As Life Pacific continues to explore its future influence, a growing trend towards the concept of a biblical university may well describe who we are and what we do.
By: Rod Light
For generations, Christian educators have traditionally held to two primary approaches to Christian higher education. For some, the best approach has been preparing pastors for ministry in a biblical institute or Bible college. Others believe the best approach centers around less biblical education and more emphasis on liberal arts education that develops Christians to serve in various walks of life.
For nearly 20 years, Life Pacific College has considered what its future might look like while maintaining a solid commitment to its roots and mission. In the process of research and observation, a third viable option of Christian higher education has emerged known simply, yet profoundly, as a “biblical university.”
After prayerful consideration, the concept of a biblical university is finding favor at LPC and could well become a distinguishing and apt description of Christian higher education at Life Pacific.
LPC President Dr. Jim J. Adams points to examples of biblical universities like Cairn University, Columbia International University, and Multnomah University, as institutions that have responded to the needs of an ever-changing mission field while maintaining their fundamental connection to their institutional mission.
These universities provide a broader scope of educational offerings appealing to a greater number of students and advancing the future goals of the institutions. They do so while also preserving 1) their strong emphasis on Bible and theology; 2) their ministry and spiritual formation of students; and 3) their commitment to training only students who have made a profession of faith, according to LPC Academic Vice President Dr. Michael Salmeier.
Central to the Christian higher education discussion is a focus on the metaphor of the field and the harvest referenced by Jesus in the Gospels. “Even for our founder Aimee Semple McPherson, preparing workers for the harvest included more than training for vocational ministry,” Michael says. Sister McPherson viewed each student as a minister of the gospel in the place they worked, and that she taught them to take the gospel beyond the walls of the church directly to the harvest field.
“Life Pacific’s interest remains educating biblically-grounded, Spirit-empowered, and life-transformed people who will reach the whole world with the whole gospel,” Michael Salmeier says. He believes that a “Life Pacific University” would influence the education and equipping of ministers inclusive of age, ethnicity, gender, and vocation with the unique flavor of time-tested Pentecostal/Charismatic theology and practice as well as a firm commitment to the Foursquare distinctive of interdenominational, international, and intercultural evangelism.
Along with the traditional undergraduate degree program in biblical studies established at LPC in 1970, degree programs have been added focusing on transformational ministry (2010), human development and psychology (2014), business administration, worship arts and media (2015), and a new program in communication coming in 2017, pending accreditor approval.
In addition, a non-traditional degree completion program offering a bachelor degree in ministry and leadership was established in 2005. A graduate program in strategic leadership (2011) has helped lay the groundwork for additional graduate programs slated for launch over the next decade. Future projected programs include traditional bachelor degrees in intercultural studies, youth ministry and teacher preparation and degree completion programs in organizational management and psychology.
Sister McPherson hoped to see Christian ministers on the mission field, in the classroom, the boardroom, and honoring Christ in the arts. She knew, as we do today, that God calls people to a variety of careers and that when He does, He expects them to be ministers of the gospel where they work.
As Life Pacific College moves intentionally toward becoming a biblical university, expanded programs will offer men and women unparalleled Christian higher education emphasizing Bible and theology while also preparing them for effective Christian service in the Church, the marketplace, and the world.
By: Rod Light, M.A., an ordained Foursquare minister, LPC adjunct professor, and Communications Coordinator for Foursquare Missions International.