After a year of planning that included research and confidential interviews from RTS board members, faculty, staff, students, donors, and community leaders across the nation, the Reformed Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new strategic vision: OneRTS: Serving the Church Together. The yearlong strategic planning initiative (SPI) was initiated by the RTS Board of Trustees in coordination with RTS senior leadership to create and execute a comprehensive assessment of the seminary at every level of service.
OneRTS exists to ensure that Reformed Theological Seminary effectively leverages all its resources to provide the best theological education for students across its campuses as they prepare for faithful ministry in the church of Jesus Christ.
Eighty-eight (88) interviews were conducted across the RTS system. A feedback matrix was constructed that cataloged and assigned each unique piece of feedback a number and coded it in the category to which it would best fit and be available for reporting back to the working team.
Two hundred twenty-two (222) unique feedback items were received, representing more than a 60% response rate from the entire seminary community. The feedback was administratively weighted (as opposed to academically focused) and presented to the RTS Board of Trustees. The integrity of the SPI research can be considered accurate in that every precaution was taken to organize all qualitative data and represent it quantitatively in a matrix that is understandable and informative.
The SPI was designed to put in place a structure where feedback could easily be received confidentially, documented accurately, categorized easily, analyzed thoroughly, and reported honestly.
The focus of the SPI began with the student and worked backward from that point. The term “OneRTS” began to emerge as an aspirational motto for the entire seminary community. OneRTS exists to equip students to become future leaders for the church of Christ. Their experience in seminary is formative and sets the direction for an entire lifetime of ministry. Toward that end, OneRTS seeks to strengthen and empower each campus with the very best resources so that all RTS students experience a dynamic experience of academic discipleship in every RTS class.
“We stand at the threshold of a new period in the history of Reformed Theological Seminary, and we understand the deeply significant work to which we have been called,” said RTS Board Chairman Richard Ridgway. “This strategic plan is rooted in what we at RTS have always considered non-negotiable – a strong commitment to the Bible as the Word of God and our very existence in service to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our pursuit of academic excellence is done in a caring community with a faculty profoundly committed to the advance of the gospel in our time. With the launch of OneRTS, we have made clear these commitments will continue to define us as we serve the church together for the glory of Christ. I commend the RTS Board of Trustees, Chancellor Ligon Duncan, the SPI working team, and the entire RTS family for this valuable contribution to the future of RTS.”
OneRTS includes four goals that define the SPI’s principal direction. As developed in partnership with the entire seminary community, OneRTS will be recognized for:
- Improving Effectiveness – The structure of RTS will be improved to reflect ease of use by all faculty, staff, and students. RTS will simplify, clarify, and modify organizational relationships and responsibilities within the multi-campus structure to better serve the seminary community. Redundancies will be eliminated, and systems will be created or reinforced that will establish understandable processes for who does what, when, and how. Leaders will be empowered on each campus, and expertise in operations will be centralized in a shared services model to better serve the students, faculty, and staff. The focus will be on efficiency – honing the operational vision toward tighter goals and processes.
- Growing the Impact – Development, marketing, admissions, and technology will work to create systems so that a central portal of activity will provide transparency and guidance for use at every level of the institution. Funding models will be re-examined, and work will continue toward growing the student body, broadening the donor base, and extending the reach of RTS courses and resources to new audiences, locations, and modalities.
- Spreading the Word – New processes will amplify, clarify, and unify the messaging across the institution. Talking points, branding, and RTS platforms will be unified. Increased efforts to establish a marketing and communications regimen across the RTS enterprise will centralize some efforts and equip campuses for professional, disciplined, nimble communication on the local level so that the excellence of RTS faculty can continue to grow in scope and service.
- Serving the Church – Reformed Theological Seminary exists to serve the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The institution is founded on Holy Scripture, guided by the Westminster Standards, and remains true to the Reformed faith in holiness and humility. In an age of doctrinal slippage, speculation, and ecumenical downgrade, RTS desires to reaffirm its commitment to Reformed theology and use its every resource to teach the truth of Holy Scripture. Its campuses are a resource for the church as well as a destination for students from across the world.
Within these four goals are strategies of specification that codify, quantify, and execute more specific themes and actions, which reflect the aspiration and, through a variety of original ideas, will become operational plans. OneRTS enables contributions to the vision and to the seminary’s progress from all members of the RTS community. Some projects and initiatives already underway are noted to demonstrate the impact of OneRTS.
“It has been an honor and privilege to participate in the development of OneRTS, which reflects the very best thinking of so many who love RTS and desire to see the seminary continue to prosper, both now and in the future,” Chancellor J. Ligon Duncan said. “I am grateful for the active collaboration of the RTS Board of Trustees during the entire strategic planning initiative, for the many dedicated faculty and staff on each campus who developed thoughtful recommendations, and to alumni and friends across the world who spent hours engaged in serious conversation about the development and impact of the SPI.”
“RTS is now the largest and most prolific Reformed seminary in the world. If it didn’t exist, we would need to invent it. Furthermore, we are convinced that the church and world both need such a place right now for the preparation of a ministry equipped with the Word and suited for the times – a seminary that is unambiguously committed to the Bible and the Reformed faith, to the highest quality of scholarship, joined with a passionate commitment to the church and a pastoral theology for the pastoral ministry, as well as a winsome witness to the world,” Dr. Duncan said.
“OneRTS serves as a compass for our future, a guide that clearly points us toward our destination and helps determine the paths by which we will arrive. As we launch OneRTS, we are thankful for all that Reformed Theological Seminary has been and look forward to the promise of RTS’ next season of progress and service.”
OneRTS: Serving the Church Together
More information about the Strategic Planning Initiative can be found at www.onerts.com.
About Reformed Theological Seminary
Reformed Theological Seminary has nine campuses serving more than 1,700 students: Jackson, MS; Orlando, FL; Charlotte, NC; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; New York, NY; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Global Education (U.S. and International). Reformed Theological Seminary serves the church by preparing its leaders through a program of graduate theological education based upon the authority of the inerrant Word of God and committed to the Reformed faith.