Why An Online College? What Is The Purpose?
In the Fall of 1972 Hyles Anderson College became a reality. It was privilege for me to be a part of those early days and to graduate in 1976 with the first four year class of HAC. I was not a Christian High School or Homeschool graduate. I was a married man, with children who had already attended Michigan State University with an accounting and general business major. I had already begun a career with General Motors as an accountant. I was a layman in my local American Baptist church, but something happened to change all of that. I surrendered to full time service shortly after that I was exposed to two men, Dr. John R Rice and Dr. Jack Hyles. Their influence would change the direction of my entire life and family.
One day, my wife and I packed up our family and our belongings and moved to Hammond, Indiana, not only to enroll in Hyles Anderson College, but primarily to sit under the ministry of Dr. Jack Hyles.
In those early days of the college the majority of students did not come from a Christian school or homeschool background and they were not eighteen or nineteen year olds. The majority were mature married men with families. In fact, in those days, it seems that churches all across this nation were producing preacher boys who were not really boys at all, but men with families and careers. My peers in college were men who had to work full time jobs not merely in order to pay for their college, but to support a family as well.
To be honest, if I was facing that same decision today, I doubt I would move my family to sit under another man’s ministry, not because they are not good men, but because they are not Jack Hyles. He was the draw to those us back then. It was like coming for a four year Pastor’s School degree. We wanted to study the man and his ministry.
There are many fine Independent Baptist colleges today, but there is a drastic difference from those early days at Hyles-Anderson. Most of these colleges are populated by young people who graduated from Christian school or were home schooled. The number of married students has fallen to negligible numbers in most of them. In fact, many of these colleges are being fed by youth conferences. As a result it seems fewer and fewer mature married men are preparing for ministry. In fact, it seems to me that we are seeing fewer and fewer married men surrender to full time ministry in our churches because our emphasis has turned to the youth. Because these colleges are emphasizing youth they have also had to turn their attention from primarily providing a preparation ground for preachers to offering a wide variety of secular degrees for those who do not feel the call to full time service.
Independent Baptist Online College will begin by offering a four year degree, with future plans of offering advanced degrees. All classes will be taught online and will offer students an opportunity for live or prerecorded classes.
Some may wonder why Dr. Russell Anderson and myself would start another Bible college when many dear preacher friends around the country operate good Independent Baptist colleges. Please know that I strongly support these other colleges and do not want to be in competition with them. Instead I believe that Independent Baptist Online College will supplement and even compliment these other colleges.
Dr. Bob Gray, Sr