December 2020- January 2021
Passing the Faith
College Admissions: Ministry?
By Daniel Webster
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, social services, education, politics, technology, farming, medicine, or sales, every believer should see vocation as an opportunity to minister for Christ. Some vocations make ministry outlets more obvious, and I admit, serving at a denomination’s Christian college provides more opportunities for ministry. But in my department—admissions and enrollment—the opportunities are not as obvious as they might be for theology and ministry professors.
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 asked President Pinson this question: how can college admissions be an outlet for ministry and more specifically, for pastoral ministry? Not only was he supportive of my asking this question, he encouraged me to see my new role as an outlet to continue my pastoral ministry. Here are five outlets for ministry unique to Christian college admissions.
The enrollment and admissions team at Welch College has the opportunity to be face-to-face with high school students consistently. This is the kind of opportunity many youth pastors would love to have! Many 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. Tasked with counseling students through the enrollment process, 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 make college decisions. Sometimes they end up at Welch, and sometimes they don’t—that’s okay. It brings us joy to know we are playing a part in the Kingdom.
I also have the unique opportunity to continue discipling students after they start 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 classes I teach at Welch, but also because of their familiarity with me due to the recruiting process.
Students are not the only ones who need discipleship and direction. Parents often make college decisions for their children with a “mixed bag” of values. I remind parents a successful career and making money are not bad things, but they should not be the main goal for any believer. I also remind parents attending a community college may be cheaper but paying a little more for Welch is worth the investment, because college is where many students meet their future spouses. Attending a state university may be closer to home, but the professors at Welch will not only provide a great education but do so through the lens of Scripture.
My department also has the pleasure of participating with youth events led by Randall House and IM, Inc. We look forward to serving alongside the leaders of E-TEAM, YET, and Truth & Peace, and 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 events this past summer were canceled in light of coronavirus, though, obviously, we understand this was the right decision. Furthermore, Welch makes $250,000 available to the participants of E-TEAM, YET, and Truth & Peace every summer. That’s a quarter million dollars in potential scholarship money for these students if they choose Welch College!
Each summer, my department trains and sends out more than 20 student representatives to attend 30-plus camps/conferences in at least 16 states. Each student rep has been CPR certified and trained by our staff to minister through music, preaching, teaching, and leading recreation.
More importantly—and my student reps can attest to this—we stress that our reps are at camps/conferences to serve. I even tell them service comes before recruiting. They’ve all heard my talk about not letting the camp director take the trash out. I tell them, “You go help and take those bags to the dumpster.” Our motto for student reps in Enrollment Services is “How Can I Help?”
Here at Welch, our department has the opportunity to be an active part of the student body by assisting Student Services with events throughout the year. Just as a youth pastor provides opportunities for fellowship for his youth group, we provide a venue for Christian fun and fellowship among the students. We take this as no light matter. Providing a safe, wholesome environment for students to mingle is a huge honor. Sure, we’re primarily a college to provide a Christ-focused education, but we do this in the context of a Christ-focused community. We minister to the Body of Christ in a big way every time we provide these kinds of events.
These five outlets are a big part of why I left serving as a lead pastor to be the director of enrollment at Welch College. I see these as a way to serve the Free Will Baptist church in a unique way, and in doing so, mentor young men and women to develop a heart for the local church and the lost around the world. 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 to His church and in His world?
About the Writer: Daniel Webster is director of enrollment and adjunct instructor at Welch College. He serves as moderator of the Northern Quarterly of the Cumberland Association of Free Will Baptists and as music director at Immanuel FWB Church in Gallatin, Tennessee. He and his wife Kimberly have three children.