A key to understanding Maranatha Baptist University is understanding its ministry mindset. Christian service, though voluntary, is an integral part of campus life; and regardless of major, students are challenged to use their education, gifts, and talents to serve God and minister to others with their lives.
In our community
An evidence of a ministry mindset is an enthusiasm to participate in ministry opportunities in a variety of places and settings. Students can put their faith to work here in Watertown, and the University has cultivated positive relationships with many community members and businesses.
Over a semester, students average 1,000 hours volunteering for weekend camps and local special needs organizations, ministering at nursing homes, helping with regional and state youth rallies, tutoring in area schools, and showing appreciation to Watertown’s police and fire department.
“The students want to help others,” shared Peter Huber, director of student activities. “This is the visible fruit of a Christ-centered life.”
For student body council member, Emily Ranch, simply showing up became a difference-maker in a young girl’s life. An Elementary Teacher Education major, Ranch was introduced to Big Sisters her sophomore year and was matched with Lia, a fifth grade girl who struggled with emotional and behavioral disorders.
“She was pretty disengaged the whole semester; but one day, I came in early to meet with her teacher, and Lia came screaming into the room and started crying in the corner,” Ranch said. “As the teacher talked to her, Lia finally admitted she was upset because she thought I hadn’t come that day. Until then, I didn’t think she cared.”
Providentially, Ranch spent her junior practicum (50 hours) in Lia’s middle school classroom. The changes she saw in Lia’s life during that time were remarkable.
“I was able to grow our relationship by taking Lia out for ice cream and playing games with her after school,” Ranch said. “I’ve been able to share the Gospel clearly with her at least once and have talked to her about her life and purpose on numerous occasions. God has something special planned for Lia.”
Ranch is serious about getting out of the Maranatha “bubble” and is quick to encourage others to do the same. “As students,” she shared, “we’re here to build bridges of friendship that can support the weight of truth.”
In local churches
Beyond going to church, our students regularly volunteer to serve in more than 70 partnering churches in the area—another evidence of a ministry mindset. On Sundays and Wednesdays, it is not unusual for students to participate in ministry by singing a solo, playing an offertory, ushering, signing, working in the nursery, teaching a Bible lesson, helping in youth group, or supervising children on a bus.
Attending local churches like Fellowship Baptist Church in Watertown affords students the opportunity to experience ministry and develop skills under the direction of faithful pastors and members—including University faculty and staff.
“One of our youth leaders served as a youth pastor for 20 years prior to coming to Watertown,” commented Chad Prigge, pastor of Fellowship. “He is now mentoring several University students who are considering youth ministry as a vocation. This is the kind of pattern we want to replicate for the good of our church today as well as the good of the Church tomorrow.”
For local church ministry, vocational or otherwise, preparation includes instruction in the Baptist distinctives. In fact, each student who earns a four-year degree from the University takes a class covering the Baptist tenets. The class, fittingly named Baptist Heritage, covers a study of the doctrine and history of Baptists and baptistic peoples, emphasizing their development over the last four hundred years.
Chip Herbert ‘10, MDiv ‘13, assistant pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Pekin, IL, first learned the Baptist tenets in a formal way in Dr. Saxon’s class. Through subsequent Bible Doctrine classes and training at Maranatha Baptist Seminary, his understanding of what it meant to be a Baptist deepened.
“Under the teaching of Dr. Oats and Dr. Moritz, I developed an even greater knowledge of Baptist history and fundamentalism,” shared Herbert. “I appreciate Maranatha’s stand as a Baptist school and I love the fact that we have scholarly and godly men teaching in the University and the Seminary.”
Both Chip and his wife, Sarah (Pill)Herbert ’11, MA ’13, shared they were privileged to learn about their Baptist heritage under great men of the faith. “One of the most obvious ways for us to ‘carry the torch,’” Sarah commented, “is to continue to teach young people the same truths we have learned about the Bible, music, and the rest of life”—a task the Herberts have embraced in their present ministry.
Getting involved in ministry is a simple process at Maranatha Baptist University. Students may visit the Maranatha Community Relations Council to explore community-based projects and local volunteer openings; and all students attend Ministry Recruitment Day, a special chapel set aside to meet local pastors.
“The realness of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ results in students and graduates choosing, prizing, and acting upon the teachings of the Bible,” Dean of Students Dr. John Davis shared. “You see that happening at Maranatha Baptist University.”