We Wait for God to Move


We write in the hope that you might continue, or even increase, your financial support of The Serious Joy Scholarship, the contributor-supported financial instrument at Bethlehem College and Seminary that permits our students to receive a Bible-saturated, and academically rigorous “Education in Serious Joy.” They are then able to graduate and launch immediately into adulthood, ministry, vocation, family formation, and citizenship without a burden of federal student loan debt.

Let’s face it, student loan debt is a problem. An estimated 44 million Americans owe $1.4 trillion of student loan debt. At the individual student scale, that amount requires 21 years on average to retire. Can you believe that 2.4 million Americans 62 years of age or older still carry an average of $40,750 in student loan debt! While the student loan debt program has been a blessing to many, it’s a burden to most; an encumbrance on vocational options, family formation, and—most importantly—gospel ambition.

What’s more, decades of easy access to such “ready cash” has negatively affected the average amount of college savings laid away by parents. So, if we’re to offer government-debt-free higher education we need to make tuition unusually affordable at a price that permits students to do it with maybe a bit of help from their parents and the income from a part-time job. We’ve determined that amount to be about $7,500 a year.

To offer quality Christian higher education at such a price requires four things: God’s grace, a world-class faculty, extreme administrative frugality, and the generosity of the saints of the church. By God’s grace, thus far, all of these lines have fallen to us in pleasant places.

We appeal to you at calendar year’s end amid a certain embarrassment of riches. Earlier this year, generous contributors like you responded enthusiastically to an “On The Double” matching gift appeal that provided a harvest of $500,000.00 in Christian joy-overflowing. Indeed, many of our generous contributors did their “year-end” giving at mid-year in 2023.

And such is our dilemma. That was for the school year ended June 30, 2023. Serious Joy Scholarships for the year now underway remain largely unfunded. Without an outpouring at this season, or early in 2024, we’ll be under some considerable financial pressure. But we are apprehending God’s future grace, confident in his promises, and fully expectant that we shall once again be given reason to point to the manifestation of his glory in the flourishing of Bethlehem College and Seminary.

So, if you have already made a gift to The Serious Joy Scholarship in 2023, please pray whether you may be called to make another before the December 31, 2023 deadline for tax deductibility qualification, or plan to make an early gift in 2024—before June 30—such that all of this school year’s scholarships may be fully funded.

The Serious Joy Scholarship is your personal ministry for Jesus Christ, and we are so glad to report that it remains fruitful for the Gospel and more than worthy of your continued prayers and patronage.

Pulpits are being supplied. Ministries are being staffed. Marketplaces are being seasoned. Families and churches are being led. And the theological academy is being calibrated. All these by graduates of Bethlehem College and Seminary who are out there spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ—students who learned here and are now sharing with others that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

We are therefore as eager that you might send us a prospective seminary or college student as we are another financial gift. We are, all of us, seemingly more of a remnant in our current cultural context; a peculiar people. There’s hardly anything at all about our school’s proposition in substance, style, form, location, or mission that resonates as “pop.” We supply virtually nothing to satisfy mainstream generic demand for higher education. We’re academically demanding, most schools are not. We’re spartan and frills-free, most are loaded and tricked out. We are however unequivocally committed to exalting Jesus Christ as life’s greatest treasure, God’s holy word as life’s most reliable lamp, and the hope of the nations—here and abroad—as life’s greatest cause.

Our next cohort of college and seminary students are at present likely sitting right near you, with their families, in your neighborhood, under a faithful, Bible-teaching pastor. They will come here because they are peculiar—like you—like us. And what you can tell them is that here they can live the education experience in a small, churches-based setting, in close relationship with just a few professors and fellow students, and at one of the lowest tuition rates in American Christian higher education—only about $7,500 per year.

It’s those of you who know us best and love us most who both fill the seats with students and the coffers with sufficient financial resources to undertake this good work. Please send us the student referrals and continue to support The Serious Joy Scholarship.

We are keenly aware that the generosity that has flowed to Bethlehem College and Seminary since its inception has been an overflow of love for Jesus Christ. We also know that it has flowed in the hope that another generation of pulpit preachers might emerge to influence future generations in the ways that Pastor John Piper profoundly influenced us: Big God sovereignty theology, the God-centeredness of God in himself and joy-centeredness of humankind in God, careful exegetical handling of God’s word, inclination to global missions, and an ability to suffer worshipfully amid life’s many vicissitudes—Christian Hedonism.

This has been Job #1 at Bethlehem College and Seminary, the task of equipping men to treasure our sovereign God and sacred book for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. It’s worth pausing here to look what God has done in, with, and through your support of The Serious Joy Scholarship. Here’s what we think is a reasonably comprehensive list of churches now pastored by graduates of Bethlehem Seminary, just since 2009.


All People’s Church,
Minneapolis, MN

Bethlehem Baptist Church,
Minneapolis, MN

Brownsville Baptist Church,
Brownsville, TN

Calvary Bible Church,
Mount Pleasant, TX

Celebration Community Church,
Orlando, FL

Cities Church,
St. Paul, MN

Christ Redeemer Church,
Woodbury, MN

Chapelwood Baptist Church,
Indianapolis, IN

Christ Community Church,
Zion, IL

Clifton Baptist Church,
Louisville, KY

Cornerstone Church of Knoxville,
Knoxville, TN

Crossroads Fellowship,
Augusta, GA

Desiring God Community Church,
Charlotte, NC

ECHO Church,
Chino, CA

Église Baptiste Bethléem,
Yaoundé, Cameroon

Ekklesia Church,
Eau Claire, WI

Emmaus Church,
White Bear Lake, MN

Emmaus Road Reformed,
Minnetonka, MN

Fellowship Bible Church,
Pierz, MN

Faith Baptist Fellowship,
Sioux Falls, SD

First Baptist Church,
Medford, WI

First Evangelical Church,
Maplewood, MN

Friendship Church,
Prior Lake, MN

Fort William Baptist Church,
Thunder Bay, ON

Good News Church of Eagan,
Eagan, MN

Gospelife Church,
Carol Stream, IL

Gospel Joy Church,
Mankato, MN

Grace Baptist Church,
Waverly, IA

Grace Church,

Eden Prairie, MN

Grace Church Three Rivers,
Pittsburgh, PA

Grace United Reformed Church,
Alto, MI

Gracia Sobre Gracia,
Weston, FL

Heartland Community Church,
Akeny, IA

High Pointe Baptist Church,
Austin, TX

Jubilee Community Church,
Minneapolis, MN

Living Hope Evangelical Free Church,
Willmar, MN

Living Stone Church,
Chelan, WA

Meadow Creek Church,
Andover, MN

New Creation Church,
Granville, NY

Newspring Church,
Clemson, SC

North Center Baptist Church,
Brooklyn Park, MN

Northfield Community Church,
Northfield, MN

Northridge Fellowship,
Rogers, MN

Northside Neighborhood Church,
Minneapolis, MN

Northwest Bible Church,
St. Michael, MN

Oak Hills Presbyterian Church
Shawnee, KS

Olympic EV Free Church,
Poulsbo, WA

Pepperell Christian Fellowship,
Pepperell, MA

Redemption City Church,
Rochester, MN

River of Grace Church,
Henniker, NH

Sellwood Baptist Church,
Portland, OR

Sojourners Church,
Albert Lea, MN

South Cities Church,
Lakeville, MN

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church,
Gibbon, MN

Table Rock Church,
Boise, ID

The Heights Church,
East Saint Paul, MN

The North Church,
Mounds View, MN

Trade River Evangelical Free Church,
Grantsburg, WI

Treasuring Christ Church,
Raleigh, NC

Twin Cities Bible Church,
Maplewood, MN

The Vine Church,
Minneapolis, MN

Westview Church,
Crystal, MN

Woodbury Baptist Church,
Woodbury, MN


We can also report that admissions at Bethlehem College are at present trending toward record levels, after a post-COVID reset. We are well ahead of plan at this writing with a historically high enrollment within reach. We hope you will take time to read the forthcoming edition of our Serious Joy Newsletter, especially the section about the extraordinary vocational preparation our college students are receiving in a program with no vocation-specific classes.

The world-class faculty remains dedicated and in place. Our curriculum is well-developed. We have sufficient facilities available—the unadorned simplicity of unused Sunday School rooms during the week.

All that remains is supply. The financial model, as you know, provides that two-thirds of student tuition comes from charitable givingThe Serious Joy Scholarship. We don’t get any money from the state or federal governments. We don’t receive any money from the denomination. Frankly, we haven’t had much luck with private or corporate foundations. (We’re either regarded as too small or too counter-cultural.)

Supply in our case comes from God through the saints. Individual men and women, disciples like you, who love Jesus, who want to bless as you’ve been blessed, to cause others to receive what you have received. That’s why you keep giving. That’s why you keep recommending us. Oh, how we want to encourage you!

We are doing good, together. Let us not grow weary in doing good. Again, consider making another gift to The Serious Joy Scholarship in 2023, or early in 2024, such that this work may sail on into the headwinds of this trying culture.

His servant and yours,

Rick Segal
Vice President of Advancement & Lecturer of History and Political Philosophy


Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray for the full funding of this year’s Serious Joy Scholarships.
  2. Pray for our students and faculty as they head toward finals and winter break.
  3. Pray for Tom Steller as he continues to heal and make lifestyle changes post-surgery.
  4. Pray that the Lord would prepare the hearts of those teaching at and attending Serious Joy: The Bethlehem Conference for Pastors.