On May 4, 2016, Mr. Michael B. Deckinga began his position as the Vice President of Advancement at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, IN. The VP of Advancement nurtures the Seminary’s external relationships and advances its mission through marketing, communications, and development. Mr. Deckinga’s work includes managing fundraisers and gifts as well as providing input on matters ranging from technology to finance to planning for the Seminary’s future.
While still new to the position, Mr. Deckinga was enjoying his work, particularly its relational aspects. “It has been a really enjoyable two months here, and I have loved getting to know the faculty and staff,” he said. “I eagerly await the return of the students in the fall so I can begin to get to know them.”
Visiting with Seminary supporters has touched his heart. “I’ve especially enjoyed meeting many of our friends out on the road,” he added. “It’s such a blessing to hear their stories of how God has sustained them and their families, and I’m humbled that they choose to support Mid-America by lifting us up in prayer and sharing with us financially.”
Mr. Deckinga came to the Seminary after a successful ten-year career with the Sherwin-Williams paint company. He began as Assistant Market Manager, but quickly progressed to Market Manager, and then was promoted to Professional Coatings Sales Representative. He explains that because the paint supply business is more of a service industry than a consumer commodity business, it prepared him well for the multiple tasks he now faces.
“As a sales representative, I learned first-hand the importance of a quality professional relationship tailored to individual need,” he said. “As a market manager, I focused on relationships with my customers and employees, but other duties helped me develop a strong business acumen. This financial aspect taught me the importance of exceeding budgeted plans for the development of an organization’s sound future.”
He sees how these skills are being utilized in his work for Mid-America. “My previous career equipped me to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and taught me about being an effective and motivating leader, which is essential in working closely with other staff members in a ‘self-motivating’ environment.” He also learned a great deal about becoming a more patient person, and jokingly adds, “Picking out the right color for a den can be a tremendously hard decision for some folks.”
While Mr. Deckinga’s business experience has its benefits, he recognizes the priority of fostering personal relationships. “Everything comes down to the quality of the relationships built. This focus on relationships will continue for me in my duties on behalf of the Seminary.”
Seminary President Dr. Cornel Venema related how, when Mr. Deckinga was under consideration, “He impressed us with his enthusiasm for the task, energetic manner, and openness to developing in the position.” He added, “Mike’s strengths are his familiarity with and enthusiastic commitment to Mid-America’s statement of its purpose as well as his understanding of how students who aspire to the gospel ministry need to be prepared academically and vocationally for this calling.”
Mr. Deckinga was educated in Christian schools in the southwest Chicago area, graduating from Trinity Christian College in 2006 with a B.S. in History and minors in Theology and Business. He and Kim live in Beecher, IL, with their four children, who range in age from ten months to five years. Mike is Chairman of the Deacons at Lynwood United Reformed Church, where the family attends.
Dr. Venema explains that the Vice President of Advancement is not a new position, although it is part of a larger transition at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Subsequent to the retirement of Mrs. Florence Kooiman, Vice President of Administration, Mr. Keith LeMahieu (who most recently served as Vice President of Development) assumed her role.
Another part of the transition includes Rev. Andrew Compton’s recent appointment as Assistant Professor of Old Testament studies.
Dr. Venema said, “These changes, though they do not quite amount to a ‘changing of the guard,’ do remind us of the need to find staff and faculty who will be able to serve effectively and faithfully in the future.”
Mike Deckinga has embraced his new calling with joy. “Training men to go out to the nations to preach the good news of salvation in Christ is good work, and I am humbled and delighted to be a part of it,” he said. “Working alongside and for like-minded Reformed brothers and sisters, and getting to meet and develop relationships with similar friends of the school is invigorating. I thank God every day for His providence in my life and for calling me to this work.”
The above is a slightly edited version of an article by Glenda Mathes that appeared on pages 12 & 13 of the August 3, 2016, issue of Christian Renewal.