I was facing most Bible college students’ two worst nightmares coming into my last semester:
I had no idea where I was going after graduation, and I was single.
Thankfully, God soon opened a door for me to go to Foundation Baptist Church in Sammamish, WA; getting married took a little longer, but that’s happening next month.
If you’re in Bible college, you might be like I was; I don’t have any advice right now when it comes to singleness, but I’d like to point your mind towards one post-graduation possibility: find a church planter, and go help him.
I know the feelings of fear and disappointment that come with not knowing what you will be doing after your senior year. It’s scary! It’s hard not knowing if you’ll have a chance to serve God in the way that you hoped for, after preparing for it for four years.
I think most students in this situation either go home, or simply stay at the church they’re at while going to college. Most Bible colleges, at least in the circles I run in, are heavily supported, if not run by, a local church.
I get it; I thought about going home myself, before my current pastor called me. Home is comforting (for many, at least); and if you don’t know what to do, why not go there? Same with your local church. At Heartland Baptist Bible College, where I graduated, almost every student goes to Southwest Baptist Church. It’s a great church, and most students come to love it! Why not stay there, if it’s comfortable, and you are already serving?
Going home, or staying where you are, may be the right choice for some, and it’s certainly not my intent to denigrate anyone who does so; but it may be that you could be a greater blessing, and have a more meaningful ministry, by finding a church planter who needs help.
Let me use myself as an example. I went to Southwest Baptist Church, and was active in serving there. I enjoyed getting to work on their bus routes, and help in Sunday School classes. Certainly those are important things! But SBC has thousands of people attending; they had lots of people to draw from; they had so many people, that most did not have a chance to serve the Lord to the full extent of their abilities. It’s easy to get lost in that shuffle, and more young people came in every year through Heartland.
My church back home was similar; I would have had chances to serve there, but there certainly wasn’t a need for me to go back. I come from a wonderful church that’s full of people who are faithfully serving God.
On the other hand, I look at the church I’ve been at for the last three years. Foundation Baptist Church is a fantastic church, and I am blessed with a wonderful, faithful, church family. Our membership is not 500 or 1,000, however; it’s closer to 50. We don’t have a choir; we have 4 or 5 people in our music ministry. We struggle to have enough teachers. There is a lot to do, and not enough people to do it!
Our church isn’t alone; there’s church plants across the country that need faithful people who love the Lord. In fact, we started a new church almost two years ago; that church still doesn’t have a pianist, music director, youth director, or any staff besides the pastor. They need some faithful Christians to go and serve! In one year, we are starting another church in Seattle. That church will need faithful people, too!
I get that most people want to go to a church that has a lot to offer them, like full-time salary, an office, maybe even housing; but every church can’t offer those things. There are small churches that are still deserving of someone to go and invest in them. There are teenagers who need a youth pastor, even though their church can’t pay. There are congregations that need a faithful music director.
When my pastor interviewed me, he read me this wanted ad that Ernest Shackleton posted when he was looking for sailors on his voyage to the Antarctic:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.
That’s what a lot of church plants have to offer. You may get little (or no) pay; you may get no housing; you may not be full-time within two years. You may, in fact, never be full-time at all. You may not get recognition or attention. But you will have an opportunity to serve the Lord in a place where you are needed! You’ll have an opportunity to be used by God to make a difference in people’s lives. You’ll have an opportunity to see God grow and develop His church.
If you are graduating and need somewhere to go, think and pray about going to help a church plant. Don’t wait to be asked; call a pastor! If you don’t know any, ask your school to give you a list. Tell him you want to come out and visit; tell him you are interested in coming to help him, if he’s interested. You may not get any awards at graduation; you may not be a group member, or an RA, or have the best homiletics grade. But faithful pastors need faithful men and women. If you have four years of ministry training, you could be an incredible asset to a small church. You have no idea what a blessing you could be to a church planter just by serving faithfully.