Joel Lawrence Joel Lawrence

Making the Links

Seminary Professor Joel Lawrence has a sure-fire way for getting to know new students: golf.


"When I do my personal intro, I mention that I golf—and one or two students will inevitably raise their hands and say they golf too," says Professor of Divinity Joel Lawrence. "It's a great way to hang out and connect with students outside the classroom. It makes me behave on the course, too!"

Students and faculty spending time together on the golf course is just one example of Bethel Seminary professors living out their commitment to making new seminarians feel supported and connected.

"We've set up an environment where each student has at least one faculty member reaching out and connecting to them on a one-on-one level," Prof. Lawrence says. "It's a tremendous thing for beginning students."

Growing up the son of a seminary professor, Prof. Lawrence was attracted to the ministry but swore he wouldn't follow in his father's footsteps. He eventually felt the call to teach, though, and recalled something his father told him. "Your primary goal is to be a pastor to your students. They will value what you teach, but the support and counsel you give them is just as important."

The "whole person" philosophy embodied in Bethel Seminary's three centers approach to seminary education appealed to Prof. Lawrence—focusing on biblical study, spiritual growth, and leadership development. He likes that it puts an emphasis on "creating people who are whole and holy."

"Bethel really gets that to put people out in ministry, you have to make sure they are healthy on a holistic level," he says. "Many leave seminary with a mind full of facts but not the necessary understanding of how to be a leader. They get that at Bethel."

"Balance is something we try to work on; it can't just be seminary all the time," he adds. Which is why you'll find him on the green when the weather is good, keeping in line with the help of his students.