We’re All About Community

President Greg Christy


When students and alumni are asked to try to describe Northwestern in one word, they most often come up with “community.” At Fall Convocation this year, I attempted to flesh that out, sharing what I believe are seven signs of an engaged community.

First, an engaged community is united in a clear mission—like ours: Northwestern is a Christian academic community engaging students in courageous and faithful learning and living that empowers them to follow Christ and pursue God’s redeeming work in the world. This carefully and meaningfully constructed statement reflects the commitment of our faculty and staff.

Second, we strive to be a community that asks generous questions of one another.  Rather than seeking someone to blame when things go wrong, the questions we ask and how we ask them should reflect our belief that each of us has an important role to play in furthering God’s kingdom. 

Third, we need to value our differences. What we have in common is much stronger than our differences, regardless of how uncomfortable they might make us feel.

Fourth, we need to embrace our equality. No person or group is better than another at Northwestern. Each community member is essential for effectiveness as the body of Christ. 

We also need to recognize our brokenness. The story of Simon Peter’s calling as a disciple in Luke 5 begins with his brokenness. He and his peers have no success fishing all night until they obey Jesus’ command to cast their nets in deeper water. Feeling unworthy, Simon says, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Jesus reassures, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch people.” It is often in our brokenness that Christ chooses to use us. 

An engaged community finds joy in our redemption. We are redeemed people—praise the Lord! Our faculty and staff have been called to work in Christian higher education. Students enjoy the opportunity to study and grow, daily discovering God’s purposes for their lives. Alumni and friends further our mission through gifts of time, resources and prayers. It is a privilege for all of us and possible only because of what Christ has done.

Finally, we desire to be a community filled with grace and truth. Truth without grace feels like getting hit with a club. But grace without truth isn’t grace at all. We must unite the two.

To be a community filled with grace and truth, we must keep Christ at the center of all we do. This is what a Christian academic community is all about—and why I count it a joy to serve the community of Northwestern.

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