Q&A with Associate Campus Pastor Caitlyn Stenerson '14, S'19

As associate campus pastor for worship experiences, Caitlyn Stenerson '14, S'19 guides students through their journey in faith and personal growth while fostering connections between everyday life and God’s global call. She’s passionate about “helping all people see their work as sacred.”

By Macey Heath, social media content specialist

July 11, 2023 | 8 a.m.

Caitlyn Stenerson '14, S'19

Caitlyn Stenerson '14, S'19

In this Q&A, Associate Campus Pastor Caitlyn Stenerson '14, S'19 shares more about how her background in political communications and divinity has shaped her passion for mentoring students in their faith journey and implementing innovative Chapel services that focus on recognizing Christ in vocational fields. 

You worked in political communications and public affairs prior to your current job. How did your educational background contribute to your current role as a pastor at Bethel?

I have an undergraduate degree in political science from Bethel. I was a transfer, and in my first semester here, I briefly thought about changing to a youth ministry major because I always knew that I was called to vocational ministry. But, my advisor talked me out of it (sensible, because I only had a year of classes left to graduate). My career in political communications and public affairs developed a deep desire in me to take big ideas and make them understandable. That desire has continued to be a hallmark of how I view preaching and theological teaching in the church. 

How has your Master of Divinity degree influenced your approach to ministry and your interactions with students?

I am a big fan of the Master of Divinity (and a big fan of Bethel's program, of which I'm a product). My M.Div. was my four favorite years of my life, not only because of what I learned, but because of who God formed me into—in and out of the classroom. Because of my M.Div., I'm passionate about taking important theological concepts like salvation and redemption, sanctification, holiness, God's Kingdom, etc. and making them understandable to our students. We are people of the Book—Scripture stands at the center of who are are and how we understand God—and I love that my M.Div. gave me a solid Biblical foundation to take into ministry.

Stenerson '14, S'19 at Baptism Event

Stenerson '14, S'19 at Baptism Event

What are the ways you mentor young people and help them connect their work to God's global call? What common issues do students usually come to you with and how do you help resolve them?

One of my passions is to help people see their everyday work as ministry. I believe in breaking down the sacred/secular divide and helping all people see their work as sacred—as a reflection of God’s Kingdom calling in the world and in light His Great Commission to “go and make disciples.”

"My prayer is that our students wouldn't see their faith and work divided, but would see the call of God in their studies and their work."

— Caitlyn Stenerson

Students come and talk to Pastor Matt and I with a variety of things that they’re processing: relationships, faith questions or doubts, navigating change, roommate questions, majors and future careers, navigating adulthood, etc. For some of these questions, there aren't easy answers. I seek to take students into Scripture to help them process their questions in light of what God has taught. 

Can you describe any innovative and Christ-centered aspects of the ministry that you are responsible for at Bethel?

One of the most exciting innovations we brought to Chapel this past year was departmental Chapels. We invited our departments to plan a Christ-centered Chapel service once in the fall and once in the spring that highlighted voices in their department and field, brought their students together, meditated on Scripture, and formed students to see Christ in their field. It was wonderful to walk around campus on those days and see what was happening: the English and journalism department breaking bread together, the art department talking about Scripture as they were led in an art therapy project, the nursing department hosting a panel to reflect on God's call of Moses as it relates to their own profession, and more. We're continually looking for ways to serve all students of different denominational backgrounds and worship service preferences. My hope is that students would find home in Bethel's Chapel experiences and be challenged to continue to grow in their relationship with God and His Church. 

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

I'm a pastor because I love incarnational ministry—I love being with God's people on good days and bad days, in stress and in calm. Walking with students to help them process their life and faith in meaningful, Christ-centered, scriptural ways is why I do what I do. It's a joy to get to do that at my alma mater! The most satisfactory part of my job is seeing students be transformed. When a student starts to understand something about God, or how God has wired them, or His calling for their life, I feel grateful for the work of God in and through my own life. 

What special events or trips does the campus ministry participate in and what makes them enjoyable?  

One highlight this past year from my ministry area was our 24-hour worship and prayer service. It was so beautiful to see students come together during January session to lead a noon-noon worship and prayer room in The Underground. The 3 a.m.-4 a.m. slot was actually the most popular of the night, if you can believe it! Our campus came together to read Scripture, pray, worship, take communion, and glorify God. It was based on Psalm 132:4-5: "I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” Another highlight was our baptism service, where students publicly proclaimed the renunciation of their past selves and commitment to Jesus through God's saving grace. 

What do you want parents to know about how their students will experience faith at Bethel? 

My hope is that your students would spend these four years building rhythms of prayer, worship, teaching, and life together in a vulnerable, confessional community and that those rhythms would go with them into their next stage of life as they desire to follow King Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. 

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