Mission is what we do. Vision is what we will see, if our vision is successful.
At Bethlehem College & Seminary, our mission is simple: We teach students. That is, under the authority of God’s inerrant word, we exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ by equipping men and women to treasure Christ above all things, to grow in wisdom and knowledge over a lifetime, and to glorify God in every sphere of life.
If our mission is successful, what will we see? A movement of Christian Hedonists making a disproportionate Christ-exalting impact on the world. This is our vision.
Christian Hedonism is a new term for an old truth. We summarize it this way: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. It’s why we offer an Education in Serious Joy. If we’re successful, in the coming years we will see hundreds of graduates who seek to glorify God by pursuing their highest joy in him.
And what will these graduates be doing in order to make this Christ-exalting impact?
- They will be filling pulpits and pastoring churches with biblical clarity and Christ-exalting affection.
- They will be staffing ministries and enriching the academy with the God-besotted wisdom that our education in serious joy provides.
- They will be raising families and building households and gladly spending themselves so that the next generation will hope in God.
- They will be fulfilling callings in the market, creating value in their vocations, exerting godly influence in the public square, and anchoring communities with their maturity and joy.
- They will be taking risks and laying down their lives and carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth so that Christ is honored in the salvation of the nations.
This Christ-exalting impact will be disproportionate because we are a small school with a holy ambition. We are intentionally small because we believe that education is discipleship and there are some things you can only learn face-to-face, life-on-life. That’s why, in the age of Zoom and online education, we are exclusively in-person and residential. We aim for more than mere transfer of information; we aim for spiritual formation—cultivating habits of heart and mind through a world-class faculty and a community of learning in the context of the local church.
Our students will make this impact because of our unique financial model. We participate in no federal or state financial aid programs so that we are free to pursue our mission without governmental interference. Our financial model insulates us from many of the cultural pressures that other Christian colleges are already facing. We are free to teach the great books in light of the greatest book for the sake of the Great Commission and to live out our biblical convictions without the pressure that dependence on state money creates.
Instead of the student loan shell-game in which an exorbitant sticker price is tweaked and massaged by a complicated mix of discounts, grants, loans, and scholarships, our model is simple. Every residential student receives annually a $10,000 Serious Joy Scholarship that covers close to two-thirds of the cost of their education. As a result, they receive the highest quality education at an affordable price and are able to launch into life and marriage and adulthood and ministry without the burden of student loan debt. And without those shackles, they are able to begin to make that disproportionate Christ-exalting impact from day one.
We are “all in” on this mission and this vision. The board of trustees are all in. The administration is all in. The faculty and staff are all in.
But the simple fact is that we cannot accomplish our mission nor see this vision come to fruition without your help. We feel the truth of Psalm 127 acutely: Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it. Unless the Lord stirs up the hearts of his people to give to this great work, it will not happen.
And so, at the end of 2021, we are asking him to stir up his people, and we are asking you to give.
The question is simple: Do you resonate with this vision? Like us, do you long to see a movement of seriously joyful, God-entranced men and women make a disproportionate Christ-exalting impact on the world?
If so, would you consider a contribution to The Serious Joy Scholarship?
Every year we must raise $2.5 million dollars to fund 250 scholarships. Compared to other colleges, our needs are modest; our financial practices are streamlined and purposeful, without bureaucratic bloat and wasteful expense. But for us, the need is always considerable.
And so we ask that you would make Bethlehem College & Seminary and The Serious Joy Scholarship a part of your personal ministry for Christ.
Clinging to Jesus with you,
Joe Rigney, PhD