sad story

I don’t know how else to describe the turn of events at NIU. I truly am sorry to see the continued turmoil. While I disagree with the chosen direction, I wish no ill will to NIU or to Matt Olson, former classmate and hopefully still a friend in spite of differences.

What next for Northland? I was talking to another educator yesterday and when he got over the shock of hearing this news his first comment was, “I don’t see how they can open in September.” How indeed. Sad story.

not naming names

But hitting the bulls-eye dead center.

For a pastor to chart a new course which effectively empties the church until the only ones remaining agree with him is unethical. For the leader of a service organization to pursue a new direction that leaves the organization vulnerable to collapse unless people go along with his choices is simply wrong. This is not servant leadership. Really it is not leadership at all; it is coercion. The congregation or organization is not allowed to make a free, informed choice about its new course or direction. The leader has imposed his will, not served. …

A genuine servant leader lives within the stewardship boundaries outlined for him in the governing documents of his church or ministry. If he finds himself in conflict with those, he either removes himself or calls for the church or ministry to reconsider its position. If he does the latter, he does that first, not after positioning things so that saying no will lead to catastrophic consequences. Leaving people no choice but to bend to your will is the antithesis of servant leadership.

Read the whole thing.



A few thoughts on the sudden about-face of Northland International “University”:

Clearly what we have witnessed is a power struggle. The conservative members of the board were able to get enough backing to fire Matt Olson, but the family spoke, the decision of the board was reversed, and according to some reports, all non-family members of the board resigned.

Which leads one to conclude that the board was a sham, the real power at NI”U” lies with the Patz family.

And one would have to think that the conservatives made a mistake in allowing Matt to continue through graduation, though perhaps they didn’t have enough clout to pull that off.

Clearly, the whiplash effect is an embarrassment – NI”U” is a sham school. It is hard to see how they have any credibility going forward. Will they have more than 200 students next year? Would you risk your hard earned $$$ to send a student there?

The chirping at SI by some that says this is showing leadership is incredibly amusing. Apparently these folks have no clue about leadership or integrity.

It’s a pretty sad situation. Hard to imagine how quickly this situation has deteriorated. Hard to see any way out for the Patz family and their play school.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

end of an era or a stepping stone?

I’ve been on the road all day, literally. Read about the termination of Matt Olson as president of Northland International University somewhere between Cache Creek and Kamloops, BC. I was more than a little astonished.

I’m not writing to pontificate today. I am sorry to see Matt lose his post, though I have been a very vocal critic of the positions he has been taking over the last few years. Matt and I were classmates and I think at one time I could have counted him as a friend. I doubt that he thinks of me in that way any longer.

His announcement by way of his public letter was very gracious. I applaud him for it. I haven’t seen the chapel session, probably won’t. Don’t have time this week and it will be old news by next week. But I expect it was handled in a similar fashion. I hope that Matt does well in the future and I also hope that he will come out in a better position with respect to fundamentalism / evangelicalism and holiness / worldliness.

Where does NIU go from here? It depends on who they select as a new president. One could wonder if anyone in their right mind would want the job, but surely some courageous soul will take it. Who that is will give us an indication whether the experiment with evangelicalism is over or we are merely moving to phase 2.



Honesty. Integrity. Transparency.

Some people talk a lot about such things. The cynic suspects that those who talk most about these topics give the least evidence of their internal presence. As if talking will substitute for the real thing.

For example, my most recent post highlighted a chapel speaker at Northland International University in recent days. It included a link to a recent worship service at the church where the speaker is the pastor. I encourage you to check out that link today.

  • A sample of the “worship” at this church.
    Today, April 27, 2013, this  is what you get when you click that link:
This is a private video. Do you have permission to watch it? If so please provide the correct password.

Honesty. Integrity. Transparency.

Yeah, you can get that in spades from NIU and its friends.

Below is the “Core Values” page of NIU (emphasis added):

Philosophy of Education

The goal of Northland International University is to provide an atmosphere of academic excellence and classroom discipleship to prepare servant-leaders for Great Commission living. True education produces individuals with “both hands of skill and hearts for God” (Psalm 78:72). The Northland International University faculty is committed to train individuals whose chief desire is to serve the Lord so that they will be motivated to serve others in their chosen field of ministry.

Northland rejects the idea of a value-free education and believes that truth is centered in Jesus Christ and that all knowledge should be related to Him. Northland believes that the Bible should be the philosophical foundation for all subject matter and that it is a faithful guide for all curricular and pedagogical decisions. By committing to carefully and purposefully delivering truth in the classroom, Northland seeks to produce future servant-leaders who can likewise communicate biblical truth with clarity and passion.

To accomplish this goal, Northland strives to offer courses that provide students with both academic theory and character development in a rich, hands-on learning environment. This emphasis allows Northland to equip students with the ability to confront the unforeseen challenges of the future while enabling them to have immediate success in a variety of ministry settings. In order to continue their education and to graduate, Northland students must demonstrate both academic competence and godly character consistent with the vision, values, and philosophy of the institution’s mission and ministry.

Purpose Statement

Preparing the next generation of servant-leaders for Great Commission living

Mission Statement

The mission of Northland International University is to glorify God (1) by providing an educational environment for developing servant-leaders in honesty, obedience, wisdom, and service to love Jesus Christ with all their heart, soul, and mind and (2) by teaching students to live by the principles of God’s Word, to walk with God as His faithful laborers, and to serve in local churches for revival, world evangelization, and the discipling of future generations for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Statement of Practice

Northland International University stands firmly in the stream of Baptist faith and practice. We recognize the need for a Bible college to rekindle a fervor and zeal for the ministry both at home and abroad. Each major is saturated with Bible and doctrine courses as well as practical ministerial training courses, both of which are vital in preparing and training students for life and ministry.

Institutional Objectives

We aim to direct students to:

  • Grow in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to love Him with all their hearts, souls, and minds.
  • Develop hearts for God and conformity to Christ’s character in academics, attitudes, and actions.
  • Strike a biblical balance in their lives between holiness and love, the external and the internal.
  • Build and defend their faith.
  • Grasp the polemical (attacking the error) and the apologetical (stating the truth).
  • Grasp the exegetical (opening their minds to the Word in private) and the affirmational (opening their mouths to the world in public).
  • Gain confidence in holding their views and humility in expressing them.
  • Live in godliness and faithfulness by developing the following patterns: walking in the Spirit; learning and living the principles of God’s Word; establishing daily devotions, Scripture memorization, and an effective prayer life; and serving in the local church and reaching others for Christ.
  • Demonstrate the love of Christ by reaching the unsaved for Christ and by strengthening and discipling other Christians.
  • Have a burden for worldwide missions and to prepare laborers for worldwide evangelism.
  • Develop their academic potential to the fullest for the glory of God and the good of others.
The Seal

We have chosen the Northland International University logo to be a constant reminder of our mission and core values: the four missional lines from Acts 1:8 crossing our four core values of honesty, obedience, wisdom, and service.


Being transparent with God and others


Doing what I should do, when I should do it, how I should do it, and with the right heart attitude and spirit toward the authority asking me to do it


Skill, ability, and insight gained from God’s Word for the purpose of living a life that honors and glorifies God


Investing my life (personal relationships, personal plans or priorities, and personal possessions or pleasures) in ministry for the good of others rather than for the pleasure or advancement of self.

Our desire is that Northland will encourage others to experience “an extraordinary life.” May God be glorified throughout all His creation, and may the good news of Jesus Christ be preached to the ends of the earth!

Code of Conduct

To preserve the integrity and philosophy of ministry at Northland, we have established the following standards of biblical conduct, as further explained throughout our policies and procedures.

  • Dedication to God: an unreserved, life time commitment to God (Romans 12:1–2)
  • Devotion to Others: an unselfish, sacrificial love for others (1 Corinthians 13; Mark 10:44)
  • Disciplined Living: a sustained, daily effort to be controlled and directed by the Holy Spirit (1Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9:25–27)
  • Dependable Spirit: doing what I ought to do (1 Corinthians 4:2; Proverbs 25:19)
  • Discerning Mind: the ability to see people and circumstances as they really are (Hebrews 5:14; 1 Corinthians 2:14)
  • Discreet Lifestyle: the ability to avoid words, actions, and attitudes that are not pleasing to God (Psalm 112:5; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:29–30)
  • Discipleship Ministry: transferring convictions to others (Matthew 28:19–20; 2 Timothy 2:2)


Don’t send your kids to Northland

“Thank you Steve for your contributions to the church!” – Matt Olson, sharing a link to this video music presentation on his Facebook page.

Really, in my opinion, you shouldn’t send your kids to Northland International University. The school and its president have taken a strange turn – this is the latest example. Several of Matt’s friends on Facebook, mutual friends of ours, protested at this link in the comments that followed. You won’t find those protests any longer, they’ve been deleted (after Matt responded to one).

The latest comment, “Have you been hacked, Matt?” Alas, if it were only that simple. I’m afraid all of us who once supported Northland have been hacked.

Don’t send your kids there, you will be very disappointed.