Why We Got Rid of Demerits At TBC

students_02_2016Over the past five years there have been several significant changes made at TBC. The overwhelming majority of these changes were desperately needed. They have been positive in keeping the college sustainable and on a pathway to growth. I could focus on any one of these changes and talk about the rationale for the change and what has been impacted, both positively and negatively by it.

The one change that has perhaps intrigued me the most is the change that we made to our disciplinary system. Like many other Christian colleges, TBC had used a demerit system since its early days.

When current TBC President Mac Heavener arrived on the job he described the demerit system to me as a “gotcha” system. He said that instead of focusing on finding students doing right, it created an environment where college faculty and staff, as well as student leaders (RA’s), focused on trying to “catch” students doing wrong.

The more I thought about this the more his assessment made sense. Over a course of time, we worked together as a team to create a better system, one that more closely mirrored real life and also one that followed a more biblical model.

Our new disciplinary system is focused on the ideas of mentoring, accountability and responsibility.


The idea of mentoring is that we are providing guidance and teaching as opposed to just telling students that they messed up. Even when mistakes are made, we are committed to providing a path of restoration. As long as a student is willing to continue moving forward, then we want to be a part of that journey. We are all growing and we all need mentoring.


At the end of the day, there have to be guidelines in place. As much as we like to think that we are independent free agents, even as mature adults we need accountability in life. We need to know where the boundaries are. There have been many times in our college’s history where we have placed boundaries in areas where the Scriptures were silent, largely based on preference of opinion or tradition. Our efforts in recent days have been focused on providing accountability in a biblical fashion that is both reasonable and in harmony with the realities of the world in which we live. Preferences change, principles seldom do.


Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is a major hurdle to cross for most young adults. Our role as a college is to assist in this transition by making students aware of the responsibilities that come with being an interdependent adult. I intentionally use the word “interdependent” rather than independent because for our students to be successful in life they need to learn how to be a good teammate. God did not intend for us to be islands unto ourselves. We were built for relationship and community. As students learn that they have a responsibility to God and to others whom God has placed in their life, they will begin to build a successful life.


3 Reasons for a Christian College

2274225022_3f3beac0ef_zWhy does a Christian college exist? What sets a Christian college apart from a secular one? Why would my time be better spent serving students at TBC as opposed to working at a state college or university?  I have tossed these questions around in my mind more times than I care to admit over the past eight years that I have served here at TBC. That may be a surprising admission from someone whose primary vocation is Christian higher education. However, I am asking this question in an attempt to ensure that what I am doing personally and what we are doing institutionally has eternal merit. After much thought, I believe that there are many good answers to these questions and I will share a few of the best ones below.


1. A Christian College Can Give Priority to A Biblical Worldview

This is one definite item that sets apart a Christian college from secular. Perhaps at no other time in American history should this matter more to us as believers; we are facing a culture that is becoming increasingly secular.

One of the primary distinctions of a secular society is that the majority of the population pursues a life completely devoid of any thought outside of the human realm. The questions of the origination of life, the purpose of life and the ultimate destination for life are all answered by looking within, void of any thought of ultimate accountability to a higher being or a purpose to life that is beyond their perceived needs or wants.

A Christian college provides a base of operations for ideas that are counter to a secular culture. It is here that we can communicate clearly and boldly to students that life is not all about them. There is ultimate accountability to the Triune God who is not only Creator of the universe, but also the Creator of them as individuals. As such, He possesses ultimate authority and provides ultimate accountability. This biblical view of the world permeates every aspect of Christian education and is the backdrop that provides meaning and purpose to all of life.

You will not find a biblical worldview being espoused at a secular college. In fact, the goal of many at these institutions will be to disparage and attack the biblical worldview at every opportunity.

2. A Christian College Can Place A Priority Upon the Local Church

There is no statement truer than this.  A healthy, vibrant, New Testament church is the greatest hope for our secular society.  We know that ultimately our hope is in Jesus Christ, but He is using His church to accomplish His work on earth at this present time. All of the Christian colleges in the world cannot replace the church.

This is one thing that I love most about Trinity Baptist College, we are a ministry of a local church. We are partners with Trinity Baptist Church and committed to working alongside the church to accomplish a mission that is bigger than us. One of the greatest things that we as a college can do for our students is to instill in them a love for the church. This is a natural relationship for us. Our students have ample opportunity to connect with, serve in and develop a love for the church.

We have failed to accomplish a major portion of our mission if a student leaves Trinity Baptist College and has not recognized the need for being deeply involved in a local church. If they are not seeing that modeled by our faculty and staff, then we are missing the bigger picture. As a college, we have the privilege of connecting them to the work that God is doing and also demonstrating for them how to be involved directly in that work.

3. A Christian College Can Provide Greater Significance to Education

In essence, I am stating that everything I have articulated to this point provides a depth and substance to the education process that is eternal. Learning is a positive thing. Going to college and earning a degree is a positive thing. However, if the only purpose of my education is to improve my earning capacity or better provide for the physical needs of others, there may be a temporary and earthly benefit, but it is devoid of eternal value.

By providing an education within the context of eternal truths, students are able to take the knowledge and opportunities that come along with a college degree and use all of that to advance the cause of Christ. We recognize that not every TBC graduate will be a pastor, youth pastor, or missionary in a full-time capacity, but all of our students, if they have professed faith in Christ, have been assigned the same biblical mission, to be kingdom multipliers.  As a Christian college, we have the ability to frame the entire educational process within the scope of this larger mission.

Final Thought:

It is truly a blessing to be involved in the work of a Christian college. I am more committed to this task than I have ever been and I am seeing the benefits and opportunities like never before. Please pray for our college that God will continue to use it as we prepare students for life and ministry.


Photo Credit: Prabhu B Doss /  license terms