Courage in Community

Wherever we turn today in our society, we’re likely to see a crisis of leadership. Business executives, surrounded by armies of legal advisors and risk management consultants, seem unable to pursue any higher good than profit or take a stand against the tide of political correctness. In higher education, university presidents trip over one another in their race to cut humanities programs, reduce admission standards, and make their institutions as “inclusive” and “welcoming” as possible—to everyone, that is, except Christians. In our churches and Christian ministries, pastors trim their sails to the winds of cultural change or else huddle together for safety in ideological echo chambers. And in the political sphere…well, you get the picture.

It is easy to chide our leaders for a lack of courage and conviction, their inability to take risks or take the long view. But we are wrong to think that courage is found only in an isolated individual steeling his nerves to stand against the world. No, courage—like every virtue—is best formed in community.

A leader will only have the strength to stand against the odds if he knows he does not stand alone, if he knows that he has an army—or at least a hardy band—of friends behind him. A leader will only have the courage to trust his judgment if he knows that he does not have to think for himself alone, but can stand on the shoulders of giants.

At the Davenant Institute, we have been engaged for ten years now in forming the next generation of Christian leaders. A band of faithful and fearless men and women has grown up around our work this past decade. They have started classical schools and Christian study centers, launched magazines and publishing ventures, helmed Christian colleges and seminaries, led police forces and trade unions, and shaped the discourse of theology, ethics, and philosophy at the highest levels.

How have they done this? Because they knew that they were not alone–that in our army of friends, someone had their back. And because they knew that behind those friends was a great cloud of witnesses from the Christian past who had hammered out truths, pure and strong, in the refining fires of controversy.

Leadership requires growing into the virtue of wisdom—which is not always the same as getting answers. Too many Christian ministries today are focused on arming the faithful against the assaults of a hostile culture by giving them the right answers. But sometimes hard questions do not deserve easy answers. Sometimes hard questions are instead a summons to patient attention, attention to the finest grains of God’s self-revelation in both Word and world, and to the specific contours of the context in which he has called us to work.

Here at Davenant, we have built a thriving intellectual ecosystem founded on friendship, rooted in the rich heritage of our Protestant past, and ordered toward the love of wisdom. 

At its heart is the community of conversation centered on Davenant House and our Convivia Irenica, which are designed to provide gifted young Christian leaders a context to be challenged, mentored, and formed in authentic wisdom. This year we held our tenth National gathering and our 25th, 26th, and 27th Regional events.

Our Davenant Hall program serves as a pipeline for this community, drawing pastors, Christian educators, and Christians of every walk of life into habits of intellectual discipleship anchored in primary sources and committed to charitable engagement. As one of our first Davenant Hall students, Coleman Rafferty (graduating summer 2024), wrote in a recent reflection, “By shifting my framework from merely trying to respond to actual engagement with the ideas that were troubling me, my professor was calling me to become what I am striving to be–a Christian scholar.” 

More broadly, our numerous publication projects offer critical resources Christian leaders in every walk of life–from translations of classic Reformation texts like Peter Martyr’s Commonplaces to creative retrievals of Protestant political theology at our new outlet Commonwealth. These publications remind Protestants to have confidence in our tradition. We have the full intellectual resources to confront modern challenges, and do not need to jump ship to other traditions (as we discuss in our newest book, Why Do Protestants Convert?).

This year, Davenant turned ten, celebrating our anniversary on September 9th. We are awed and humbled by what the Lord has done in our midst during that time, and eager to be faithful stewards of all that He has given us and enabled us to build. We recognize that ten more years will not come easy; the American church faces stiff headwinds, and cultural cross-pressures threaten to tear apart friendships, churches, and institutions. We aim to build an institution that will last, an institution that will serve as a foundation-stone for Reformational Protestants in the twenty-first century. 

As we look toward the decade ahead, we are dreaming big. Dreaming of other Davenant Houses scattered across North America (and abroad), serving as hubs for the teeming intellectual community that continues to grow up around our work. Dreaming of a Davenant Hall that represents the refounding of the medieval university for the digital frontier, employing some of the best and brightest scholars in the evangelical world. Dreaming of a library of print and digital resources that offers pathways into the great tradition for learners at many levels, and gives pastors the tools they need to shepherd wisely in tumultuous times. All of this depends on the support of donors like you.

To lay the foundation for this vision, we’re aiming to raise $240,000 between now and December 31. That is a big ask, but many of our donors are already stepping up with generous pledges, and we are confident that through your support, the Lord will provide the resources to propel Davenant confidently into its second decade. Davenant is funded by donors at all different levels: some give $10 at a time, others $10,000 at a time. 

As we celebrate a full decade of Davenant together, we ask that you prayerfully consider the most generous gift you can make this year, or the most generous pledge you can make for 2024. Please make a gift today to support the reforging of Christian leaders equipped with the fearlessness of wisdom!

Blessings in Christ,

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Brad Littlejohn, President

Dr. Brad Littlejohn is the President of The Davenant Institute

The Davenant Institute is only able to do the work it takes to renew Christian learning, restore Protestant wisdom, and contend for the common good thanks to supporters like you. 

In recognition of our ten-year milestone, would you consider donating $10 or more to support our continued work? Every dollar goes to supporting our community of scholars, students, and friends to pursue truth and defend the Gospel together. 

Please give today to sustain and expand this essential work of equipping the next generation of Christian leaders, and become part of our growing army of friends!