“Colleges at their best are visionary institutions,” suggests Doug Jacobsen, distinguished professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania. “They exist not merely to educate students, but to inspire them with a sense of hope and courage that will positively influence everything they do.”
Jacobsen goes on to identify this visionary ideal as a necessary aspect of any college that calls itself Christian. “If Christian colleges don’t have an inspiring message of hope to share with their students, they have failed in their mission. In fact, the compelling purpose of Christian higher education is to help students become agents of hope and courage in a world that often desperately fears the future.”
Recognizing the importance of such vision, Kim S. Phipps, president of Messiah College, adds that a “Christ-centered education enables students to look beyond the present moment—to live and serve beyond themselves by engaging in [intellectual pursuits and] work that will have a lasting impact on the Church and society.” For Phipps, what makes a Christian college unique is its commitment to preparing students “for lives focused on eternity.”
The intentional blending of intellectual, spiritual, and personal development not only helps students at Christian colleges and universities better understand their world, but also makes them more aware of how they are uniquely gifted to serve humanity in meaningful and tangible ways. By simultaneously nurturing the mind and soul while developing students’ intellectual and creative gifts, Christian colleges offer the kind of educational environment that encourages students to think and behave in ways that honor God and benefit society.
Students who receive an education at a Christian college or university are prepared to address the critical issues of the day with a greater sense of purpose, and are motivated to confidently move beyond the present moment.