Involvement Drives Winning Strategy: Santa Fe Christian School Case Study


Seven years ago, you probably wouldn’t have wanted Tom Bennett’s job as Interim Director at Santa Fe Christian Schools in Solana Beach, California.

  • Sizable debt and red ink had delayed accreditation
  • No leadership team in place, no effective organizational structure and virtually no reporting lines in effect
  • Several open faculty positions
  • Plus, two weeks before the school year began, the previous Head of School resigned

“To create a new strategic plan that could turn us around, we needed an objective measure of our workplace culture. We needed to be data rich, and we were data poor. I wanted a data warehouse, and didn’t even have a data shed.”


Tom BennettThree key insights, articulated by Bennett, confirmed the strategic plan process was both hard, yet necessary:

  1. “The only way to ensure consensus and buy in, was to involve everyone–board, faculty, staff, plus parents and alumni. It would be time consuming, yet the biggest reason that strategic plans fail is the lack of shared vision, therefore:
  2. “We couldn’t rush or ‘push’ our decision-making from top down. Whatever we decided had to come, collectively, from the bottom up. People need to know their voices were being heard. Thus, a solution:
  3. “We formed our own ‘kitchen cabinet.’ It was a no-holds-barred breakfast gathering for anyone and everyone—teachers, receptionists, bus drivers, maintenance people—to say anything that was on their mind. It made for very direct, clear communication.

The strategic plan took two years to create. In the process, Bennett got his wish, reaping a storehouse of fresh, objective data that revealed just how effective the school’s approach actually was.


Today, five years after their strategic plan took effect, Santa Fe Christian’s workplace engagement scores— indicators of overall employee satisfaction and organizational effectiveness—have increased to be in the top 20 percentile of Christian schools. Executive leadership is solid, finances are sound and enrollment remains strong. The commitment to involve everyone and make the needed, time-consuming course corrections were worth it, says Bennett. “Without a doubt, the remarkable, ongoing outcomes among our faculty, staff are in direct correlation to our commitment to create, honor and execute a shared vision worthy of a work community dedicated to serving Christ.”


Lancaster Bible College’s DNA [Podcast]

Peter TeagueWelcome to this edition of our Positive Core Podcast Series titled, Creating the DNA for a Flourishing Culture at Lancaster Bible College.  In this episode, join Dr. Peter Teague and I as we discuss how he has led Lancaster Bible College to become a flourishing Best Christian Workplace.


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Defining DNA on a College Campus Builds Collaboration: A Lancaster Bible College Case Study

Lancaster Bible College SignJust when you think the strength of an organization starts at the top, along comes someone whose storied, transparent leadership shows it’s absolutely, positively true.


Sixteen years ago, Peter Teague became president of Lancaster Bible College, in Lancaster, PA. And while the school enjoyed a reputation for preparing young people for ministry, Teague quickly discovered a… Continue reading

BCWI Announces 2015 Best Christian Workplaces

BCWI_Certified_2015_ClearThis year’s 2015 Best Christian Workplaces list identifies organizations where employees experience healthy, even flourishing workplace cultures. The employees in these organizations find the work they do to be so meaningful and transformational they are willing to go the extra mile. The rich day-to-day relationships and fellowship experienced are particularly meaningful. Results show employees in our Certified organizations give more of… Continue reading

Communicating to Create the Desire to Excel: College of Biblical Studies Case Study



When Bill Blocker became president of College of Biblical Studies in Houston, two goals rose to the top:

  • Articulate the mission
  • And get everyone’s buy in

Blocker realized, however, that neither outcome would matter without achieving a third goal—seeing every staff and faculty engaged with passion and energy.


Blocker… Continue reading

How NewSpring Church Built a Flourishing Culture [Podcast]

Welcome to this new audio podcast with Jason Moorhead, Central Development Pastor at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC.  In this episode we discuss how NewSpring created a culture of trust and transparency.  We also discuss their goal of having 100,000 weekend attenders by 2020.

NewSpring Church Worship

Listen how NewSpring has achieved a 93% staff engagement level!

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Transparency and Trust Build Culture: College of Biblical Studies – Houston Case Study

What president or CEO wouldn’t want to cultivate the kind of transparency and  trust  that can generate staff unity, organizational effectiveness and ministry impact? But what if turbulent events preceding your arrival meant you had to essentially start from a deficit position?



When Bill Blocker came to the College of Biblical Studies in Houston as incoming president… Continue reading

4 Reasons Behind NewSpring Church’s Flourishing Culture

          If you were offered a comparable job at higher pay would you stay? … Or leave?

Recently, when asked this question, 97% of 400 staff at NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina said they would stay (81% Strongly Agree).

That finding is consistent with an overwhelming 99% of staff that say they like working at NewSpring.

93% Staff Engagement at NewSpring! What?!

How did NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, grow from a living room Bible study of 8 to its current 35,000 weekend worshipers on ten campuses?Newspring-church_004

Could there be a correlation between NewSpring’s ongoing numeric growth and an overwhelming 93% of its 400 staff are engaged as measured by the Best Christian Workplace survey?

Central… Continue reading

Hybels: Practical Steps to Turn a Culture Around

This year’s Global Leadership Summit was my spiritual highpoint of the year. It was challenging and inspirational.  Bill Hybels led off with a talk right from the heart about Practical Steps to Turn a Culture Around.

GLS Willow CreekBill’s transparency about the nearly toxic culture he faced upon returning to Willow’s day-to-day leadership in 2009 is becoming legend. He… Continue reading