By Abigail Gan | Reporter
Baylor’s Ministry Guidance Program is helping shepherd the next generation of ministers, one student and call to service at a time.
“Primary emphases of the Ministry Guidance Program are academic studies that are related to the practice of ministry, hands-on experience in local settings, and fellowship with other individuals who are preparing for vocational Christian service,” the religion department’s website reads. “Each of these focal points allows students varied opportunities to explore personal interests and relationships in an effort to better understand God’s calling.”
Dr. Dennis Horton, director of ministry guidance, said the program has a threefold approach. It recruits students to come to Baylor, guides them through courses and the internship program and helps them establish post-graduate plans.
“We see that as really the central component of our ministry guidance: equipping, helping the students in call clarification,” Horton said.
Horton said call clarification is especially pertinent because students often come to Baylor at a young age.
“We’ve been a little bit hesitant if a student comes in and says, ‘Well, I’m going to be doing this and this and this,’ when they’re 17,” Horton said. “Well, let’s be a little bit open to what God is calling you to do. … That call in general gets clarified, especially as students are working maybe over the summer, but also in class and during the internship.”
A key part of the program is REL 2480 — a course entitled “Introduction to Ministry” that includes an internship supervised by an area minister.
McKinney junior Charis Ardila is currently taking the course and is doing her internship with the WiN program at Highland Baptist Church. According to the church’s website, WiN is “a recreational mentoring and tutoring program designed to share wisdom and instruction from the Lord throughout the school year.”
Ardila said WiN does various tasks, such as picking kids up from Dean Highland Elementary School every day, leading Bible classes and teaching nutrition.
“A lot of these things are very advanced,” Ardila said. “I think sometimes we baby down things for these kids, but they forget how observant kids are and how smart they are. It’s been really sweet to get to see what these kids are retaining, whether it be about nutrition or the Bible.”
Ardila said consistency in behavior is incredibly important.
“Your actions and your deeds with these kids are going to be much more important than just saying the name of Jesus, because they’re watching what your witness looks like,” Ardila said. “If I say I’m a Christian and my behavior doesn’t reflect that, then that’s going to hurt them.”
Ardila said she has also learned to trust the process and God, understanding that true faith and development take time.
“I think sometimes we live in a society where we want instant gratification, instant results from what we’re doing, and that’s when it doesn’t happen,” Ardila said. “We think we’re doing something wrong or we’re failing in some way or that we need to find a new effective way to communicate the gospel. … Sometimes you have to realize that the Lord is completely sovereign and the gospel is going to be shown, with us as vessels.”
Las Vegas sophomore Aaron Freidlander is also taking REL 2480 and is doing his internship with Pastor Drake Osborn at Grace Church. Friedlander said it has been cool to shadow him and see the daily life of a minister.
“This past Monday, I actually delivered a mini sermon — one of my two that I’m doing for my internship,” Friedlander said.
Horton said the students who come into his course experience genuine growth throughout their journey.
“Every semester … whatever area it is, they grow in confidence, and they realize, ‘Oh, I can do this. God has gifted me, and this is what I love doing,’” Horton said. “That initial call — it’s like, you’ve got these little flames, but it just grows when they’re doing the internship.”
Horton said many former students of the ministry guidance program are in the Waco area leading programs as missionaries or pastors in local churches. He said it is inspirational to see how God uses those who have gone through the program.
“To see where you go once you graduate — there’s not a better thing in the world,” Horton said. “It inspires us to just keep doing what we’re doing, because we know that God is taking whatever little bits that we’re able to contribute and taking that and blessing it and just seeing it at work in your lives.”