Mission accomplished?

With the passing of Carl Bailey, the man behind Concordia’s mission statement, we are reminded of the impact Concordia’s mission statement has had on the college. We’ve heard it: “The mission of Concordia College is to send into society thoughtful and informed men and women dedicated to the Christian life.” Yet how does it impact us as students more than 50 years after it was written?

Immediately, one of the prominent concerns is wrestling with what it means to be dedicated to the Christian life. The terminology used seems outdated; the plurality of religions in the world and on campus demands an open mind to students choosing their own faith. However, the idea of guiding your life through higher values stands strong. The “Christian life” need not turn off students of other faiths—it is about passion, meaning the college works to send forth influential and thoughtful students whether or not they label themselves Christian. It also goes beyond the idea of being responsibly engaged in the world and engages spirituality. Dedicating your life to higher values can be a difficult life that requires constant critique. It is something less tangible, this being “dedicated to the Christian life,” but this, possibly more than anything, prepares us for the uncertainties, struggles and joys of life after Concordia.

Additionally, the use of “send into” implies action. We’ve been in society for our entire lives. This phrase means that once we flip our rings around and pass the tassel across our graduation cap, we have a responsibility to go somewhere and do something with what knowledge we’ve acquired at this school. Be it Mars, Malaysia or Maple Grove, the mission calls us to go forth and grapple with life’s challenges.

Yet this is no guarantee that by going to Concordia you will emerge transformed, ready to take on the world. To us as students, it seems the college follows this mission in an ideological sense but not in a real world setting. Teachings of the college are often couched in these lofty ideals but fail to translate into real progress. When things get wrapped up in committee or pushed to the wayside in the search for the easy answers, the college fails to fulfill its promise to the students. Students are left with mere rumblings of things “higher up” that will never come to fruition. Yet this is not to say the college fails in its mission, it just requires work on behalf of the individual.

Simply going to class and doing your homework will not change you into the person Concordia wishes you to be. The burden is largely still on you as a student. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it means you have to push beyond the Cobber bubble and respond and interact with the world at large. The true achievement of Concordia’s mission rests in your hands. If you internalize the goals laid out for you and commit to improving yourself and striving for better, then we can see the result of sending truly dedicated and thoughtful men and women into the world.

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