God’s people have never had the luxury of settling in and staying put. We are people on the move, spurred on by the Spirit to address each day creatively, and—by God’s grace—faithfully. Sometimes the pace of change is almost overwhelming. But it isn’t new. In Genesis 12 alone, Abraham was on the move, from Harran, to the land of Canaan, to the “hills east of Bethel” where he built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. But he didn’t stop there; verse nine says starkly: “Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.” He doesn’t rest with his altar, though. A famine drives him to Egypt. This is only the beginning of God’s amazing story with the saints. They gather around a tabernacle, build a temple, lose a temple and go into captivity, return to the land and build another temple, and disperse from Jerusalem to embark on missions to the east and west.
Even in my short time as president of Trinity, I can tell that this is a college on the move, in that long tradition of God’s people. For the last decade, my predecessor and faithful counselors to the college led us through two moves. One was from Issaquah to Everett, of course. But the other move was from the model of a Bible institute to a unique four year, accredited college. I occasionally hear from people worried that we are slipping from our identity as a Bible school. This causes me to wonder whether we’ve communicated clearly enough over the last several years. Trinity has the Bible at its center, but it is not a Bible school in either form or function. Nonetheless, it is not just another church related college. Our size and unique history allow us to be a rather unique kind of Christian college.
In our strategic planning process, we have developed a working identity statement to help us stay clear as we support our continuing mission. It’s unofficial, but perhaps helpful as a way to understand how the staff and faculty see ourselves here at Trinity, day to day:
Trinity Lutheran College is a biblically-centered, four year, accredited college, where students engage rigorous academic study, seek ways to serve the world around them, and wrestle creatively with tough questions, in a way that is faithful, intellectual, and engaged. At our foundation is a living-learning community model that integrates faith, academics, and service into every aspect of a student’s formation.
If you are a longtime friend of LBI/Trinity, do you recognize this? It may represent startling new territory. But I’m not asking if you recognize the exact landscape. I’m asking whether you recognize the call to be biblical in a changing world that needs biblically-trained leaders. I hope you do, because I am convinced that this is precisely what our world (and our churches) need right now.
Allow me to share just a few examples of ways in which some of the new things we are doing are making a difference in people’s lives along faithful, old lines.
· A Discovery Program student has encountered the role of prayer in his life, despite coming from a nominal Lutheran background in Norway.
· New soccer players discovered the joy of service this Thanksgiving, as they collected and distributed Thanksgiving essentials to 20 single mothers in Everett.
· A student attracted to our new Communication program who had previously fallen into a life of drug use, but at Trinity, encountered God’s call on his life and is now attending and ELCA seminary.
· Another student, after discovering academic abilities in the context of the Dean’s Circle, realized that an LCMS seminary was the place to which God was calling him. He is now getting ready for a life changing move.
· A student who came interested in ministry but also wanted a broad degree found, in the midst of her studies in our new Business Leadership & Management, that there is important ministry to be done in the general world of commerce, especially if a leader goes out equipped with biblical understanding and a moral compass.
Students’ lives are changing as they encounter Christ in our various new curricular and extracurricular programs. The key question for Jesus’ disciples isn’t “are you the same person you were back in the day?” But rather, “have you remained faithful to Jesus above all things as you’ve grown, travelled, and changed over the years?” As people on the move for God, we don’t boast in staying close to the altars we erect throughout our lives. Rather, we beg God to keep the Spirit illuminating Jesus, who is reason enough for us to get up out of our comfortable places and move!
May God bless you and us as we journey together, ceaselessly praying for faithfulness!