Planning for Blessings

I am a planner. In fact, few things in life give me more joy than making lists and checking off boxes in the Franklin Covey planner I have been using for years. So when President Treptow asked me, the newest professor on campus, to serve as the chairman of a new strategic planning committee, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Joining President Treptow and me on the committee are two other professors, Sam Degner and Rich Gurgel. Despite the group’s small size, we hit the ground running last fall and made significant progress over the past few months. Here are some highlights…

In November the committee sent an online survey to everyone in the seminary family: professors, staff members, students, and spouses. The questions focused on the campus buildings and grounds: “What do you appreciate? What areas could be improved?” The survey also encouraged people to dream a bit, to think about what new or expanded facilities could help us carry out our mission.

Over one hundred people completed the survey and shared hundreds of ideas and suggestions—a great response to begin the planning process. The committee then sifted through the data and identified a number of overarching themes. The most common response was thanksgiving, a desire to express gratitude for our beautiful campus and the dedicated men and women who maintain it. There was a clear recognition that we are richly blessed.

The surveys also surfaced a number of issues that warrant further discussion. Do we have sufficient classroom space to meet our future needs, especially as we anticipate the blessing of larger classes coming from Martin Luther College? Could the lower level of the library be reconfigured and repurposed to make better use of that space? The auditorium/fitness center is thirty-five years old. Is it time to update, maybe even expand? With the majority of present a strategic plan to the seminary’s governing board when it meets on campus in September. The timeline is ambitious, but achievable, and the most recently completed step was to engage with the people you probably think of first when you think of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, the students and professors.

The committee received valuable input from seminary professors. Listening sessions were held to involve the entire student body. Committee members also consulted with WELS leaders and shared their findings with the governing board.

What will our committee be doing six months from now, and what will come of all this planning? Only the Lord knows. He knows the future, and he knows and always does what is best for his children. As we strive to be good stewards of the gifts he has entrusted to us, we are confident that God will be with us and bless us and equip us with everything we need to carry out his work. Because all of those boxes in my planner have already been checked.

Professor Steven Pagels teaches systematic theology and Christian education.

This article first appeared the 2020 issue of Preach the Gospel.

Strategic planning includes studying how the classroom space can best serve today’s students.