Apr 22 2016

Back at It

If you’re anything like me, you’ve never been the school going kind. Trust me, I know how you feel. At eighteen, I remember the day I turned in my last exam for my senior year. I felt like dancing out of the classroom. I couldn’t stand homework and tests. When time came to sport the cap and gown, I was grinning ear to ear. Most of my classmates knew what college they had been accepted to and what degree they were going to earn. Me, I just wanted to be done and start working. My parents supported my decision saying, “Don’t go into debt for a degree you’re not even sure you want.” So that’s what I did and I don’t regret it. During those twelve years, I became a different person. My goals changed. I realized the gifts and talents God had given me and what I was passionate about. Once I figured that out, I was excited to get back into school.

When I signed up for my first semester classes, it was a rough transition. I realized I had no management of my time. I’d sit down with the intention of reading one chapter out of my text book and before I knew it, somehow I had ended up spending an hour scrolling Facebook. I decided that if I was going to take school seriously, I had to sit down and figure out a time schedule that worked for me. Once I did , I stuck to it. This means I don’t have as much time as I use to when it comes to hanging out with friends, cruising social media sites or watching TV but it’s worth it. I know the goal I’m aiming for and I won’t sway from it.

Dean's ListMaybe you’ve thought about going back to school but feel inadequate after being out for so many years. Maybe you’ve realized the path you’re heading down has no goal to aim for. Well I’m here to tell you, all it takes is one step at a time in the right direction. For me, that was school. When you first get into the swing of things, it’s easy to feel intimidated. I’m so bad about focusing on the end result instead of the one step that’s before me. I have to remind myself to just focus on the assignment I have right now and not on how I’m going to get through the year. When God is leading you in a certain direction, He walks it with you. He provides you the peace, strength and grace you need. All it takes is a step of faith. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”. God’s plan is for you to thrive. Maybe college is the doorway you need to access that future. If so, do it. Don’t wait another year. God’s got big plans in store for you and to live that dream, you have to do your part.

Betty Rock

Feb 24 2016

The Case for the Christian College

Like many families, we made a list of colleges to visit when our youngest son was a graduating senior a few years ago.   Jeremy had done well in high school but was still unclear on what he wanted to do after college.  A couple of Christian Colleges had striking shore-side views. Princeton was interesting, but orange as a school color did not appeal to Jeremy. In the end, Jeremy applied to one Christian college and one Ivy League school. He got accepted to both and visited the campuses as he prayed through what God had for him.

In the end, Jeremy chose the Christian college. Many of his friends, family, and teachers asked, “Why not the Ivy League option?” Was it the money? Was it the weather? Maybe he didn’t like the school color.

Why does it make sense to choose a Christian college over a larger university, even a prestigious one?

Here are several factors to keep in mind. First and foremost, the key to a college education is the person who stands at the chalkboard. When I asked Jeremy about his choice, he talked about how relationships were important. He was looking for Christian role models who could walk with him as he prepared for the real world from a biblical worldview. The Christian character of the professors is as important as their competency. This is not to say that Christian college faculty members are not well-prepared. Many of them have doctoral degrees from the finest universities in the world. The institution I lead recently hired a faculty member with an undergraduate degree from an Ivy League institution as well as a graduate degree from Oxford in England. I asked him why he wanted to come to Crown. His answer, “To mentor and disciple students.” In the end, ask yourself the question, “Who do I want to be like when I grow up?” The answer can help you in choosing the right college.

Large universities are classified as R1 universities, which means they are primarily research institutions not teaching colleges. Faculty members are primarily there to do research not teach. The teaching work is done in huge classes or left to graduate students. When I took Economics 101 at Miami University, there were 800 students in my section – all in the same room! When my brother-in-law studied at Ohio State, most of his general education courses were not taught by real professors. They were taught by Teaching Assistants (TAs). My English instructor at Miami had just started as a grad student, and our class was her first attempt at teaching. Most Christian colleges are teaching institutions with regular professors teaching small classes. At our College the average class size is about 20 with no classes of 50 or more. This not only makes for a great classroom experience, but it also allows faculty members the opportunity to meet life-on-life with students outside of class.

Not only are relationships with faculty members important, but so are friendships and the influence of other students. Today’s secular colleges and universities tend to have high rates of activities and student behavior that are out of sync with God’s standards. My wife and I went with Jeremy to a large university for a scholarship day. In one of the workshops, the college staff assured parents that the behavior of college students is not as bad as some think. They said that not all students were sexually active–only about 60%. They also said that not all students drink alcohol regularly, only 85%. You can see that the Christian student is going to be committed to a much different set of values. Recently, Jeremy’s older brother, Josh, who graduated several years ago from a Christian college, flew from Oregon to the wedding of a college friend in Wisconsin. Those college friendships rooted in Christ proved to be one of the important highlights of his college career.

What are you looking for in a college experience? I would suggest you look at who are going to be your Christian mentors. You might want to also consider the class size at the institution where you plan to attend. Lastly, who would you like to have as a roommate, classmate, or in your wedding? These may be things you won’t find in the Ivy League.

Dr. Rick Mann has served at Crown College in Minnesota as Vice President of Academic Affairs from 2002-2006, and as President since 2006

Feb 24 2016

10 Essentials for Every Christian College Student

Only one percent of the world’s population are college students and I commend you if you are one of the few and the proud that represent us in institutions of higher learning. It’s one thing, though, to start college and quite another to finish it. In fact, most drop out somewhere along the way and just under 25 percent of Americans have actually completed a college degree.

My definition of college? A window of time God gives us to make critical decisions and prepare ourselves to live them out.

One reason students give up on college is because of “priority pressure,” the constant stress of trying to choose what is good – versus what is best. If you’re currently a college student, I know your life is swirling around you like a Kansas tornado, but unless you want to be picked up and swept away like Dorothy and Toto, read and heed the “10 Essentials for Every Christian College Student.”

1. Choose a Life Purpose

It is a choice and you get to make it. You have a free will, but an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God gave it to you. So why not revolve your life purpose – not your choice of major, mind you, but something much more basic – around the One Who gave you life in the first place? Don’t let one more episode of (insert your favorite reality TV program here) go by before you’ve nailed this down. Lock your door, get your Bible out, and search.

As a sophomore I came up with: To glorify God through knowing Him and making Him known to others.” Not original, but it was mine. Having a God-centered life purpose gets you up in the morning, helps you make good decisions, and looks cool on your bathroom mirror.

2. Develop a Biblical Worldview

I’m reading an intriguing book by Chuck Colson called How Now Shall We Live? that’s giving me a major paradigm shift. After taking two Tylenol, I admitted that I had a puny, self-centered worldview and forced myself to ask, “Am I looking at life from my perspective or from God’s?”

When we saturate our minds with the Word, we develop a God-shaped grid to run every song, movie and idea through.

3. Seek Out the Right Friends

My pastor says, “If you’re trying to follow Christ, don’t choose as your best friend someone who is running from Him.” Studies show at least 50 percent of students have cheated and don’t think it’s wrong, almost one fourth are frequent binge drinkers, and cohabitation (us old timers call it “shackin’ up’) is at an all time high.

Be careful, getting tight with one of these folks could be more painful than watching an XFL football game on “ESPN Classic”! I’m not saying don’t befriend non-Christians – that’s the key to drawing them to Christ. But bind your heart to someone who is really seeking God: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Touche!

4. Join a Good Church

Away from home? No one to tell you to get up and go find one of those premium back-row seats at the fam’s church? Now you can find out what you’re really made of! Micro scooter yourself over to the late service of that local fellowship that:

  1. Teaches the Bible as the Word of God
  2. Has great worship
  3. Welcomes you and your friends

Don’t just sit and soak it in, though. Give your time, talent, and treasure to those folks. It will pay great dividends.

5. Form Consistent Study Habits

I’m a total hypocrite even mentioning this one because I don’t think I cracked a book until midway through my junior year! Yeah, you can buy tests and papers via the Internet, and supposedly everybody does it, but why not keep your integrity intact? Besides, having a clear conscience and an educated mind is a powerful combination!

As I “matured” in college, I started going to every class, sitting in the front row, and finding the top student to study with. Stay focused and you’ll get to be part of those 24 percent of U.S. citizens who possess a college degree. Be all you can be!

6. Initiate Personal Ministry

To balance out #5, I must say: Don’t let your studies get in the way of your education! The biggest lesson you will learn at college is what God wants to do in your life – and through your life. Find a group that’s trying to witness and disciple others. Pray about living on campus, starting or joining a small group Bible study, sharing your faith and seeing God change some lives for eternity.

If you really want to get radical, join the thousands of students who do short term summer mission trips. Look ’em up at www.ShortTermMissions.com.

7. Set up Dating Standards

Fifty-seven percent of collegians claim they’re “sexually active.” Think this is just locker-room braggadocio? Think again. Many are looking for sex without strings and relationships without rings. Over 16 million people are downloading their love life via online dating services. That’s more people than have ever even heard of Roy Orbison’s song Only the Lonely.

Here is a profundity: You will marry someone that you date! Commit yourself to only date others who have the kind of goals, faith and character you want in a mate someday. Think I’m being picky? Exactly!

8. Maintain a Proper Balance

Harry Potter’s Professor Dumbledore sheds this light: “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Whether you like Harry’s series or not, the prof’s got a point. College is all about choices. With suicide now the third-leading cause of death among college age young people, it’s time to adopt the foursquare life that Jesus sought in Luke 2:52: “He increased in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man.”

WWJD? He chose not to sweat the small stuff, but instead to develop Himself mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

9. Appreciate Your Parents

OK, so my wife put me up to this one. It is amazing, though, how much smarter your parents get once you leave for college! You begin remembering all their laborious lectures and suspect that maybe they did have a sliver of wisdom in those thick brains! And if you catch fire for Christ, don’t make the mistake I did and go home and tell your parents they’re going to hell. People most often become Christians through the witness of a family member. So call them. Visit them. Tell them you love and appreciate them; and if they oppose you getting branded with a “tribal art” tattoo – hear them out!

10. Keep Graduation in Mind

Nearly one third of freshmen drop out of college their first year. Congrats if you are part of the remaining two thirds! Also, know that those with college degrees earn nearly twice as much as those without. But more important than a diploma or an extra zero on your paycheck is what kind of person you plan on being when you graduate.

My definition of college? A window of time God gives us to make critical decisions and prepare ourselves to live them out.

Set goals, seek the Lord, build a deep foundation and understand that the end of your college career says so much more about you than the beginning.

Oh, and have some fun, too!