Panel discusses centrality of student church involvement

“Are you vital to the church?” was the question panelists discussed during the student discipleship seminar on Monday, April 10. Bob Jones University student leaders gathered in Stratton Hall to learn about Christ’s perspective on the church and the crucial role they (even as students) should play in the church.  

The meeting began with a brief exposition on the New Testament theology of the church by Alan Benson, vice president for student development and ministry advancement, where he explained Generation Z’s lack of commitment to the body of Christ compared to Christ’s emphasis on the church as the pillar of the Christian life. 

First, Benson emphasized Jesus’ prophetic announcement of the church in Matthew 16, where “he declared that He would build His church and authorize it to carry out His work in the world,” Benson said. He also said that the Great Commission does not focus on individual, independent practice but on building a community, the church. 

In his second point, Benson expanded on the doctrine of maturity of the church — how the body of Christ should grow in truth as recorded in the epistles. “The epistles are not merely letters written to groups of people. They are the teachings of Christ, given to His church to establish faith for teaching truth and correcting error,” Benson said.  

After the introduction, the panelists gave specific answers to questions regarding young people’s role in the church and practical ways to get involved. The speakers were Ben Gordon, pastor of Hope Baptist Church in Greenville; Stephen Wetterlund, associate pastor at Suber Road Baptist Church in Greer; Jerid Jones, assistant pastor at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville; and Chris Lynch, assistant pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greenville. 

The pastors began by emphasizing that the Christian’s involvement in the church is crucial, as it is a command from God. Similarly, it is a way of demonstrating love for the institution God loves and becoming equipped to fulfill God’s calling.  

The pastors also advised student leaders to be faithful to the ministries they commit to, not to underestimate private service but be willing to serve even through a small conversation. Furthermore, they encouraged the audience to invest their time to meet the church’s needs amid the diversity inside the body of Christ.  

The panelists affirmed that students could and should be intentional in getting involved in the church despite their busy schedules. For example, they can connect with members at the church by arriving earlier or leaving later and attending prayer events to fellowship with other believers.  

To finalize the meeting, Pastor Lynch affirmed that the perfect church does not exist. However, since Jesus promised in Matthew 16:18 that his church will prevail, Lynch urged the students to remain faithful to it, saying, “People will fail, but the church will not fail.”