October 23, 2023
by Greg Henson, CEO Kairos University; President of Sioux Falls Seminary
As a community of people who call Jesus Lord, Kairos University follows Jesus into the world by the power of the Spirit, to the glory of God the father. As we participate in God’s mission to reconcile the world through Christ, we are blessed with the opportunity to walk alongside those God places in our care. We refer to this work as “stewarding followers of Jesus who flourish in their vocations for the sake of the world.”
As stewards, we must pay attention to the wide array of gifts God has entrusted to us. In some cases, those are financial but, in most cases, those are opportunities, educational programs, strategic opportunities, and relationships – they are related to people! This should come as no surprise because God works through people. We are our relationships (as noted by New Testament scholar, Douglas Campbell).
Such relationships are scattered across the programs we steward. Because we have been entrusted with this collection of educational programs and the relationships that exist within them, it is important that we reflect on the work we are doing in order to ensure we are serving people well. A common phrase for this kind of work is “program assessment.” When we talk about the six practices that give shape to educational programs, we call it “continuous improvement.” In the case of Kairos, it is important to note that we engage in continuous improvement because it is an act of stewardship. We pay close attention to how programs are working not because we are looking for better ways to sell degrees or make a profit but because the Master has entrusted us with talents.
But how does this work in practice?
Well, if you’ve been part of the Kairos community for any period of time, you have probably noticed that we refer to programs by using phrases like “Master of Divinity 5.1” or “Doctor of Ministry 8.0.” Those are references to specific versions or iterations of Kairos curricula. Much like the version numbers for software or apps you might use (e.g., iOS 16 or Android 14), the versions provide a quick way to note when changes have been made to the software. In our case, they refer to versions of program curricula. As is the case with software updates, the newest version of a program’s curriculum within Kairos includes the most up-to-date information, resources, and learning pathways. It is the best way to experience everything Kairos has to offer.
In the upcoming weeks, we will release Kairos 10.0. We have enhanced versions of our programs, and we are excited to make them available. While some programs will have more updates than others, each program has been enhanced. Over the past 18+ months, we have gathered and analyzed data from across the Kairos community (i.e., students, partners, faculty, staff, board members, etc.), reflected on what we have seen God doing in our midst, fostered collaborative conversations with several small groups of faculty, staff, and students, and prayerfully considered how we might respond faithfully. As with all things we do, Kairos 10.0 is not a “finished product.” We are constantly listening to the Kairos community, seeking to discern the movement and guidance of the Spirit, and anticipating the next version of the Kairos curriculum. The release of a new version of the Kairos curriculum also provides a moment to celebrate. By the grace of God, we have been given the opportunity to steward followers of Jesus through several iterations of the curriculum.
One of the new aspects of Kairos 10.0 is the process through which we will release it. In the past, we have announced the “launch” of new versions of Kairos and that process was, in hindsight, rather abrupt. We tended to launch it at a special session during a Kairos gathering, encouraged people to switch to the new version soon, and provided a list of the changes that were made. Understandably, this came as a surprise to people. While they may have heard a new version was coming or even expected a new one, we didn’t create intentional exposure to the newest version.
With Kairos 10.0, we are “releasing” rather than “launching” the newest version. That is to say, it has been in development for over 18 months. We have experimented with some enhancements in order to see what might work well and what still needed to be adjusted. Indeed, some students and partners have already been working with various aspects of the 10.0 curriculum. We are not launching something new as much as we are making the newest updates available (i.e., releasing them) to everyone. This is very similar to the way alpha, beta, or developer versions of software work. For example, the newest versions of iOS and Android have been used by developers or certain partners well before they were released to everyone.
One important aspect of our release process is this series of blog posts. Over the next few weeks, we will describe Kairos 10.0, reflect on some of the updates we have made, and outline how faculty, students, and partners can take advantage of all it has to offer. Come back next week as we share a broad overview of the updates that have been made and the rationale behind them.