RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–The ministry impact of High Point, a program for student staff to explore servant leadership, has made its mark on Henry Richerson, the program’s director for 2001 at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center.
Richerson, a master of divinity graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, said the eight-week program for almost 70 student employees at Ridgecrest “gives participants an opportunity to discuss principles of leadership, develop disciplines of spiritual growth and apply those in their jobs.”
Those jobs, not particularly glamorous ones, may be cleaning guest rooms or working in some other form of service to the thousands of persons who attend conferences at LifeWay’s conference center in the east. At LifeWay’s conference center in Glorieta, N.M., the High Point program premiered last year and is in its second year with 130 participants for 2001.
At Ridgecrest, High Point has not only grown students in a ministry mindset and improved the prayer life of many, but also it has yielded some decisions for Christ that Richerson assumed already had been made.
“The first week, one person realized they had not taken all the steps to accept Jesus as Savior,” Richerson said. “Another realized the need to be baptized, and yet another will be baptized this summer in a local church.
“These are perks I did not expect to see,” he reflected.
High Point participants meet regularly in covenant groups for leadership development and spiritual growth. They also have in-depth study twice a week in addition to their work throughout the conference center.
High Point participants are studying the discipleship course “One on One with God” by Jerry Fine. Marilyn and Jerry Fine of Oklahoma City have been at Ridgecrest this summer working directly with the students. Participants also have studied “Authentic Influence,” a leadership training resource by Tim Elmore.
High Point participants say the program provides skills, lessons and experience that will affect them long after the summer has ended.
Jeremy Wicker of Americus, Ga., is a High Point participant and one of seven covenant group leaders who meet weekly with other participants to share and pray.
A member of Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens, Ga., where he attends the University of Georgia, Wicker came as a summer missionary from the Baptist Convention of the State of Georgia. He worked in the Nibble Nook, Ridgecrest’s snack shop, dipping ice cream.
“I get to do a lot of customer service,” he said, “and I believe relationships are crucial to discipleship. As a covenant group leader, I get to hang out a lot with the eight guys in my group. I’m learning more about servanthood, being behind the scenes. I believe I am getting a better grasp of the big picture of ministry.”
Heather Tate, a member of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Green Bay, Wis., worked in High Point in preparation for assuming a job in a children’s home setting this fall. Her Ridgecrest job has been housekeeping, where she said, “you really have to be a servant, because there is no glory at all.”
Tate said she would recommend High Point to others because the study materials have provided “real practical applications for life. As I work with 8- to 18-year-old girls this coming year, my training through High Point will help me to shepherd them.”
Will Green of St. Petersburg, Fla., was introduced to High Point by the youth pastor of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church. He described his assignment as a leader in Day Camp as “wonderful. The kids are so full of energy, and that is so contagious.
“High Point has given me good friends and a fellowship where I feel free to share. I’m getting a better knowledge of the Bible, and I’m setting good habits, such as improving my prayer life.”
John Mark Woodard of Colonial Heights Baptist Church, Kingsport, Tenn., agreed that High Point “has challenged me to grow deeper in my relationship to Christ and has kept me accountable, too.”
A student at East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Woodard plans to use the skills he has learned in High Point in a leadership role in the Baptist Student Union.
“I’ll take with me ways to serve other students through servant leadership,” he said. “This is just a step in the right direction toward becoming a leader in the church.”
The High Point program is sponsored by National Collegiate Ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, LifeWay’s conference centers and collegiate ministry programs throughout the country. It is intended to be a training lab in which leadership principles are developed in a practical work setting.
To express interest in High Point for 2002, write to High Point at Ridgecrest, P.O. Box 128, Ridgecrest, N.C. 28770 or at Glorieta, P.O. Box 8, Glorieta, N.M. 87535. A participation fee of $50 covers program resources, and participants are employed at an hourly rate for work assignments.