How Academic Study Intersects with Christian Ministry

Calvin College professors across disciplines share how their areas of study intersect with ministry and how their disciplines would complement the Ministry Leadership Fellows program.

Jane Zwart (2)

Jane Zwart

Samuel Smartt(2)

Samuel Smartt

Jamie Skillen(2)

Jamie Skillen

Jane Zwart | English

Ministry depends upon using language in ways that are generous, winsome, and wise, and students who choose a major in English will be equipped to do just that. After all, testimonies belong to the genre of story, sermons to the genre of the essay, and prayers and psalms and hymns to the genre of poetry. In apprenticing students to read and write in these genres, then, their English classes will teach them to incarnate, in their words, the power of the gospel. Studying English will also prepare them to enter diverse cultural and discourse communities with sensitivity and insight. And their courses will strengthen them in interpreting the literature of the Bible as well as the life stories of those to whom they minister. Indeed, our curriculum in literature, writing, and linguistics—including the internship that all English majors complete—gives students in Christian ministry studies a host of talents to invest for the kingdom of God.


Samuel Smartt | Film and Media

The most obvious way in which students with film and media degrees serve in Christian ministries is by providing audiovisual support for worship services. We have many alumni who work full or part time for churches in different capacities—event coverage, streaming service, worship videos, social media, and more. In the liberal arts context Calvin provides, however, not all film and media students go on to media-related careers, and we have had alumni enter the ministry full time. The experiences gained in the film and media major working with others to communicate a message to an audience equips students to serve their congregations in many ways, either as a volunteer or a staff member.

We actively encourage our students to combine their study in film and media with other programs or co-curricular activities. Often this combination will provide students with a unique direction to follow. The schedule of the program also affords students flexibility to study abroad or at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.


James Skillen | Geology, Geography & Environmental Studies

“God is in the process of redeeming the creation from the forces of sin and death. Environmental stewardship is, therefore, a labor of imagination and hope oriented toward God’s coming kingdom. For this second reason, much of the work of Christian environmental stewardship needs to take place in communities of faith as people gather in hope around the Eucharistic table. By starting with issues of local and immediate concern, these communities can explore the kinds of compromise solutions that are sensitive to the details of that place.”

Skillen, James R. “Made in the Image of God and the Earth: Understanding Our Place in God's Creation.” The Cresset 71, no. 3 (2008) 6–13.

Check out this article on the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship website in which Skillen speaks to the ways environmental studies students learn to practice life and ministry that affirm the physical world God created and trust the sovereignty of God and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.


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