July 2018 New Horizons

Higher Education and the Christian

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Grappling with the College Decision

From kindergarten to twelfth grade, year after year, there’s a numbered step that tells students what to do next. But after high-school graduation, they are suddenly faced with one of the biggest decisions of their lives: where do they go from here? College price tags, family expectations, and high-school experience all play large roles in what a Reformed student may decide. But more deeply, their perspective on the role of education will shape their decision. As four OP members look back on their varying post-high-school paths, they come to some similar conclusions. Education: Life’s Ongoing Instruction Paige Vanderwey, a member of Harvest OPC in Wyoming, Michigan, graduated high school in 2015 and took a non-traditional path. Although her parents were college graduates, they didn’t see college as the only route for their children. Instead, Vanderwey explains, they taught her and her siblings to value ongoing learning in whatever form it took in their lives. “My mom didn’t homeschool ... Read more

OP Ministry to College and University Students

The traditional college ministry in the United States tends to promote student leadership, have little emphasis on accountability, and keep students within the university circle. While such ministries can provide a great service, they are not the equivalent of a local church. Instead of establishing this type of college ministry, OP churches around the country are treating college ministry as a bridge to connect students who are living and working inside the academic bubble to the larger, soul-feeding church family. “I resist the idea that we have a college ministry,” explained Everett Henes, pastor of Hillsdale OPC in Hillsdale, Michigan, although 30 percent of the congregation are students at nearby Hillsdale College. In fact, the church was started in part by college students, and it will always have a college-student focus. Yet the students at Hillsdale OPC are not separated from the congregation for their fellowship or growth. Instead, Henes said, they are an integral part of the church ... Read more

A Case for Christian Higher Education

Back when Geneva professor and OP elder Dr. James Gidley was a student, student loans weren’t a thing. Had he walked into a bank and asked for one, he said, “they would have laughed me out of the lobby!” Nobody’s laughing today. The Pew Research Center reports that Americans “owed more than $1.3 trillion in student loans at the end of June [2017], more than two and a half times what they owed a decade earlier.” Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree owe a median of $25,000; postgraduate degree holders are at $43,000. As debt-averse Calvinists, these numbers probably make us itchy. They don’t sit well with Gidley, either. The cost of higher education has risen faster than inflation for years and contributes to what Gidley calls a vicious cycle: “As schools cost more, parents demand more of them, which then costs more money. The high expense, then, is driving the pragmatic view of school.” Students think that if they’re going to attend, it had better be worth their while in ... Read more


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