Why Bible College?



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DSC_8538Written by: Rich Janes

{Part One}

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” —Benjamin Franklin

For many people, the idea of a Bible College education evokes a dismissive response, something that is no longer valued in our ever changing and enlightened culture. According to some critics, such a pathway towards a career in ministry has been categorized as being inferior, irrelevant, or even injurious. It is not uncommon to hear the comment that it would be better for young adults – who sense the call of God on their lives for ministry – to get “a real education” that will prepare them for “the real world.” This invariably affects their opinions about the type of education they would receive at a place like Master’s College and Seminary, and ultimately may affect their choice of career path.

In light of this, the questions must be asked: Why do we need Bible Colleges in Canada; and further, what in the world is the purpose of pursuing Biblical higher education in today’s largely secular culture?

To answer these questions we must first define what we believe to be our purpose and our mandate. How should we characterize ourselves and what do we understand is our role within the vast scope of Kingdom initiatives. To quote Dr. Ralph Enlow, President of the Association of Biblical Higher Education, our collective understanding of our task within this context, “has become crystallized in terms of the following four concepts: biblical, transformational, experiential, and missional.” These are the guiding principles to which MCS is held accountable, not just by the ABHE, but we are accountable to each and every church in eastern Canada, every pastor, every leader, every current student, and every future student and their families.

Allow me to paraphrase a few of Dr. Enlow’s thoughts in answering how these four pillars provide the foundation for what we do at Master’s and ultimately how they answer the “purpose question.”

There is a shocking level of Biblical illiteracy and misunderstanding among believers of all ages in our churches today, and the Bible College/Seminary is well positioned to address these gaps through our creative and innovative teaching styles, in-depth and participatory exploration of the biblical narrative and its history, and an emphasis on viewing the Bible as a direct conduit into the very heart and mind of God as He interacts with His people – yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Our mission is to help students know that the Bible is readable, reliable, and relevant; and as they engage with it on a regular basis they are strengthened and sharpened to live for Jesus to the best of their ability.

A recent study commissioned by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada suggested that, “reflection on the meaning of the Bible for people’s lives is an important kind of Bible engagement, but that conversation with others about the meaning of the Bible is the key factor in deepening Bible engagement.” With this in mind, we define a biblical education as the comprehensive and serious study of God’s sacred, eternal, and life giving Word, not from a detached or skeptical position, but with a posture towards discipleship and submission, seeking to understand the will of God so that we may conform to it and be transformed by it. We whole-heartedly believe that the Bible is essential to an authentically Christian way of understanding and engaging life, and thus, the scriptures pervade every aspect of the educational process at the College/Seminary. In these shifting times, where culture is simultaneously tolerant of every new concept, idea, or theory, and yet increasingly intolerant towards the truths of the Bible, it requires a renewed depth of knowledge and understanding of the Word so that students can live as people who are full of truth and full of grace, able to speak lovingly and prophetically into the context in which they live.

A second distinctive we embrace at MCS is that we engage intentionally in transformational education – transformation measured not by a life orientation which Dr. Enlow describes as “self-actualization or self-fulfillment, but rather by a posture of submission and self-denial, living out Kingdom values and Gospel priorities before a watching world.” When the challenges of life stretch students, character flaws and underdeveloped virtues are often exposed. Purposeful and prayerful developmental support can help students recognize these character deficiencies, discern how to work on their weaknesses, and foster opportunities for transformational moments where Christ is formed in them (Galatians 4:19). Further, as a Pentecostal institutional, we are constantly seeking the Spirit’s indwelling presence and power to do the work of transformation that will forever change students’ lives.

Since the Bible is given by God as a primary means of spiritual transformation (Romans 12:1-2; Heb. 4:12), you can easily recognize how these first two distinctives – biblical and transformational – are inextricably linked together, and why they matter so much and factor so heavily into the leadership development journey of a Masters’ College and Seminary student.

In part two of this blog, I will cover the final two pillars – experiential and missional – as they relate to the purpose for a Bible College education.

I’d love to continue this conversation and hear your thoughts about these first two pillars. Please feel free to post a comment in the section below.

Please come back for {Part Two} of Rich’s post on Sunday September 11, 2016.


About Rich:

“It is a huge honour to serve as the twelfth President of Master’s College and Seminary. I am guided by a clear vision to shape the next generation of Kingdom-minded leaders and driven to see people of all walks of life fulfill God’s call on their life. With a strong belief in the local church, a collegial leadership style, and a philosophy of partnership with ministry leaders from diverse contexts, I am deeply committed to seeing students become influencers who are passionate about leading cultural transformation. In this role as President, I am intent on leading an institution that is focused on educating and equipping students to be reflective practitioners, along with being leaders of the highest integrity and character.

Returning to work at my alma mater has truly been the privilege of a lifetime. I graduated from Eastern Pentecostal Bible College in 1995 with a Bachelor of Theology Honours Degree (Youth Major) and I’m now currently completing a Master’s in Ministerial Leadership at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Prior to coming to MCS, we (our family) had the privilege of being involved in youth ministry for 17 years, having served in various capacities at Liberty Pentecostal Church in Bowmanville, ON (six years) and at Woodvale Pentecostal Church in Ottawa, ON (eleven years) as Pastor of Student Ministries and Parent Networking. I joined the team at Master’s in 2009 and formerly served the school as the Director of Recruiting, Communication and FIRST YEAR Program.

One of the aspects of my role that I enjoy most is visiting churches, meeting leaders, and experiencing the many diverse ways that the Kingdom of God is advanced in eastern Canada. I would be honoured to serve you and your church leadership teams, through preaching, teaching, leadership development sessions, or personal coaching/consulting. If you’re interested in having me (and possibly a MCS Student Ministry Team) visit your church, please check-out our www.mcsprodigy.com page for more information.”