As a graduate of Central Bible College, I take interest in the selling of the land (partly because I am saddened by the action). The latest challenge is over tax breaks with the city.
According to Springfield News Leader, starting in 2016, the Assemblies are going to have to pay up to $200,000 in taxes on the property. This is because it is no longer being used a educational facility.
This is because the Assemblies of God are dead set on selling the old Central Bible College and not use for ministry purposes. This was concerned by the State of Missouri in the report, “While it is true that a property is not required to be used to its full capacity to be entitled to exemption, the totality of circumstances must be considered…The statements are overly broad, general, imprecise, non-specific, and without documentary support,” the tax commission’s analysis determined. “Such claims are, at best, speculative and theoretical.”
Personally, I would join the other people who also attended the school that would like to see the school revived and not sold off. I find it hard to believe that the Assemblies of God at its’ size can not find any use for the campus.
Why was Central Bible College closed?
It really came down to two issues: the cost of running two schools that do close to the same thing and increasing the student population at Evangel University.
The fact is that Springfield host CBC, Evangel, and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary. Evangel and AGTS are basically next to each other and CBC was across town.
Because of this, the cost of everything was double. Two libraries, two chapels,two parking lots, etc. They wanted to reduce the cost involved by moving everything to one campus. While many disagreed with the decision, it was not a small amount of money involved. It was litterally millions.
The other issue that Evangel is a small university and by adding the CBC population; it makes seem to be bigger and that will attract many things including investments.
If you take an honest look at the issue, it really was and has always been about budgets. You could call it about stewardship and even then, it really come down to the money that it takes to operate a campus of this size. Many other bible colleges like Oral Roberts University have had similar challenges.
In the end, this is part of the reason that it makes it hard to sell. In order to use the campus, it would really need to be another college and they would have to be able to financially manage the operation of the school. Any school that can that would already have a campus in reality.
In the end, I will for that closing Central Bible College by the Assemblies of God was a serious mistake and should be reserved. I would think the campus not being able to be sold would be a clear sign that the Holy Spirit has something to say about the issue.
The case for biblical education
I believe there is something to be said for a place committed to just training people for ministry. While I understand that we are be the salt and light, I see the value of being in a place where everyone has a similar goal. Purposeful bible college are becoming a thing of the past. This is not just an Assemblies of God thing, either.
We are commanded to give milk to those need milk. When you mix ministry training with people going to school to be history teachers; it requires the reduction of intensity to give milk to the babes in the Spirit. The depth of spirituality can be limited.
This trend is not good and there needs to be a serious inquiry into the issue. We need to get back to do theological training that is deep and that is purposeful. While losing the Pentecostal proving grounds as one of those places, I see very few of them to replace it.
The truth of the matter is Central Bible College is far from the only school that has closed its’ door in the last decade. Bethany Bible College in California is closed as well. Church of God has done similar actions in the past. Foursquare is not fairing much better, either.
I will openly admit that Master’s Commission could become a model to replace the traditional biblical education but I do not believe it is a either/or thing at this point.
What to do with the campus?
I have a hard time believing that the Assemblies of God can’t find a use for the campus to the point that they just have to sell it off. I want to give a few suggestions that could be considered.
Teen Challenge campus
I know this seems like a no brainier but to change it into a training center for people doing the second phase of Teen Challenge would be a smart way to use the campus and advance the vision of one of the most iconic outreaches of the Assemblies of God.
I have problems believing that Teen Challenge can make good use of Central Bible College and transform it into a place that trains people to be set free and how to set others free.
Donate it to YWAM
Back in the day, Loren Cunningham went to the school and it was here that he was trained as a missionary. It could make sense to just donate the campus to YWAM as a mission training center. I am sure that they could make it into a mission base without much trouble.
As a former YWAMer, I know the struggles of building bases. If they were given a campus that is ready to go, it would make what they much, much easier. This is another no brainier.
Retreat Center for missionaries
The rate that missionaries are falling out of the field is alarming. They need a support system and building a place that is completely aimed to minister to hurting missionaries is something that would make sense.
It could use for training missionaries going to the field and a place to heal up missionaries coming home from the field.
No matter what they do, they can find a better use that just having an auction.