A university president stands in front of a Christian college with colorful trees.

Effective leadership at small Christian colleges comes with challenges and rewards, risks and opportunities. (Image created with the aid of AI)

In the realm of higher education, leaders of small Christian colleges play a pivotal role in shaping the spiritual, intellectual, and personal growth of their students. These administrators, including presidents, provosts, deans, and board members, bear the responsibility of upholding the institution’s mission while fostering a Christ-centered approach to leadership.

Effective leadership in Christian higher education goes beyond conventional management techniques; it is about infusing faith and values into every aspect of the institution’s operations. This article delves into the unique challenges and opportunities faced by leaders in small Christian colleges and offers insights into fostering a Christ-centered approach to leadership.

Embracing the Mission

Consider how many “formerly Christian colleges” are no longer focused on a Christian mission.  At the heart of effective leadership in Christian higher education lies a firm commitment to the institution’s mission and vision. Leaders must wholeheartedly embrace and articulate these guiding principles, ensuring that they permeate every decision made within the institution. Whether it’s the curriculum, faculty hires, or strategic planning, aligning with the mission ensures that the college stays true to its core purpose of providing a Christ-centered education.

Cultivating a Servant Leadership Culture

Leaders in small Christian colleges are called to emulate the example of Jesus, who exhibited servant leadership during his earthly ministry. A Christ-centered approach to leadership places emphasis on humility, empathy, and a willingness to serve others. Nurturing a culture of servant leadership among faculty, staff, and students not only fosters a harmonious community but also strengthens the institution’s Christian identity.

Balancing Faith and Academia

Considering how worldview issues and the unstated assumptions behind each academic discipline impact how we teach. One of the unique challenges faced by leaders in Christian academia is striking a balance between maintaining academic excellence and integrating faith into the learning experience.

Effective leaders recognize that faith and knowledge are not mutually exclusive but rather complementary. They encourage dialogue that bridges the gap between faith and academic disciplines while teaching students what questions to ask about unstated assumptions, thus fostering an environment where students can grow intellectually and spiritually.

Navigating Financial Challenges with Stewardship

Financial stability is a perennial concern for small Christian colleges. Effective leaders exercise responsible stewardship, ensuring that financial resources are managed wisely and transparently. They collaborate with development officers and business managers to cultivate a culture of philanthropy and secure the necessary funding to support the institution’s mission.

Engaging in Collaborative Decision-Making:

Christian higher education thrives on collaboration and shared governance. Effective leaders actively involve faculty, staff, and students in the decision-making process, valuing their input and insights. This inclusive approach fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the college’s mission among all stakeholders.



Effective leadership in Christian higher education demands a deep commitment to the institution’s mission, a focus on servant leadership, and an unwavering dedication to integrating faith and academia.

Navigating the challenges and embracing the opportunities that arise in small Christian colleges require leaders who prioritize stewardship and collaborative decision-making. By fostering a Christ-centered approach to leadership, these administrators can build institutions that not only provide exceptional education but also nurture students’ spiritual growth and their commitment to impacting the world with Christian values. In the end, it is this holistic approach to leadership that empowers small Christian colleges to be beacons of light in an ever-changing world.

(This article was written almost entirely by Chat GPT with prompts by Kirsten Larsen and content editing by Dr. David Agron)


  • Chat GPT

    Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer - CHAT GPT - is a large language model -based chatbot developed by OpenAI and launched on November 30, 2022. It enables users to receive information tailored to a particular format, style, level of detail, and length, depending on the prompts entered by the user.

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  • David Agron, Ph.D.

    Dr. Agron is the managing editor of Christian Academia Magazine. He also serves as an accreditation consultant. Since 1999, Agron & Associates, Inc. has specialized in helping Christian colleges achieve accreditation. In both roles, his mission is to help raise up Christian colleges in quality, quantity, reputation and impact for the Kingdom of God. If you would like to discuss how his firm can help your school achieve accreditation, contact him at [email protected].

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