Whether in an office at Houghton College or a board room at Fillmore Wesleyan Church, Dr. Marcus Dean lives a life in service to the local church.

Dr. Marcus Dean’s life has been spent in two worlds that don’t always play nicely with one another – the academy and the church. A Houghton professor with leadership over the global studies programs, he’s passionate about seeing college students grow in their understanding of the world around them.

Before coming to Houghton, he served as a Global Partners missionary for 15 years in Columbia and Puerto Rico. While abroad, he worked hard to earn a PhD in Intercultural Studies through Trinity International University. It was around this time that he began to sense the need for a vocational change, so he packed up and moved to teach at Houghton College.

This transition to the academy, however, did not signal a departure from the church. Dean continues to invest his life in the local church, as an active member of Fillmore Wesleyan. He teaches a Sunday school class, preaches from time to time, heads the missions committee and serves on the church board.

When asked what he thinks the relationship could look like between academy and church at its best, Dean said he believes these two entities need to speak to one another.

He gave the example of his own church: Fillmore Wesleyan has taken the approach of asking how college students can give to the ministry of the church, rather than being only receivers of a “college ministry.”

Fillmore seeks to help students be ready to be involved in service to the greater, “capital C,” universal Church – whether that’s local or global ministry – by encouraging involvement now in their immediate context. Fillmore wants to prepare students to be leaders right now.

Dean also noted the academy needs to adopt a listening posture, because if the academy fails to listen to the Church, it will fail to be relevant in serving the Church in any helpful capacity. Dean posed the question, how can the academy serve if it has no idea what’s happening in the Church in the present day?

This desire extends beyond the Church, too.

“We desire to see alums making a difference for God in the lives of people who may not enter the church so that Christ can be seen in their lives,” added Dean.

 It’s not only the Church that benefits from this humble leadership; the world around us is impacted as well.

“The academy is valuable. The Church needs the academy to thrive and assist in raising up healthy, professional, trained pastors. But the academy must serve the Church,” emphasized Dean.

His life is a testament to the high value Houghton places on the local church. Following in the example of Christ, he shares the knowledge and truth he possesses to encourage students to rise up and be relevant leaders.

Dean is Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies and Missions at Houghton College; Associate Dean of the Area of Religion and Global Service and Chair of the Department of Biblical Studies, Theology and Philosophy; Chair of the Department of Intercultural Studies and Director of Off-Campus Studies.