Leadership Program (Coram Deo)

Coram Deo Image

Leadership Residency
Coram Deo: (core-um day-oh)
Living in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

 At CEN, we believe in robust, Christ-centred leadership that cultivates positive growth and facilitates meaningful change is essential for our schools to thrive now and into the future. Christian schools are enhanced and strengthened by school leaders who love the Lord and are highly skilled and well-resourced practitioners.

The Coram Deo Leadership Residency is a training and mentoring program tailored for Christian school leaders. It aims to provide a rich opportunity to explore transformational leadership that is grounded in Scripture and reflects the core values of CEN and your school community. Investing collectively in the enhancement, training, and encouragement of those already serving in essential leadership roles not only improves their practice, but enhances succession solutions for our schools as well.

What is transformational leadership?

“Leadership is the act of influencing/serving others out of Christ’s interests in their lives so they accomplish God’s purposes for and through them.” Bill Lawrence

Just as we view Christian education as transformational, so too is Christian leadership. When we are “transformed” we are not the same at the end as we were in the beginning. We have grown, learnt, and experienced, and that has shaped us into something new. What starts as an inner change becomes our new, lived reality.

As Christians, we understand this intimately as we read Paul’s words in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Paul also writes that “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2).

So, transformational leadership is not only learning the tools and techniques to improve and shape our own individual practice, but taking an active role in raising and shaping the next generation of leaders. 

Why a leadership program?

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” – Tom Peters

Good leadership is vital to the success and growth of any organisation. Jesus, however, tells His disciples in no uncertain terms that Christian leaders are not to be like the world’s leaders (Matt 20:25-28). They are to be servants first, modelling Christ’s example of humility. When leadership comes from a heart that is centred on Christ, it acts for the benefit and growth of others; it is, in a word, transformational.

Christian schools are enhanced and strengthened by accomplished leaders who love the Lord and understand the heart of Christian leadership; leaders who enable others to achieve the purposes to which God has called them.

The Coram Deo Leadership Residency seeks to provide a training program that starts and ends with this vision for leadership; a program that upholds a Christian worldview, connects with the challenges facing Christian schools and is exciting, inspiring and practical to boot. We need to be developed as leaders first, so that we can then effectively lead others.

CEN is committed to increasing the capacity of existing leadership within our schools, partnering with boards to empower principals and senior leaders to be able to lead their schools well and to raise up the next generation of leaders.

Aims and principles informing the residency?

“Spiritual leadership is using God’s methods to get His people where He wants them in reliance on His power.” John Piper

The very notion of “coram deo” is central to the program. Everything we do must be saturated in the things of God and find their purpose and fulfilment in Him. Our aim is for participants to complete the residency with a deep understanding of coram deo that they can demonstrate in their practice and share with their own leadership teams. This will be focussed around three core concepts:

  • Knowing God through deep immersion in, and study of, His word;
  • Knowing others through developing skills in understanding people deeply and building teams effectively;
  • Knowing self through reflection and meditation on God, which leads to a greater awareness of one’s own God-given gifts, character. and motivations.

There is always more to learn and areas we can improve. If we believe our skills, talents and all the qualities we bring to the table are fixed, it becomes easy to rest on our laurels and we focus less on serving God and others. Coram Deo participants will be encouraged to adopt a growth mindset, understanding that they can continually develop and shape their abilities as knowledge and experience is added to their practice. “This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives” (Carol Dweck).

Coram Deo aims to equip leaders with a toolkit to cultivate a deeper understanding of God in their school that is rooted in His Word, and how it affects the world we live in. Using this toolkit, participants will be able to diagnose, problem solve, and overcome the common challenges facing boards, executives, and Christian schools.

Finally, the program acknowledges that we operate in a compliance-rich environment and aims to help leaders navigate the Australian education landscape by balancing their obligations and duties in this area with the expectations and responsibilities of leading a Christian school. This is summarised in the following diagram:

knowing god

What will I be doing at the residency?

“Leadership is not the accumulation of influence and power; it is the distribution of influence and service” Ed Stetzer

Coram Deo will take the form of 3 residencies spread over 18 months, with an initial intake of 10 participants. Residencies will usually be connected to other major CEN conferences such as the Executives Conference, AGM and so on.

An action research model will be adopted, where participants will be asked to identify an issue or item affecting their school prior to commencing the first residency. This will form the “problem” to be studied as your project. A simple stepped approach is then employed – data is collected, analysed, and interpreted, a plan is developed and implemented to address the problem, the results are assessed and follow up actions taken. This provides an ‘on-the-job training’ type of experience.

Over the course of the residencies, Coram Deo presenters and mentors will help you apply the various leadership concepts and principles to your project, and monthly online sessions will also be available between residencies. At the end of the 18 months, it is expected that participants will have devised solutions to their project and be able to apply the same principles in other areas of their school.


What does the timeline look like?

The first cohort of Coram Deo was delayed due to COVID-19. The inaugural residential is suggested for Sunday 15th – Tuesday 17th August 2021 on the Gold Coast. This is the few days ahead of our Developing Leaders and Teaching and Learning conferences.

The second residential is suggested for Tuesday 23rd – Thursday 25th November 2021, backing on to the Godly Governance Conference. We remain committed to ensuring that the residentials tie in with other CEN events.

The calendar for 2022 would then include a residential at the AGM & National Conference in May.

How does a principal apply?

Click here to download the application form.

For application enquiries, please contact Melinda Storm (melinda.storm@cen.edu.au)

Will there be work or a project involved in this?

Participants will all be expected to identify a project that they would like to work on to benefit their community. An action research model will be used to identify, understand and develop this project.

What is this going to cost?

A total 18-month pathway consisting of 3 residencies will cost $9,500. This includes all aspects of the residency (food and accommodation) but excludes travel.

More information

For more information and to discuss suitability, please contact one of the Coram Deo convenors. 

Michelle Dempsey

Mark Steyn

Simon Matthews

Chris Prior 

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Romans 12:2)

“You don’t think your way into a new kind of living. You live your way into a new kind of thinking.”
(Henri Nouwen)