Campus pastor revamps popular Bible study on relationships
|Liberty University Campus Pastor Clayton King, a popular author and evangelist, speaks to a crowd of 8,500 during Liberty's Winterfest on Dec. 30, 2013.|
Since 2004, evangelist Clayton King has been a mainstay on the Liberty University campus, speaking during Spiritual Emphasis Week and serving as Campus Church pastor for the past three and a half years.
King, who began preaching at the age of 14 and has presented the Gospel to more than 3 million people in 35 countries and 45 states, is the founder and president of Crossroads Worldwide and the teaching pastor at NewSpring Church in Anderson, S.C.
He is a highly sought-after speaker for churches, camps, conferences, retreats, crusades, rallies, festivals — including this year’s Winterfest New Year’s celebration at Liberty — and other outreach events.
King has also written eight books, and he and his wife Sharie were recently given the opportunity to relaunch LifeWay’s True Love Waits series under a new banner titled “The True Love Project,” a video-based Bible study geared toward high school and college students. The material covers much of what King delivers regularly at Liberty — presentations on the topics of love, purity, and relationships, particularly marriage.
“In the nine years that I’ve been speaking at Liberty,” King said, “I’ve talked about, indirectly or directly, almost everything that I try to cover in the book. Now it’s concise and it’s organized in a very focused manner.”
True Love Waits was a movement promoting sexual purity that began as an outreach of the Southern Baptist Convention’s LifeWay Christian Resources in the mid-1990s. In the first three years after it began, it is estimated that more than 3 million teenagers made commitments to abstinence and sexual purity.
When King was 20, he spoke at one of the first True Love Waits events in Louisiana. In the audience was a teenager named Eric Geiger who, after hearing King speak, made a commitment to live a pure life. When Geiger, now the vice president of LifeWay, heard that the program was being updated in honor of its 20th anniversary, he immediately recommended King.
King said that the second phase of the True Love Waits movement, The True Love Project, puts a greater emphasis on forgiveness and grace for people who do not have a perfect past.
“What makes this unique to other books and programs on sexual purity is that this one takes a more holistic biblical approach to relationships. It’s more robust and theologically richer and deeper,” King said. “We begin from a much bigger perspective. Instead of immediately talking about sexual purity, we are talking about how what we do with our bodies matters because we are image-bearers of God.”
As a campus pastor, King said his goal when writing this book was to remove the awkwardness from conversations and sermons about relationships.
“I think a lot of students think that anytime someone talks about relationships they are shoving laws and rules down their throats,” King said. “My goal is to teach the current generation that everybody in every relationship matters because everything we do with our body is a witness to the world that we belong with Jesus.”
King said that as a campus pastor he has tried to bring the conversation on relationships to a “healthy middle ground.”
“I hope that students will see marriage and sexuality in a new light to where it’s not the ultimate issue in their life,” he said. “I hope they will see that Jesus Christ is the ultimate issue in their life, and that their relationship with Jesus will actually be what informs how they do relationships and how they practice sexual purity.”