Q&A with Terry Linhart

Terry Linhart has been the Director and Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry since the program's inception last year. He graduated with a B.A. in Music Theory from Taylor University in 1986 and became a Campus Life director in Fort Wayne shortly after, a job he held for eight years. In 1994, he became the youth pastor at Hope Missionary Church in Bluffton, Indiana. During his time there, he earned an M.A. in Educational Ministry from Huntington College (1998), co-wrote the book "Contagious Faith" with Dave Rahn (2000), and became an adjunct professor at Huntington College. He also began work on his Ph.D. at Purdue University while still serving at Hope and is currently preparing to defend his dissertation in April. He resides near Wakarusa with his wife, Kelly, and their children Lauren, 10; Jayson, 8; and Sean, 6.

How difficult was it to make the switch from leading a junior/senior high school youth group to teaching college?

"Well, it was an easy decision to come here, and really, it was a fairly easy process because of the warmth we received from Bethel's faculty and administration. The jobs are different, but it wasn't too difficult of a transition because I was an adjunct professor at Huntington."

Have you found teaching to be more or less than you hoped it would be?

"It's hard to answer ‘more or less.' I think it's a hard process to learn to manage a course from beginning to end. I still think I don't have it down because it takes years and it's such a big task. You can buy textbooks, set coursework, you have a course description to give you an idea of where to go, but you still have 30 students staring at you and you have to make it worth their while. But I enjoy it."

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

"It has to be my dad, foundationally so. Occupationally so, it was Dave Rahn. He gave me the opportunity to work on the book 'Contagious Faith' and helped foster the process for me to become an adjunct professor at Huntington College. My grandpa is probably my role model though, especially from an early age."

Do you have any good memories from when you were a college student?

"One night, six of us without dates were running around campus just being crazy, not really doing anything wrong. We snuck through the football stadium and went out the other side. Two of the guys left us and we weren't sure where they went. All of a sudden they were banging on campus security's windows, so security came and chased us and I was sitting there frozen, spending an hour running through the president's yard, around the lake, trying to get back to my room, crawling up the creek close to our dorm. I was searching to see if security was around the entrance to our dorm, and the coast was clear so I burst out from the underbrush and passed this dressed up couple back from a nice evening out.

We used to take the doors off the stalls in the bathroom and put them sideways in the shower and fill it up to make our own swimming pool on our hallway. Our floor chaplain would go to bed early, so we used to have a party in his room 20 minutes after he went to bed to wake him up again.

My favorite college memory is playing strobe light soccer in the hallway, which always ended up in a big hallway pile-up. I tried to stay clean and not pull a lot of pranks because I feared social probation."

Do you still work with music much?

"No. I was doing a retreat in 2000 where I was doing both the music and the speaking. After I packed the keyboards and we left for home, I told my wife I felt God was releasing us from music ministry. Other than helping my kids with piano and voice lessons, it wasn't something I saw myself doing for the rest of my life."

If you could trade jobs with anyone at Bethel for a day, who and why?

"Coach Mike Hutcheon, because I love baseball and I think it would be fun to coach."

Think you'll write anymore books in the future?

"When I wrote 'Contagious Faith' I didn't see the possibility of a book in the research, so it's hard to tell. Youth ministry is new and there is a need for textbooks, so there is great opportunity there. But textbooks can be uninteresting, so who knows?"

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

"Same thing I am now, but hopefully my office will be in a newer building by then."