I continue to be humbled and amazed by the variety and number of students who are being led to continue their education at Winebrenner. Winebrenner exists to equip leaders for service in God’s Kingdom and as we move into another year of record enrollment I have been asked to reflect on this continual growth for the Kingdom. Two words stand out to me: discipleship and referral.
I speak with hundreds of potential students on an annual basis and many are uncertain as to the “exact” path upon which God is leading them. However, all of them are certain that God is leading them somewhere. Lately, at Winebrenner, we have been discussing the importance of discipleship and it strikes me that our “discipling” of students begins before they are even enrolled in a class. This “discipling” is about listening and helping potential students to discover for themselves how God is leading. Each story is unique, and as potential students share their journey I find that though I am called to disciple them through the admission process; I am often discipled as well. Listening to the story of each person’s journey is a privilege and an honor. It offers unique perspectives into what prompts a student to consider seminary, whether theology or counseling. The majority of these potential students relay a relentless pursuit by God in their life. Oftentimes life itself has sidetracked them, but each of them reaches a point where that relentless pursuit can no longer be ignored.
Discipleship, however, begins well before their first conversation with admissions. It begins with relationships that have been built along their journey. These relationships lead to referrals. I am shocked at how often the larger community of Winebrenner intersects with potential students. Alumni, students, donors, staff, faculty, and other friends of Winebrenner become an additional touchpoint once the decision is made to pursue God’s leading. At Winebrenner, well over 60% of our incoming students come to us through a relationship within the Winebrenner family. Just recently I spoke with a potential student who told me: “Winebrenner has always been on my mind. My mentor is a graduate of Winebrenner, my friend is a current student. I know there are other seminaries available but having a relationship with those who have personal experience creates a comfort within me, and affirms where I believe God is leading”.
As Winebrenner continues in its mission of equipping leaders for service in God’s kingdom there is no doubt that the relationships leading to discipleship and referrals will be key to success. Each student of Winebrenner creates a ripple effect in the kingdom…
- Amy Kinney, Director of Enrollment Management