10 Year Stewardship Report: Loaves and Fishes

June 17, 2024

by Greg Henson, CEO Kairos University; President of Sioux Falls Seminary


Today, we continue to look back on the past ten years of spirit-led stewardship at Kairos University. As we noted last week, God has brought together in Kairos University a community of Jesus followers who are committed to stewarding systems of theological education and integrated counseling that are affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful.

The work of stewardship begins by recognizing that God has given us the resources to do the things God is calling us to do. In the world of higher education, it is common to hear the refrain, “If only we had more [fill in the blank], we could do some great things.” Usually, that “blank” is filled in with the word “money.” We tend to look at money as our provider and, therefore, begin to believe money is what makes ministry happen. The reality is quite the opposite. As we read in John chapter 6, the first step is to take a look at what you do have and then put those resources to work.

In October 2013, Sioux Falls Seminary, one of the legacy partners of Kairos University, didn’t seem to have enough. Like the disciples in John 6, we were looking around at the need before us and concerned we might not have enough resources to meet that need. We were not alone. In fact, at the time, the majority of seminaries in the United States and Canada were facing challenges in the areas of enrollment and finances. At Sioux Falls Seminary, the situation seemed a bit more dire than most. The school’s long-term investment account had decreased significantly. While enrollment wasn’t declining, it was not increasing at the rate needed to cover rising institutional costs. To cap it all off, the school had over $11,000,000 in debt. In fact, the finances seemed so bleak that, in October 2013, the seminary’s financial auditor noted that the school’s recent financial history was creating uncertainty about the seminary’s ability to be viable in the future. Needless to say, the picture the auditor painted in October 2013 wasn’t encouraging.

By God’s grace, however, the staff, faculty, and board of the school embraced these challenges as a wonderful opportunity to explore what God might have in store for the future. In that same month, October 2013, the school began to look closely at what it did have—to consider what resources and opportunities had God entrusted to the school. In addition to a student body of about 150 and a mental health clinic providing over 10,000 sessions each year, the school had wonderful relationships with local churches, a unique commitment to integrated counseling, over 150 years of faithful service in God’s kingdom, and, most importantly, a staff, faculty, and board of trustees who were invested in stewarding followers of Jesus who flourish in their vocations.

Within two months, God began to reveal a path forward—one that built on conversations the faculty had been having for nearly a decade and reconnected the seminary to its roots of being a school built by the church and for the church. In November 2013, the seminary received an unexpected estate gift and began to coalesce around a strategic vision for developing systems of theological education and integrated counseling that were affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful.

In March 2014, that vision would begin to be the driving force behind the stewardship efforts of the seminary. Today, Kairos University continues to live into what it means to cultivate educational and clinical mental health pathways that are affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful. Given the importance of that phrase, we will spend some time next week unpacking what it means.

When we look back on this story, we see that, in October 2013, Sioux Falls Seminary was blessed with the opportunity to look at the needs around us and ask, “What has God given us.” Unbeknownst to the board of Sioux Falls Seminary, God was inviting the other legacy partners to consider the same question, albeit through different means and on a different timeline. Later in this series, we will try to visualize the quantitative change we have seen as a community over the past ten years. For now, let’s dive into what we mean when we say, “affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful.”

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