By Carl Stagner
Free time or another conference? If you were one of the approximately 725 students who acknowledged a call to ministry while in San Antonio for IYC2016, you chose the latter early in the afternoon on Monday. But it wasn’t just another conference. It was the huddle of a new team of emerging leaders ready to take on the world with the message of the gospel. Students were applauded for accepting their call to ministry, prayed for, and given practical tools and tips to get started on the path to Christ-centered leadership. One of the most powerful resources we have to equip and train such leaders is Church of God higher education. Long before thousands of students descended on San Antonio, Texas, for the fiftieth International Youth Convention, Anderson University, Mid-America Christian University, Warner Pacific College, and Warner University took practical steps to unite their efforts for the sake of leadership development.
Every student who attended the Emerging Leaders gathering at IYC received a backpack. Inside each backpack were a variety of materials to help launch students onto their ministry path, including advertisements for each of the four Church of God schools. But new this year was a postcard that caught a lot people’s attention. On the front was pictured a scene from each of the four schools equidistant from a center text box that simply read, “Choose Church of God.” On the reverse side was printed a brief mission statement and contact information for each school. The Church of God is blessed to have four outstanding schools, and each one understands this fact. So it wasn’t too hard to get each one to band together to encourage IYC students to select from any one of the four. Serena Cline, director of alumni relations and annual giving for Warner Pacific College, explains.
“While my primary responsibilities are alumni relations and annual giving fundraising, I am also responsible for church relations. I have been on the Leadership Summit/Emerging Leaders calls for the past year and a half. As we were planning for IYC, we discussed what each college wanted to include in the backpacks during the Emerging Leaders Gathering at IYC. We thought it might be nice to have a unified piece for all of the Church of God colleges/universities. The motivation was to encourage students to check out their Church of God schools. I volunteered to take the lead on this, and Melody Burton (our communications specialist) created the piece. I contacted the director of admissions from each college and asked for a photo, mission statement, website, and admissions contact information. Each campus sent me their information. It was a relatively easy process to work with the three other colleges, and I hope the students find it helpful.”
At many college fairs, it may appear to prospective students and their parents that colleges will do whatever it takes to enroll a new student. But not so among Church of God colleges and universities, Serena explains. “I don’t see the colleges as competitors. I think we’re all interested in helping students find the right fit for their lives. While all four colleges are built on the foundation of Christ, and provide excellence in liberal arts, each of the colleges have distinct missions. We have unique strengths, academic programs, student populations, geographic locations, etc. Warner Pacific’s unique identity is in the diversity of our student population, as well as our location in the city of Portland. We are able to engage in and serve this city for Christ. I’ve stood next to Tiney Holyfield from MACU at a college fair in Arizona. We regularly referred students to each other’s tables, especially if one of our colleges didn’t have the academic program that the student was seeking. If the student can find what they’re looking for at our college, we’d love to help them find their fit at another Church of God school. All four of the colleges want to develop leaders for tomorrow—in their communities and in the Church of God.”
Were you blessed by reading this story? Support the ongoing work of Church of God Ministries with your gift to the World Ministry Fund at http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/world-ministry-fund/.