discipleship with sneakers
Christian Education and Youth Ministry at Free Will Baptist Bible College
by Barry Raper
Find out more about Free Will Baptist Bible College att www.fwbbc.edu.
LAST SPRING, SEVERAL STUDENTS and faculty members worked to raise money in order to punish their bodies. Some of you reading this article contributed to their cause. The “punishment” I refer to, of course, is the pain experienced while running the Music City Marathon.
People from all over the nation pledged money and gifts to runners and walkers participating in the race. Thanks to local businesses, churches, and Free Will Baptist individuals, we now have an award in place that honors a very special person.
Gerald Turner Award
The Gerald Turner Leadership Award is an annual award that will be given in honor of Gerald Lynn Turner, former FWBBC Student Body President who died unexpectedly in late 2006 at age 22. While at FWBBC, he was a Christian Education major and was serving as a youth minister in Tupelo, Mississippi, at the time of his death.
Gerald excelled in many areas during his time at FWBBC. In addition to being a serious student, he led FWBBC’s student body response efforts to help Hurricane Katrina victims. He also spearheaded the Excellence theme for students in 2005. He served as a summer intern in Oklahoma and went to Spain on a mission trip in preparation for full-time ministry.
President Matt Pinson said about him: “Gerald Turner had more promise than anyone of his generation. Young men like Gerald are so rare. He brought a warm heart, a hungry, inquiring mind, and a living faith to our campus.”
Gerald’s greatest contribution was the visible, everyday example of Christ-like service and excellence. The Gerald Turner Leadership Award is one of the ways we remember his example, while at the same time challenging and encouraging Free Will Baptist youth to follow his lead.
Lens of Scripture
The Christian Education and Youth Ministry Department at FWBBC is in place as a vibrant, living, and practical discipleship vehicle to influence and mold the denomination’s youth to think and feel deeply about the things of God, and to commit themselves to His service.
The goal of Christian education and youth ministry in a local church can be summed up in two brief statements—(1) to lead unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ, and (2) to present every man, woman, boy, and girl mature in Christ. It is about making disciples—persons who are lifelong learners and followers of Christ.
The Christian Education and Youth Ministry programs at FWBBC are designed to equip persons with a Biblical philosophy and theology of practical ministry. It’s discipleship that wears sneaker and meets communities where they are with a message of hope and encouragement.
We view the family as the foundational unit for passing along the Christian faith. Our task is to equip students to see their lives, their family, the local church, the ministry, and the world through the lens of Scripture.
Leaders for Tomorrow
This discipleship-with-sneakers approach to ministry reflects the FWBBC Mission Statement “to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through Biblical thought and life.” These leaders will then be trained and ready by God’s grace to go into all the world and make other disciples for the glory of God.
That’s discipleship. That’s ministry. That’s the Christian Education and Youth Ministry Department at Free Will Baptist Bible College. The plan is in place. The program is ready now for tomorrow’s leaders who want training today.
Here at FWBBC, discipleship wears sneakers. We put people who want to serve in places where they are needed. We give them a Biblical understanding of what service to others means, and we provide a warm Christian community of faith and learning. It’s a safe place, a place of academic rigor, and a place that launches Free Will Baptist youth into God’s great harvest field.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Reverend Barry Raper is Program Coordinator for the Christian Education and Youth Ministry Department at Free Will Baptist Bible College.