These Extraordinary Millennials

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In the early 1990’s, I was serving as a marketing consultant to a large architectural firm that was principally engaged in the design of public school buildings. The firm asked a public policy expert, Bill Strauss, to meet with us to share his intriguing new views about the then-emerging cohort of elementary students who were born after 1982. Strauss even coined a name for them: Millennials.

He suggested that this generation of Americans, the Millennials, in terms of their inclinations and impact, will more closely resemble the so-called “Greatest Generation,” that survived The Great Depression, won the Second World War, and defeated Soviet communism, than either the generations of their parents and grandparents.

The Millennials, he said, would be:

Purpose-drivenCourageousConfidentOptimistic
Civic-mindedGenerousInitiatorsPassionate

As time went on, I began to meet some of them as they lived and played among my own Millennial sons, and later, as they started to come to work for me as twenty-somethings, at the global company I led until 2014. I was astonished at just how prescient Strauss’ work on the Millennial generation proved to be. Ultimately, our company even had to modify its recruiting program in order to demonstrate that we could accommodate these young people’s insistence on opportunity equal to their “passion.”

For some, their passion was the environment and a sustainable workplace and lifestyle. For others it was fair trade, fitness and nutrition, ending human trafficking, refugee relief, or a host of other causes, social or personal.

Then I was blessed to meet the students of Bethlehem College & Seminary, whose passion is the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. I do not engage in hyperbole when I say, this cohort of Millennials may be among those who may have the greatest generational impact of all as agents of the Greatest Cause of All, indeed, the ultimate and only real salvation of the world through Jesus.

Since God called me out of my business and into his service here, I have been witness to an amazing conjunction of generations as parents and grandparents, like Adrien and I, have made the resources of the two most financially wealthy generations in American history available to the gospel ambition of the young men and women of Bethlehem. Pulpits are being filled. Ministries are being staffed. Nations are being reached. A new generation of theological scholars is being raised up to defend sound doctrine and the faith once given to the saints.

I cannot fully convey how exhilarating it is to be among these joyful students. We too readily—and I might add, too sinfully—look at the news of our time and fret that these young people have so much going against them: culture in free-fall, religious liberty under attack, terrorism on the rise, economic prospects dimming. But they look at the news and their world and see God in his glory, fields white for harvest, and opportunities for spreading their passions for as long as they have breath.

Bethlehem College & Seminary is an innovation in Christian higher education, designed to help them flourish in these trying times.

  • We are intentionally small in order to be able to deliver an academically rigorous, individually focused, highly relational approach to the students’ education and spiritual formation.
  • We operate in a lean, no-frills way, such that tuition may be unusually affordable.
  • We are untethered from federal and state funding programs such that we may remain faithful to biblical principles as they otherwise continue to be depreciated by public lawmakers.
  • We conduct our educational programming in the sanctuary of a local church, where we pray we may long enjoy the freedom to do so, as granted us by the U.S. Constitution.

Our hope, however, is not in our school’s design, but in its Designer. What we hope we are doing here in the most careful, diligent, prayer-enveloped way is keeping before these students the big and glorious God who was the object of the passion that brought them here in the first place. Their passion is for God. The stewardship we have been given is that of moving the fruit of our labor, careers, and indeed our life savings to the benefit of this generation ready to undertake gospel ambition in dimensions of which we never dreamed, in the face of opposition with which we were never threatened. We have been given an extraordinary opportunity to invest in a very unique cohort of Millennials.

As a church-based institution of higher education, our students receive their “Education in Serious Joy” in the context of the life of a local church. As the enclosed copy of a recent Resolution of the Board of Trustees memorializes, Bethlehem College & Seminary and Bethlehem Baptist Church now share common strategic objectives of planting 25 new churches nationally and also of sending missionaries to 25 unengaged people groups around the world—i.e., people living in places where, as far as is known to researchers at present, there are no full-time Christian workers attempting to do evangelism and church planting—all, by God’s grace, before the year 2025.

We suspect that there are students studying at Bethlehem College & Seminary, right now, who are sensing the call to go to these unengaged peoples. These will be dark places, where the light of the gospel has never been shown, dangerous places from which they may not return. We offer this thought only that you might sense the intensity of these exceptional students’ passion for God and their hope for the lost.

Every resident student of Bethlehem College & Seminary receives a Serious Joy Scholarship of $10,000, annually. That’s 250 students at $10,000 each, or $2.5 million a year, each and every year. There is no large endowment that satisfies this need, only God himself stirring generosity in the hearts of individual men and women. He has faithfully supplied our needs since our inception in 2009, and we trust in Him completely to do so this school year.

So, will you pray to discern whether you might either be or point us to:

  • The few to underwrite an entire school year’s worth of these scholarships. We dare to suggest such extravagance only because we have seen God move a few people to do just that.
  • Someone who will fund multiple scholarships entirely for several students, or for a single student for four years.
  • A contributor willing to supply $10,000 to provide a Serious Joy Scholarship to a student for this school year.
  • The “Semester Supporter” who contributes $5,000 annually.
  • A generous giver who will fund fractions of individual scholarships with gifts large or small.

In God’s economy, $2.5 million annually is smaller than a needle tip’s worth of water removed from a drop once in a bucket, and we stand at the beginning of each new school year asking, “Whom will he send?” We pray that he will move you to make one or more of these godly students an expression of your own love for Jesus, and a work of your personal ministry for the gospel.

Very truly yours,

Rick Segal
Vice President of Advancement
Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce & Vocation

 

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