“I’m actually really grateful,” sophomore Patrick Figalan said, “to come to a university where [professors are] so accepting, and even like take the time to even preach to me really positively impacts me.”
Students, like Figalan, have taken notice of their professors using class time to speak words of encouragement and wisdom into their lives. In some cases this happens instead of the class content. One such professor is John Mark Robeck, Assistant Professor of Theology, Ethics, and Culture.
“Part of our expression of faith is understanding that these moments are sacred spaces,” Robeck said, “that if it is something prompted by the Spirit, then in that moment it is more important than the material we need to get through.”
Robeck explained that he doesn’t usually plan to sermonize class time, but occasionally feels the Lord pulling him to take class conversations deeper. For Robeck, there are times when a question brought into class by a student indicates a desire to engage spiritually rather than just academically.
“In that moment it almost becomes just me and that student and the Holy Spirit facilitating that moment in time,” Robeck said.
Another professor known for taking class time to speak into the lives of students is Dr. Arthur Gray, adjunct professor in the Business and Religion departments. Gray explained that, like Robeck, his sermons aren’t always planned so much as put on his heart by the Spirit.
“Typically it’s things just resonating on my heart and I just feel led as to whether or not to share something with the students,” Gray said, “it really is a sense of attending to the academic requirements, but also leaving room for the Holy Spirit to move how he wants to move.”
Gray and Robeck both expressed that they feel their students benefit from the wisdom they impart separate from their class material. Sophomore Breana Lopez agrees with this sentiment, and appreciates the time taken by her professors.
“I am actually very thankful for it,” Lopez said, “I have learned from the professors that don’t just stick to the syllabus, they actually speak to you more about their experiences, and what the Word of God and their perspective is.”
Sophomores Grace Israel and Sebastian Alvarado explained that they value life lessons in the form of sermons from their professors. Israel stated that professors preaching about life scenarios that she has not yet experienced prepare her for things that could happen in her future.
“The main thing that we’re here for is to obviously learn to help prepare for our career,” Alvarado said, “but when [professors] take their time to help us learn about life outside of college, it does really help us out when we experience those situations.”
While students are grateful for the wisdom and spiritual guidance they receive from their professors, there are some scenarios where it is not the most welcome. Sophomore Jasmine Soto explained that while in some classes it is relatable, in others it seems off-track and random.
“I think there’s just some times it doesn’t work too well,” Soto said, “where it’s like we’re talking about experiments, but he’s trying to talk about baptism.”
In the right context, professors preaching in class is accepted and appreciated. Victoria Cierley, a senior, described professors preaching in class as spontaneous and organic, admiring the influence that they have.
“It really actually models the kind of influence I want to have on other people,” Cierley said.
Overall, the growing trend of professors taking time in class to preach or speak into the lives of their students is widely popular amongst the students receiving it. A possible reason for this is the growing desire for Spiritual guidance as students bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood, according to Gray.
“There is a hunger for the things of God in this generation,” Gray said, “and I think God is trying to use people of my generation to pour into them.”