“If you want to know God, organize your day around connecting with God.“ –Dr. Michael Jordan, Houghton‘s Dean of the Chapel
Houghton College was founded in 1883. After over 132 years, they still offer an “Academically Challenging, Christ-centered Education.” But what makes Houghton’s education distinctly Christ-centered? Dr. Michael Jordan—Houghton’s Dean of the Chapel—sees discipleship as a main factor. Here are three core ways Houghton is making disciples:
1. Small Classes, Big Mentoring:
“There’s a radical disconnect between this generation and the previous generation of Christians. At Houghton, we’re intentional about breaking that down. The beautiful thing about being a smaller campus is that it gives students a chance to see the generation before as real people, not just people who design programs,” said Dr. Jordan.
At Houghton, students are more than numbers and professors are more than educators; they’re fellow image-bearers on a journey toward Christlikeness. As such, professors and students can dialogue about issues of faith, vocation, and personal life. Houghton’s intentionality in mentoring—coupled with their 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio—facilitates a discipleship process that weaves together personal, intellectual, and spiritual development. “We really get a lot of face time with students; they have partners in this journey,” said Dean Jordan.
2. Daily Rigor, Faithful Rhythms:
Routine shapes character. “If you want to know God, organize your day around connecting with God. At Houghton, we try to build a rhythm to the day that’s refreshing and fruitful,” said Dr. Jordan. For most students, college is exhausting; but it doesn’t have to be. At Houghton, routine is reinforced by Christian rhythms.
Whole-campus chapel services help students intersect faith and academics. Each morning and evening, prayer services welcome smaller groups to gather in worshipful community. Because Houghton’s education is wrapped in spiritual formation, everyday rhythms become vehicles for God’s presence. Thoughtful scheduling helps Houghton deliver transformational education.
3. Real Initiatives, Real Student Leaders:
At Houghton, students have an active role in spiritual formation. In addition to student participation in chapel, Houghton is home to many student-led devotionals, missionary groups (like Global Christian Fellowship) and services. In addition, students lead Houghton’s “Mercy Seat,” a worship service that happens every weeknight at 8 PM. Houghton recently revitalized a student-leadership initiative: the Deacons Program. Under the Dean of the Chapel’s office, Deacons get a chance to invest in Houghton’s spiritual health.
Deacons don’t only serve on stage; they cultivate spiritual community in different realms, too. “At times, I think it’s easy for outgoing students to rise into leadership positions… but when onlyextroverts rise to leadership, we miss out part of the richness of the Body of Christ. So this year, we really transformed the program into a personal mentoring and discipleship program. Deacons have the chance to do something highly visible—like a devotional or Bible study—or something quieter—like writing for the Houghton Star—as part of their job. As a result, we can engage students who wouldn’t normally gravitate towards stage-driven spiritual leadership,” said Dr. Jordan.
Leadership, mentoring, and faithful rhythms ensure that Houghton students get a spiritually formative college experience. But the real value of a Houghton degree extends beyond the four-year experience: “It’s really exciting to see what kind of work our graduates are doing in the world. The more I invest in Houghton, the more I see this place’s contribution to the Kingdom.”
*Photo Credit: Gabrielle Engle
Ethan Linder is a staff writer for Education and Clergy Development. Hailing from Seaford, Delaware, Ethan and his wife Sarah currently live in Marion, Indiana–where Ethan is pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Christian Ministries from IWU and Sarah is a teacher. When he’s not writing, Ethan enjoys reading, listening to music, studying cultures, running, and following the Philadelphia Phillies.