Investing in the Spiritual Side of Education

Investing in the Spiritual Side of Education

Photo credit: Scott L. Huck/Cedarville University

by Sharyn Kopf—Cedarville, Ohio

September 10, 2008

If there’s one thing we can learn from personal social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace, it’s that people want to be known … and they want to be known for what makes them different. Questions like “Do I stand out? Am I special?” seem to cry out from every page.

“Why be like everybody else?” asks Cedarville University President Dr. Bill Brown. “At Cedarville, we don’t look around at what others are doing; we think God wants us to dig into His Word to determine how we measure our effectiveness.”

With that in mind, Cedarville University has its own approach to individuality, as it were, and it is reflected in our Distinctive Model for Spiritual Formation. Established over the years to show the uniqueness of a Cedarville education, these distinctives are divided into five key areas: daily chapel with relevant biblical teaching and authentic praise, the Bible minor requirement, the division of Christian ministries, the biblical approach to scientific research and study, and the focus on discipleship and missions.

A Chapel a Day …

Without a doubt, Cedarville’s daily chapel services stand out as a unique and vital opportunity. As one of only seven institutions in the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) to provide such a concentrated, campus-wide time of worship and biblical teaching, Cedarville lets the world know of its spiritual commitment.

And the students and graduates wouldn’t have it any other way. Ninety-five-year-old Geraldine Henry, who graduated with a teaching degree in 1941, still speaks of chapel as a highlight of her educational experience. For her part, Tonisia Jackson ’09 appreciates the bond that forms among the students as they worship together. In fact, the friends she sits with each day refer to each other as “the fam.”

A Lamp to My Feet

Each student leaves Cedarville with a minor in Bible, a program dedicated to preparing young people to face the challenges of the 21st century.

“It’s not merely a collection of Bible classes,” says Brown, “but a prescribed course of study that equips students to understand and apply God’s Word to life and culture.”

This year, the University affirmed the centrality of the Bible within its academic program and mission by building the Center for Biblical and Theological Studies and creating the School of the same name. The 25 Bible faculty members touch the lives of each one of the 3,000 students enrolled at Cedarville. “Our mission is to prepare students for life in the real world,” says Dr. Scott Dixon, director of the Bible minor. “Our challenge in the classroom is not to get them ready for the next test, but rather to teach and train them to think and act Christianly in whatever context God places them.”

“When I moved to Hollywood, I was immediately bombarded with the thinking that all roads lead to heaven,” says Aimee Auclair, a 2006 theater graduate. “I was also told never to judge someone else’s thoughts about God because their views are very personal and ‘there is no right answer anyway.’ At that point, I was so thankful that the Bible minor at Cedarville helped to solidify my faith.”

Way Beyond Academics

If Cedarville was the kind of school that focused only on its academic programs, that would be impressive enough, but since we also believe that individual ministry involvement is a vital part of each student’s education and spiritual growth, it becomes evident that our grads are well-rounded in every aspect.

“We have a board of trustees that recognizes how easy it is for an academic institution to become cerebral,” says Robert Rohm, vice president for Christian ministries. “They know it’s equally important for students to put action to all they’re learning.”

Cedarville’s commitment to Christian ministries is further supported by the 16 full-time staff members who dedicate their time and talents to the music and drama traveling teams, missions involvement services, discipleship ministries and community ministries.

The results are that students return from ministry with changed lives. They come back with bigger hearts, greater direction and a more global view of outreach.

“Our touring teams — HeartSong, The Master’s Puppets and Lifeline Players — do not tour to entertain. We don’t do concerts,” Rohm says. “We’re about leading in and participating in worship at that church or camp. That’s the distinctive: to represent Jesus Christ and Cedarville University and to do so as true ministry, not some form of entertainment.”

In the Beginning, God …

Another distinctive is Cedarville’s decision to take a biblical approach to scientific research and study. One of the ways we do that is through the Center for Bioethics — a program guided by biblical theology, sound reason and a passion for life as it engages the complex bioethical questions of our day.

In addition, our scientists are quick to affirm the Genesis account of creation in all aspects of scientific research and study.

From the Inside Out

Cedarville clearly cares about every part of a student’s life, which is why we have such a significant focus on discipleship and missions. First of all, we consider our students’ personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In 2007, more than 85 percent of Cedarville students reported they were involved in a voluntary discipleship or Bible study group.

Secondly, we send them out. That same year, 675 Cedarville students participated on 68 community ministry teams, making a difference in local churches, social agencies, schools and more. Also, our missions involvement services sent 27 teams to 20 countries — nearly 300 students, faculty and staff were involved.

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If you’re considering Cedarville University for your higher education, you can know that this is a school that strives to meet your spiritual and intellectual needs.

Brown says, “Developing holiness, faithfulness, integrity and community are clearly biblical ideals that guide us in our programs.”