Local church ministry is a vital component of a Maranatha education, and many area pastors are grateful for that fact.
“We love having the students here at Calvary!” said Dr. Bob Loggans, senior pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown. “They are a huge blessing, and we count it an honor to have them as part of this local church.”
Students currently serve in more than 65 churches throughout southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Some fellowship with a body of believers in Watertown; others travel several hours to serve. Some churches help and encourage students by preparing Sunday dinner for them, giving them a place to stay during the afternoon, or even baking cookies as a gesture of appreciation.
The positive aspects of ministry education work both ways. Churches benefit from students’ energy and talents. Students benefit from churches providing avenues for service, practical experience, education, and mentoring.
“A very special dynamic within our ministry is the active presence of Maranatha students,” said Chad Prigge, senior pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in Watertown. “My desire as pastor is to provide our student members a spiritually vibrant environment in which they can experience authentic ministry, a veritable ‘hands on’ approach to local church ministry during their time with us.”
Evan Moore, a sophomore Pastoral Studies major from Johannesburg, South Africa, is one example of an active church member. He travels an hour to attend Greendale Baptist Church with junior Rodney King, also a Pastoral Studies major.The two young men provide help in many areas of church ministry—leading junior church and congregational singing, participating in choir, special music, and offertory, ushering, and even preaching.
“Whatever God wants me to do, whatever opportunities are there,” Evan said, “I believe we should take them.”
Although some students like Evan and Rodney travel more than an hour to attend Sunday services, some don’t have to go far at all.
Approximately 150 students are part of Calvary Baptist Church in Watertown. Calvary offers a myriad of ministry opportunities in which students can and do serve—Sunday school, nursery, children’s church, junior church, Truth Trackers, Lighthouse, audio/visual ministry, bus ministry, and visitation.
Another special opportunity Calvary offers is the English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry for Spanish- speaking people. Ashley Green, a junior Elementary Education major from Farmington, MN, participates in Calvary’s ESL program. Ashley has enjoyed meeting consistently with a Hispanic woman from the Watertown area and building a relationship. After several months of meeting with the same woman and teaching her English, Ashley is beginning to see the fruit of her labor. The woman has begun to ask spiritual questions.
“I’m praying for a good opportunity to talk to her specifically about the gospel,” Ashley said.
Ashley’s story is one of many that represents the wonderful way Maranatha students are able to impact lives within their church’s community.The influence of local church ministry impacts the lives of Maranatha students.
Andrew Starr, a graduate and Maranatha Baptist Seminary student, serves as the youth director for East Delavan Baptist Church in East Delavan, WI. Starr said the college experience helped prepare him for this opportunity. “I’m especially thankful for the influence of teachers and others who gave me the desire to go on to minister like they do,” he said.
Maranatha students are being actively trained to become church leaders while gaining many valuable lessons through local church service. It is a significant part of their college experience—for some, a life-changing experience.