By Michael C. Mack
Like many others, I was saddened to see the news on Monday about Cincinnati Christian University giving up its accreditation and closing its doors at the end of the semester. I’m a CCU alum (MA, 1993), met my wife, Heidi, there, developed many lifelong friendships with fellow students and professors at the school, and taught a couple classes as an adjunct there. I can show you the specific spots on campus where incredible memories were made.
On Monday evening, Heidi and I read the wide range of emotional reactions on social media. Many people are not only sad, but angry, too. I understand these emotional responses. Some of those responding may know much more about the situation than I, and I certainly understand the need to seek accountability. Over the past four months I’ve spoken to several CCU trustees, past professors and other staff, and graduates. I’ve tried to get some answers and piece together the reasons for CCU’s demise, partially to satisfy my own curiosity and also to be able to report what I’ve learned through Christian Standard. As one might expect, I received a wide variety of answers, mostly depending on whom I was talking to.
In the end, I will not point fingers or try to answer the many why questions, at least not at this time; I know decisions are often very complicated and there is more to the story than almost anyone truly understands. That’s not to excuse any of the major issues that have been raised. I will make a few observations, however.
Some challenges at CCU are indicative of larger issues in Christian colleges and universities and small private colleges in general. Surely, shifts in culture are partially, but not completely, to blame. With every “failure,” there are always opportunities to learn and grow as well. Certainly, leaders in other learning institutions are looking at CCU’s demise to seek to better understand the issues and develop safeguards. As church leaders, we may also need to assess the current educational situation to consider the best ways to disciple believers and equip more young people to serve in the future.
I’m reminded that, as important as our Bible colleges, universities, and seminaries have been, they are not a biblical structure. They have been and still are an important tool in equipping people for ministry, but the home and the church are still the primary, biblical places where discipleship and equipping are to occur. These ministries that we often refer to as “parachurch ministries” will come and go over the ages; but the family and the church will persist until Jesus’ return.
I also have a bigger concern for the church. We need to protect our witness. We must “be wise in the way [we] act toward outsiders,” and also with outsiders watching and listening to us. We must let our conversations (face-to-face and on Facebook) be always full of grace (see Colossians 4:5, 6).
Will you join me in responding to this situation primarily with prayer? I am certain that current students and their parents, faculty, and staff would value our prayers for them—and I believe this should be our first response. Pray for CCU leaders as well as for the schools where students may continue their education, including Central Christian College of the Bible, as students and schools make important decisions and transitions over the next several months. Pray for our church leaders as they consider how we can best disciple, develop, and deploy young people for ministry. Pray that everyone—board members, administrators, staff, alumni, current students and parents—may act honorably and with integrity as CCU concludes its mission.
The 95-year existence of Cincinnati Christian University is ending, but its ministry continues through its students and the countless number of people around the world who have been influenced for eternity by those students. I am blessed to be but one of them.