Words by D. Joseph Wolfe
This February, New Hope Christian College (NHCC) had its Spiritual Leadership Conference, a two day event held once every semester at the college. As part of its mission to develop students spiritually, the school cancels classes on these two days. The students then attend the conference during this time.
This year’s conference speaker was a 1993 graduate of the college and Senior Pastor of Faith Chapel in Billings, Montana, Pastor Nate Poetzl. He preached about personal spiritual growth and church leadership, with his sermons revolving mostly around Philippians and his personal experiences with leading churches as a senior pastor.
Pastor Nate also shared about his personal experience of never feeling good enough for God. He
explained that he used to not understand that grace means God “looks at us as saints.” He cited Philippians 1:1-7 and said we should always measure our identity by that which Christ has made us to be.
Later, Pastor Nate shared his concerns for the current and future generations, and how he has noticed a tendency of people to avoid pain and expect there to be no hard times. He shared out of Paul’s experience from Philippians, and how, even though there will be plenty of hard times in life, everything will be alright.
The annual Spiritual Leadership Conference at NHCC is a staple of the college’s mission to students. Moreover, there is willingness in the leadership of the college to set aside both school time and personal times of prayer for the students to have the opportunity to learn and grow as leaders. President of NHCC, Dr. Guy Higashi, said that an important part of a student’s education is spiritual formation and transformation. That means that, as a college, we believe that developing students as spiritual leaders and followers of Christ goes hand-in-hand with academics.
Dr. Higashi continues by saying that this is why as a school we pause for two days to do nothing else but invest in the lives of the students, faculty and staff. “It’s easy to say that Jesus is the center of our activities,” he said, and continued by explaining that if students leave the college with just an education and nothing more, they won’t be of any benefit to the kingdom of God. New Hope is dedicated to producing disciples who will win souls, and spiritual formation is as big a piece as Bible training.