In a day with increasing capacity for online education, our online programs at West Coast Baptist College have expanded. We have online programs for students to pursue both undergraduate and graduate studies at wcbc.edu. These are outstanding programs with the software capabilities to make it a surprisingly rich experience, and we have received encouraging testimonies from both students and graduates. (Call 888-694-9222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
And yet, this week, as I watch students arriving for the start of the fall semester here in Lancaster, I’m reminded of the irreplaceable benefits of an on-campus Bible college experience. Here are a few:
- Personal relationships and mentoring by faculty—No one remembers everything they were taught in class, but they remember every teacher. On-campus training allows you to learn “doctrine and manner of life” from instructors (2 Timothy 3:10).
- Lifelong friendships—The friendships you develop in your early adult years can become lifelong relationships that encourage and edify beyond the college experience. These friendships can be invaluable as you serve the Lord throughout the rest of your life.
- The iron sharpening iron effect—The interaction with other students with the same desires and goals sharpens you and provides constant challenge and encouragement (Proverbs 27:17).
- Maturing through dorm life and life away from home—God has designed us at some point to leave home (Genesis 2:24). College life prepares a young adult for marriage, ministry, and life on their own. You learn responsibilities and develop disciplines as you are forced to live independently of your family. Financial pressures, schedule stresses, homesickness, etc., all are part of God’s process to prepare us to go anywhere in the world He needs us and calls us.
- Social development through activities—Intramural sports, dramas, college choirs and music ensembles, dating opportunities, and fun activities make the on-campus college experience memorable and exciting.
- Meeting a spouse—While not everyone meets their future husband or wife at college, the potential of meeting someone with similar beliefs, convictions, and goals for life are greater at Bible college than at home.
- Spiritual emphasis—Daily chapel, dorm devotions, and special services give students an opportunity to hear preaching a dozen or more times each week and have opportunity to receive encouragement and counsel in your decisions.
- Protection and encouragement—Both online and on-campus students may work between class time in secular employment, but the on-campus student has the opportunity daily to come back to a spiritual environment at the end of the day. It is much easier to recalibrate your life on a daily basis when surrounded for the majority of your time with godly influence.
- Available faculty—Our faculty has an open door policy. Any student can drop in any time. This means that twenty-four hours a day students have access to mentoring, encouragement, discipleship, and counsel from people with cumulatively over a one thousand years of ministry experience.
- Involvement in a vibrant local church—We are blessed to welcome students who already have had huge investments poured into their lives by their parents and home pastors. Our church family takes the responsibility to continue mentoring in ministry seriously. All of our faculty are engaged in personal and passionate local church ministry on a weekly basis, and all of our students get to serve in weekly local church ministry and soulwinning in a training context.
None of us want surgery from a doctor who completed all of his surgical training online. We want someone who has interned under a skilled surgeon. We don’t want police officers trained online for hostile situations. We know they need to be mentored through real-situation experiences.
This is the opportunity afforded at a biblically-based local church Bible college. Online programs can be terrific for helping with growth in knowledge and an academic experience. But for a young adult seeking ministry training, I believe an on-campus education allows for the best model of Philippians 4:9—“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.”
It is our privilege to partner with wonderful churches from across America in training the next generation of servant leaders. Please pray for us and for our students as this week we begin our twenty-second year of training laborers for His harvest here at West Coast Baptist College.