It’s a conversation I’ve had many times:
High Schooler: I don’t know what I should do when I finish high school. Maybe I should go to trade school or university.
Me: Have you considered attending a year of Bible college?
High Schooler: I don’t feel “called to ministry.” Wouldn’t that be like a waste of a year and of money?
Me: No, and here’s why.
(Actually, you can switch out several components of the conversation above—a parent talking about their child, a student who actually does know what she wants to do, or a student trying to discern if maybe he is called to ministry. But even with some of these variables, I often still recommend one year of Bible college for the same reasons.)
It helps a young person set a life’s direction. Most 18–20 year olds haven’t settled on their life’s career yet. And very often, the ones who think they have often change their minds.
Taking one year after high school to attend Bible college puts them in a position where they are making themselves available for God to tap them for ministry. Bible college is an environment where students are surrounded by godly mentors, challenged with daily Bible preaching and teaching, and immersed in ministry opportunities. It all lends itself toward an awareness of the needs of the harvest while at the same time having a sensitive heart to God’s call.
But let’s say God doesn’t call a particular young person to ministry in that year of Bible college. (And God doesn’t call everyone to serve in a full-time ministry capacity.) Was that year a waste? No, because…
It helps a young person build a solid foundation. In just one year of Bible college, a young person attends about thirty-six credit hours of classes, many of them specifically in Bible. (At West Coast Baptist College, a few of these classes are also in general subjects which, in some cases, can be transferred to liberal arts schools.)
These classes cover doctrinal truths, principles of Bible study, learning how to defend the faith, and a biblical philosophy of ministry—giving students a rich and solid foundation for building their lives, families, and personal ministry in the local church, regardless of what secular field they may enter.
It helps a young person develop lasting friendships. Bible college is a great place to develop friendships of a lifetime. Regardless of where someone may go to serve or what secular field they may go into later, the time they have spent with other students in ministry, over textbooks, in class, on college activities, in prayer, or making memories all serve to build lasting relationships that become lifelong blessings.
Of course, there is also the possibility of dating and marriage. A person often meets the person they will marry within those first few years out of high school. What better place to meet someone than where there are hundreds of others with a heart for God and a commitment to live for Him?
I could add other reasons: Bible college is a great place to develop spiritual and personal disciplines. It can be an ideal place to grow in personal maturity and adult independence. It’s a wonderful time to experience personal fruitfulness while being mentored in the types of local church ministry a church leader or church member will engage in throughout their lives.
If you are a high school student, the parent of a high school student, or know a high school student seeking God’s will for their future, I would encourage you to consider the one year Bible program at West Coast Baptist College.