Wednesday, September 17, 2014

School prioritizes spiritual health

Liberty University has been just as committed to providing its students with opportunities for spiritual growth as it has been to providing students a quality education in a Christian environment. As the university has grown, it has maintained the spiritual foundations it was started with through traditions unique to Liberty such as convocation, student leadership, school-sponsored mission trips and special emphasis weeks each semester.

Student mentoring — Liberty University continues to emphasize Christian values in and out of the classroom. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

One of the many factors that has made Liberty’s commitment to a Christian environment possible is student leadership. When new students arrive at their residence halls, there are already leaders in place on each hall to help students — two resident assistants, two spiritual life directors and 10 prayer leaders.

“Student leadership is so vital because convocation, church and even the classrooms have a spiritual emphasis, but it’s very hard to get down to the individual students — student leadership allows the chance to connect and be personally discipled as someone loves them and mentors and mobilizes them,” Associate Director of Prayer Leaders and Discipleship Pastor Chris Deitsch said.

Hall meetings are held on each hall Tuesday nights to keep students up to date on campus announcements and events. After hall meetings, optional prayer groups are offered to give students a chance to fellowship, study the Bible and share prayer requests.

“It’s really unique, it separates us from other schools,” said senior Sarah Wells, who served as a prayer leader for three years. “We’re all given the opportunity to be ministered to and be discipled. Even though I was supposed to be ministering to the other girls (in prayer groups) it became a blessing to me and it was a humbling experience as well, watching how the Lord uses us in each others’ lives. I got to know other girls that I wouldn’t necessarily have gotten to know.”

Another way Liberty has stayed true to its mission is through only hiring faculty members who share the beliefs the university was founded on.

“The university has maintained the Christian worldview in the classroom because of the commitment to only hiring those who are authentically saved and committed to the biblical worldview,” Dean of Students Dr. Keith Anderson said. “The professors are challenged to continue to present their discipline of study in a Christocentric format. I believe in the intentionality of the administration and senior leadership to remain faithful to our spiritual foundations.”

Although the commitment has remained the same, several things have changed over the years to accommodate the growing student population’s needs and busier schedules.

Prayer groups used to be mandatory five nights a week, as were multiple hall meetings, Deitsch said, and church attendance was required. Although hall meetings and convocation are still mandatory, prayer groups and church attendance are now optional.

“We made it optional because we didn’t want to be legalistic,” Deitsch said. “We made it voluntary and that way students have a choice whether they want to go. I think one of the things Dr. Falwell was very much a stickler about was that convocation would happen three times a week and that we would never get rid of it. It was and is a time to bring the university together and to remind them of our common mission and our common goal.”

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