Degree in Ministry Prepares Couple to Serve Side by Side
Two recent Grace College graduates, Lawrence and Emily La-Follette, are putting their biblical training to use side by side in Macedonia, Ohio. Lawrence and Emily both earned a degree in ministry and are currently at Western Reserve Grace Church: Lawrence as the Pastor of Biblical Integration and Emily as the Student Resident. As second-generation Grace College students, Grace has been an integral part of their journeys. Not only is Grace where they were trained for their individual ministries but also where they met and prepared to serve God side by side.
If you are seeking a bachelor’s degree in theology, keep reading to hear what Lawrence and Emily have to say about the value of a degree in ministry from Grace.
How did you end up at Grace and how did you choose to get a degree in ministry?
Lawrence: Grace College was a part of my life long before I came in as a Freshman. When I was twelve years old, my parents decided to go back to school: my dad for a seminary degree in ministry, and my mom for a nursing degree. We moved next to Grace’s campus in Winona Lake until the summer before I moved into Beta Hall. So when it came time for me to choose a school, Grace College was the obvious choice. It had sentimental value as part of my upbringing.
I came in knowing I wanted a degree in ministry. A few weeks into the semester, my advisor, Dr. Rata, told me about the Master’s of Divinity Accelerated Program. I switched to a five-year program where I pursued Biblical Studies/Biblical Languages for undergrad and an MDiv until I graduated in May 2021.
Emily: My parents went to Grace College and then went into full-time ministry together. When the Lord called me to pursue a degree in ministry, I wanted to be trained in Scripture where my parents were trained. My degree is Biblical Studies with a minor in Behavioral Science.
How did the two of you meet?
Emily: Lawrence and I met through my RA, Abi Woods. I came to Grace wanting to restart and was praying for a season of harvest. The Lord gave me so much joy and harvest in my first year and I am so grateful. I remember writing in my journal “Lord, I am so content. I could be satisfied for the rest of my life if this is what you’ve given me.” The next day, Abi approached me about a blind date. I was very hesitant at first because I didn’t want anything to turn into a drama fest. However, I trusted the Lord and decided to agree. I ended up figuring out who I was going on the date with, but it was the best date of my life! Lawrence pursued me and asked me so many questions. He was serious about serving the Lord for the rest of his life and that is why I fell in love with him!
How did you both get the jobs you have now?
Lawrence: Emily and I were both pursuing a degree in ministry and careers in local church ministry, but we didn’t know exactly where that was going to be. We loved the idea of working together on a church staff, but it felt like a dream that was too good to be true. Over the course of my fifth year at Grace, I began sending my resume to churches to try to find a position. After several conversations with churches all across the states, we were eventually approached by Western Reserve Grace Church in Macedonia, Ohio. Jason Haymaker, Lead Pastor (and Emily’s father), and Mickey D’Angelo, Family Ministries Pastor, asked us to dinner at Cerulean in Winona Lake. Over the course of the meal, we were both offered jobs. We would be working on the same church staff with one another in positions that completely fulfilled the passions and calling that God had placed on our lives. Needless to say, we ended up praying through and accepting the jobs, relocating to Macedonia after my graduation.
How did your passion for discipleship develop?
Lawrence: My passion for discipleship has been a lifelong process of God using His people to impact my worldview. Both my dad and my grandpa were pastors, and they consistently preached a discipleship vision for who God designed us to be. We were designed to live in community with other believers, growing in Christ, imitating Christ, and serving Christ. At the same time, my youth pastor in high school dedicated every Friday afternoon to intentional discipleship/mentorship with me. We would go to a coffee shop right after school and talk about life, ministry, and what it meant to be a man of God. He helped shape me into who I am today, giving me opportunities to preach, teach, and serve in my youth group setting. Throughout the years from high school to college to the present day, God has grown those seeds that were sown in me, and I want my whole life to be dedicated to this mission of creating disciples, who make more disciples, who make more disciples.
What do you enjoy most about student ministry?
Emily: I adore every aspect of student ministry. Therefore, it is hard to answer what I enjoy most. Although, nothing compares to when a lightbulb goes off in a student’s mind when they realize who Jesus is and the relationship that He desires to have with them!
What advice would you give a student who is just beginning their journey at Grace?
Lawrence: If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be this: it’s not about what you do; it’s about who you are. Too often I see students get overly concerned about what they are going to do vocationally or how they are going to provide for themselves in the future. While these are genuine concerns and they matter, the reality is that God cares more about who you are than what you do vocationally. He wants all of His people to be disciples regardless of their vocation. Does He care about their vocation? Certainly! He’s a God who cares about the details. Yet, the detail He is most concerned about is the relationship His people have with Him. Never let the minors (career/vocation) overcome the majors (relationship with God). Pursue Him first. I have also heard it said, “Remember who and whose you are.” Again, it’s not about what you do vocationally. It’s about who you are and the fact that you are God’s child/disciple. He will fill in the details. We just have to keep moving toward Him and let Him lead.
Emily: Make sure to find a church in the first month of college! You need an outside source pouring into you other than chapels. This is so important for new students to keep growing their faith and to keep them rooted in Jesus!
How did your degree in ministry at Grace positively impact your life and relationship with God?
Lawrence: My relationship with God grew over my time at Grace College for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest was the influence of my professors and their teaching throughout my education. I learned more about God, more about Scripture, more about the church, and more about faith over the last five years than I may learn for the rest of my life. Of course, I will always pursue growth, but that time was something special. It was also unique to have like-minded peers and classmates who were pursuing the same things that I was. Iron sharpens iron, and that is exactly what happened to me at Grace. Moving into the future, I have much deeper relationships horizontally (friends, peers, professors), and I have a far deeper relationship vertically (with my Savior).
Emily: Grace positively impacted my life by allowing me to be in a space that I could be an adult, but still have support around me. I learned how to be independent while still having amazing leaders and friends around me. Grace impacted my relationship with God by having outstanding Bible professors who encouraged me, stayed true to the Word, and challenged us to have a relationship with Jesus outside of Bible class!
Are you ready to join the Grace family?