Can We Go?
Written by Rev Dr Clement Chia
Leading an institution such as Singapore Bible College is a tall order, especially to someone inexperienced in institutional leadership. In my first month, I prayed to God as Moses did: “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you.” (Exod 33:13 NIV)
God answered the prayer by providing me with a strong team of board members, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and stakeholders. It has been a humbling experience for a new principal to lead a team with such varied expertise and rich experience in broad fields of ministry.
Now, in order to go far, how should we begin? In October 2016 and February 2017, I led the faculty and staff on two Task Force Days. We understood immediately that only a heart for the mission of this College would bring us all together. So, we needed to share a vision. Moreover, we had to be able to identify one another as members of this College by our shared values. We summarized our common understanding in three statements:
Mission gives your life and your ministry purpose.
Vision gives your life and your ministry direction.
Values give you and your ministry character.
We began by asking, “Why does SBC exist?” The answer is in the mission of this College. We realized that the mission statement of SBC spells out clearly and distinctively the reason for the existence of this College:
To glorify God by training faithful servants of Jesus Christ for the edification of the church and the urgent evangelization of the unreached.
We were bequeathed such a mission in theological education and have indeed honoured it for decades to this day. We aim to equip our students in a worshipful and loving community of learners for the sake of this very mission. Our predecessors shaped this educational ethos thoroughly and skilfully in formal, non-formal, and informal modes of education.
Our mission defines the purpose of our existence. With a clear purpose in view, we needed to define our identity more clearly. What we believe defines who we are. Hence, we sought to identify the values and beliefs we affirmed and embraced. Values define the essence of our character, the quality of our work, and the virtue of our words and deeds. On the first Task Force Day, faculty and staff listed more than 100 values and beliefs , which we then condensed into seven values, summarized as follows:
SBC seeks to be a Christ-like community of loving and faithful servants who exemplify respect and integrity, and excellence in education for the service of the church and society.
With the mission and values of this College, we were ready to seek its direction by asking, “Where are we heading in the next 10 or 20 years?” On that first Task Force Day, the faculty and staff entrusted me with the responsibility of responding to this question. Bringing with me the aspirations and ideas of my co-workers, I retreated to a quiet place on Fraser’s Hill, Malaysia last December, and prayed to our Lord for a vision that would open up a new horizon for the ministries of this College. Our Lord humbled me with his majestic creation and his love for the fallen world as well as the lost. My heart was touched by the Word of God, moving me to deeper obedience to his guidance for this College.
God’s vision renewed my commitment to the mission and values of this community of learners. I was deeply convinced that the founding of the College more than six decades ago was no accident, especially in view of its strategic geographical location in Southeast Asia, within a multicultural and pluralistic social setting. After sharing what I saw with the Executive Committee, Academic Committee, and the board, I hammered out the following vision statement with the Strategic Development Domain, and shared it at the second Task Force Day:
Singapore Bible College is an evangelical institution of excellence, committed to holistic theological education, which nurtures servant-leaders, effective communicators of God’s Word and integrative thinkers who passionately equip the church to carry out God’s mission in Asia and beyond.
We uphold the College’s evangelical faith, which is a legacy of the Reformation, passed down through the spread of the gospel to Singapore two hundred years ago, and exemplified recently in the Lausanne Movement’s emphasis on evangelism, mission, and church ministry. We take heart in the fact that we also are carrying on the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.
How will we achieve the goals of this vision? We will devote ourselves to establishing a strong team of faculty and staff as well as robust collaborations with other institutions and mission agencies. On-campus and off-campus, we will provide an all-rounded Christian education of the highest quality for full-time and bi-vocational ministries.
It is in these ways that we will equip faithful servants of Jesus Christ who can communicate God’s Word effectively, lead humbly yet confidently as servants of the Lord, and think holistically and integratively for the church and missions in Asia and beyond. May all these endeavours fulfil our mission of edifying the church and evangelizing the unreached.