Robert Rowe has given us a very useful outline of ways of setting about raising the credible profile of a Christian perspective within the Higher Education Sector nationally, but which also has international potential. It allows for small beginnings, but with the possibility under God for growth, even rapid growth. I'm sure we're grateful for the impetus he has given us.
It seems to me that C·A·N as established, with its potential for network expansion and modification provides a good basis for the interactions needed in the discussion and publicising modes of activity. The network is up and running! What is now needed, and needed urgently is the identification of those individuals within H.E, who already have, or are keen to acquire and fulfill this vision. In Old Testament terms it meant (as Moses found out) that the burden was too much for him alone, but as his father in law advised him, to appoint suitable other persons to share in that burden. In New Testament terms it requires each committed Christian in HE to seek out the mind of Christ in this matter with regard to His Lordship in ,their lives. It seems to me that C·A·N needs to discover the mechanism, which enables us to sympathetically encourage this under a myriad of other conflicting demands.
Let me first be encouraging, and draw your attention to what is already being achieved in the area of book publication. If you look at the book· display you will find there five books written by practicing Christians in Higher Education in their respecting fields of Literature, Economics, Biology, Psychology and Sociology, all currently issuing from the same publisher Can you see a gap where you could be making a contribution in your field? There are of course others now out of print, and other publishers. Such contribution comes not only out of years of reflection, but at times also out of a fresh PhD thesis in a fast moving area.
However short publications in the form of Monographs, can often bring together ideas, which are very influential · I can think of two in my own experience, which were very formative. These can be the product of the kind of co·operation mentioned by David Booth in his response, viz two or three people meeting together to discuss one single issue or topic. Some may only involve academic staff, but many will need other staff to be involved e.g., Relationships ·academic, secretarial, administrative, cleaners, research, PG & ug, and these days sponsors · a Biblical Perspective. This is an area where awayday days are often spent discussing Relationships.
However let me come back to the question of how we can encourage staff to organise their lives to allow them the space needed to live integrated Christian lives at work.:-
- Recognise that they need to give this prayerful consideration, and also to discuss it openly with family, and church leaders, even get church leaders to share the vision particulady for those living in university towns. What this should not do is to increase clutter and pressure in what may already be crowded lives.
- Consider how to spend any Sabbaticals they may be granted · this creates space.
- Conferences at weekends are no longer popular with those with young families. Examine whether attending such can be justified in the working week from a professional viewpoint, and how expenses should be dealt with, perhaps even discuss with head of group or department
- Apply discernment in answering yes or no to any demands, having previous established priorities. Review with others how this is working out in practice even as part of an appraisal process.