Measuring a Spiritual Atmosphere

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If a spiritual atmosphere on campus is important to you in your college choice, you are not alone.

In a fall 2013 MBU parent survey, parents rated the spiritual atmosphere on campus as the top influencer in their choice of Maranatha Baptist University, assigning it 4.8 points out of 5. New students, when surveyed, also assigned the greatest significance to the spiritual atmosphere.

Obviously, spiritual atmosphere matters. But is it possible to verify its existence or calculate its impact? You will find no flashing signs or colorful billboards announcing a vibrant spiritual atmosphere on our campus, but stay for a while—visit our classrooms, attend chapel, meet our students—and you will witness its presence in a number of ways.

The Way We Talk

“I hear words of encouragement all the time at MBU, not only from friends but also from faculty and staff,” shared Jessica Pyle, sophomore Cross-Cultural Studies major from Wisconsin.

“One night in particular after a busy day of classes, I came back to my dorm and spent almost an hour talking and praying with my dorm supervisor. It’s a gift to feel the importance placed on edification at MBU and to see the effect this has on the atmosphere around campus.”

Speaking truth to one another is part of life at Maranatha. Daily chapel times unify students around God’s Word, and student-initiated prayer and study groups help build relationships and provide accountability. Campus organizations such as societies, Student Body, and the Community Relations Council add more opportunities for students to encourage each other on every level.

“Iron sharpens iron,” commented Peter Huber, director of student activities. “Each of the ten societies has a chaplain; Student Body has a chaplain. When students gather for society meetings or Student Body chapels, time is set aside for getting into the Word and applying it.”

Societies provide a unique setting for the “sharpening” process, Huber added. Some have members speak about what God has put on their hearts, and others fellowship with each other as they spread the gospel. Students preach and sing carols at nursing homes or help in practical ways like shoveling driveways or raising money for community projects.

“When students share and participate individually, something greater happens,” Huber stated. “It creates a spiritual atmosphere on campus that brings likeminded students together and attracts others who have a love for God and desire to serve Him.”

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The Way We Learn

Accomplishing our mission “to develop leaders for ministry in the local church and the world ‘To the Praise of His Glory’” implies that all graduates will be effectively equipped to serve God with competence in a church and in their chosen vocation—a monumental responsibility for our administration, faculty, and staff.

Like any organization, our institutional successes are supported by the quality of our employees. For the University, a dedicated and loyal workforce is our most valuable asset. In every area—including teacher education, fine arts, nursing, humanities, business, and vocational ministry—our faculty members have created a culture of caring, where discipleship is woven into classroom instruction and professors share knowledge and wisdom beyond the textbooks.

A mentoring approach sets the tone on campus and contributes to a robust learning environment and spiritual atmosphere in the classroom. The “cutthroat competition” that you may encounter other places does not exist here, shared Music Department Chair Dr. David Ledgerwood. Each student genuinely desires to help the other, regardless of level, and “we develop our gifts for the Lord’s glory rather than exalting our own egos”—an attainable standard when students are teachable.

“Students view their assignments as part of their responsibility to the Lord, more than simply fulfilling a class requirement,” stated Ledgerwood. “They see it as their sacred duty to do their best for the Lord’s honor. It is a privilege to teach that kind of student.”

When surveyed, students reported satisfaction in relation to academic services. In nearly every category on the 2012 Noel Levitz survey, MBU scores were above the national average for four-year private institutions, and trends were increasingly positive. Excellent instruction, valuable content, approachable advisors, and a knowledgeable faculty “who care about me as an individual” were all categories of greater satisfaction.

Our faculty is passionate about their relationship with the Lord, their jobs, and about their students, and it has led students to respond, “When I graduate, I want to look like my teachers.”

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The Way We Play

From its inception in 1968, Maranatha Baptist University has competed in intercollegiate sports. Founders Dr. and Mrs. Cedarholm were deeply committed to co-curricular programs in athletics and believed sports suited the school’s mission and contributed to the overall educational experience.

Athletics provides a forum where Christlikeness can be developed and demonstrated toward others, shared Athletic Director Rob Thompson. Intercollegiate athletics should promote the character development of participants, enhance the integrity of higher education, provide the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, and promote service and civility in our local churches and society as a whole.

Service and soccer go hand in hand for Taylor Pill, a soccer team captain and junior Sport Management major from Wisconsin. “The soccer team uses the phrase ‘People Helpin’ People’ to mean, ‘I’ve got your back,’” Pill shared. For Pill, helping people meant helping fellow teammate, Wira Wama, who was new to America and to MBU, but certainly not new to the game of soccer. Wira had made his mark in Papua New Guinea (PNG), playing for the Hekari United Football Club as well as the PNG Youth National Team before making his way to Watertown.

“The soccer team made Wira feel at home with small gestures like buying a PNG flag for a fan to wave at games and singing the PNG national anthem during one of the pregame meetings,” shared Pill. Later in the season, opportunity arose to dig deeper.

“Wira was hardly prepared for the Wisconsin weather in terms of proper clothing,” shared Pill. The team quickly realized this and raised $120 toward the ‘Warming Wira Project’—enough to buy a winter coat. Many of the guys gave gloves, hats, long-sleeved shirts, and lighter jackets to help him as well. “We all love Wira,” Pill said.

From soccer to wrestling and women’s volleyball, each athletic team has its own way of ministering within and meeting needs without—in the community, in churches, on foreign fields, to children and the elderly and everyone in-between. We’re creating a spiritual atmosphere where winning and the thrill of the game fall in line behind the purpose of any athletic contest, shared Thompson: to please and honor the Lord Jesus Christ in every endeavor.

The Way We Live

Gauging the level of a spiritual atmosphere on campus or measuring the transmission of an ethos into a life pattern is challenging. Over the years, Maranatha has relied on data regarding student participation and alumni persistence in Christian ministry as good indicators of both concepts.

“Surveys from recent graduating classes demonstrate high Baptist church membership (84 percent) and active participation in local church ministry (95 percent),” shared Dr. John Davis, dean of students. “We believe these numbers represent faithful families and churches who send us high-caliber students who attend Maranatha and lock in to a purpose to serve God in their homes, churches, communities, and the vocations God has prepared for them.”

Is a spiritual atmosphere unique to Maranatha Baptist University? No, but our spiritual atmosphere is unique. And we invite you to experience it for yourself. Schedule a visit or call our Admissions Office to hear about it firsthand. Add your name to our mailing list and acquaint yourself with this website. Join us for an athletic event or come to a dramatic production.

“Even our accrediting board noticed a difference on campus,” shared University President Dr. Marty Marriott. “They could not get over the quality and impressiveness of the students they met and saw. They commented several times, ‘The best proof of your spirit of excellence is all around the campus in the students we see.’ And I agree. Our students make Maranatha special.”