I wrote this essay for my denomination’s magazine, One Magazine.
Many Christians have created an unnecessary and even dangerous separation between the “spiritual” and the “secular.” Perhaps nowhere is this more prevalent than in the area of vocation. Whether it be engineering, business, the arts, journalism, public service, education, technology, farming, medicine, or sales, every believer should see their vocation as an opportunity to minister for Christ. There are some vocations outside of the local church where ministry outlets are more apparent and, I admit, serving at a denomination’s Christian college provides more obvious opportunities. But in the areas of admissions and enrollment, the opportunities are not as obvious as they are for, say, theology and ministry professors, the campus pastor, or the campus counselor.
I’m a pastor. God has called me to serve the church through preaching and teaching, leading singing, discipling, and evangelizing. So, prior to accepting the position of Director of Enrollment at Welch College, I wanted to know, and I even asked President Matthew Pinson, how can college admissions be an outlet for ministry and, more specifically, for pastoral ministry? I was pleased to hear that he was not only supportive of my interest in this, but he encouraged me to seek this as an outlet to continue my pastoral ministry. Here are five outlets for ministry that are unique to Christian college admissions.
The enrollment and admissions team at Welch College has the opportunity to be consistently one-on-one with high school students. This is the kind of opportunity that many youth pastors would love to have! Often times, these students are nervous about God’s will for their lives. They wonder if God will provide for their future needs; they are unsure about what degree to pursue. We have been tasked with counseling through the enrollment process, but we seize the opportunity to have more of an impact. We disciple them by proclaiming truth into their lives. It is not unusual for my team to pray with and for potential students while they are making a college decision. Sometimes they end up at Welch, and sometimes they don’t—that’s okay. It brings us joy to know we are carrying out this kingdom work.
I have had the unique opportunity to continue discipling students after they have started classes at Welch. I have advised students on a variety of topics: stewardship of finances and time, ministry, entertainment choices, personal habits, marriage, dating, and more. These opportunities come about not only as a result of the adjunct classes that I teach at Welch, but also because of the students’ familiarity with me from the recruiting process.
Students are not the only ones who need discipleship and direction. Parents often make college decisions for their children from a mixed bag of values. I often remind parents that having a successful career and making money are not bad things, but they should not be the main goal for any believer. I have to also remind parents that while attending a community college may be the cheaper option, paying a little more for Welch is worth the cost because college is where many students meet their future spouse. Attending a state university may be the closer-to-home option, but the professors at Welch will provide a great education while also bringing a biblical worldview to bear on every subject.
My department also has the pleasure of participating with youth events that are led by Randall House Publications and International Missions. We look forward to serving alongside the leaders of E-TEAM, Y.E.T., and Truth & Peace while ministering to students directly and through acts of service during these events. These events are the highlight of our summers. Each member of my team and our student reps were devastated when the events of this past summer were canceled because of Coronavirus. (Obviously, we understand that cancellation was the best decision.) Furthermore, every summer Welch makes $250,000 available to the participants of E-TEAM, Y.E.T., and Truth & Peace. That’s a quarter of a million dollars in potential scholarship money for these students if they choose to come to Welch College!
Each summer my department trains and sends out more than twenty student reps to attend over thirty youth camps and conferences in at least sixteen states. Each student rep has been CPR certified and trained by our staff to minister through preaching, teaching, singing, and leading recreation. But more importantly—and my student reps can attest to my repetitive emphasis—we stress that our reps are present at these camps and conferences to serve. I even tell them that service comes before recruiting. They’ve all heard my talk about not letting the camp director take the trash to the dumpster. I tell them that they may never have the opportunity to teach and preach at camp; the job where they may be needed most is scrubbing toilets, managing the crowd, or serving in the mess hall. Our motto for student reps in Enrollment Services is How Can I Help?
Here at Welch, our department also has the opportunity to be an active part of the student body by assisting Student Services in providing events throughout the year. Just as a youth pastor would provide opportunities for fellowship for his youth group, we also provide a venue for Christian fellowship among the students. This is no light matter. Providing a safe and wholesome environment for the students to mingle is a necessity—that’s why many students and parents choose Welch. Sure, we’re here primarily as a college to provide a Christ-focused education, but we do this in the context of a Christ-focused community. We are ministering to the body of Christ in a big way every time we provide these kinds of events.
These five outlets are the main reason why I left my place of service as a lead pastor to be the Director of Enrollment at Welch College. I see this as a way to serve the Free Will Baptist church in a unique way, and in doing so, mentor young men and women to have a heart for the local church and the lost around the world. I am still very much so doing pastoral ministry.
If your vocation is outside of the local church, I hope you will ask the same question: How can my job be a ministry outlet for Christ, His church, and His world?