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For those who have visited College Baptist Church recently and scrawled their names in the visitor’s log, Pastor Ben Cuthbert has probably com­mitted it to memory.

Pastor Ben Cuthbert and his family joined College Baptist Church in June. Ben Cuthbert | Courtesy

According to junior Alexander Green, who reg­u­larly attends College Baptist and occa­sionally helps lead worship, Cuthbert mem­o­rizes names in the visitor’s log.

“He’s working very hard at getting to know stu­dents and the com­munity, and it shows,” Green said.

Cuthbert said he desires to invest in College Baptist and the Hillsdale  com­munity, after taking over as the church’s pastor this summer.

Since growing up in Dowagiac, Michigan, on his family’s farm, Cuthbert has expe­ri­enced vastly dif­ferent sit­u­a­tions, from working as a financial adviser for the inde­pen­dently wealthy to doing relief work with Samaritan’s Purse in Afghanistan.

Although he studied business and the­ology at Wheaton College and main­tained a desire for min­istry, Cuthbert didn’t attend sem­inary until six years after his grad­u­ation in 2000.

“I didn’t want to go to sem­inary just to get another degree,” he said. “I wanted to be certain about what God was calling me to.”

Some fear a time off from school or a spe­cific career path, but Cuthbert said his time working and expe­ri­encing dif­ferent career options actually made his graduate studies more rewarding.

He even went back to work at his family farm for two years, and his impression of the rural com­munity helped bring him to Hillsdale.

For Pastor Ben Cuthbert, and his wife Rachel Cuthbert, College Baptist rep­re­sents a unique oppor­tunity to impact stu­dents, as well as “return to their roots.”

“Small town com­mu­nities are often for­gotten places. We’ve kind of asso­ciated them with vibrant Christian churches, but that’s not always the case anymore,” he said. “So I want to see, can I con­tribute to min­is­tering in a town where maybe the Gospel is taken for granted?”

When he and his family arrived in Hillsdale in June, the Cuth­berts dived into both town and church life. He and his wife Rachel signed their eldest children up for coach-pitch baseball, and helped run VBS at College Baptist.

Cuthbert’s reception at College Baptist has been very pos­itive.  As Assistant Pro­fessor of Religion Don West­blade wrote in an email, “Pastor Ben Cuthbert comes to College Baptist with a con­ta­gious heart for God, with gift­edness in expos­itory preaching, with an expe­ri­enced wisdom in leading and coun­seling that I have already come con­fi­dently to trust.”

Cuthbert said his min­istry “begins with preaching the Gospel clearly and reg­u­larly and explaining to people that the real response to the Gospel is repenting and believing.”

He said he holds indi­viduals respon­sible for their faith, and pursues a rela­tional min­istry.

“You’re not a Christian by virtue of being raised in a Christian home, and you’re not a Christian by virtue of attending a par­ticular church,” he said. “Each and every one of us needs to repent and believe.”

The need for the gospel isn’t con­fined to pew-dwellers. Both the con­gre­gation and the pastor need to hear the gospel, Cuthbert said he believes. This applies to his current sermon series, for which he’s chosen 2 Timothy. This series, he said, “I’ll have to preach to myself and the con­gre­gation.”

Though 2 Timothy is Paul’s farewell letter to the young dis­ciple Timothy, Cuthbert thought the book would be a timely oppor­tunity for a new pastor to define Christian min­istry for himself and his con­gre­gation from the per­spective of Paul’s extensive and gru­eling expe­ri­ences.

Cuthbert said that in his mind, min­istry “takes time, per­sonal con­ver­sa­tions,” and “one-on-one evan­gelism.”

It extends beyond College Baptist, as Cuthbert wants the church to “be more engaged in the com­munity.” He said he also hopes that stu­dents will bridge the gap between the com­munity and the con­gre­gation of College Baptist.

Addi­tionally, Cuthbert said he wants stu­dents to “come away with a passion for the local church, so when they move, they’ll find a church and just get involved in its life and min­istry.”

Cuthbert is already appealing to the com­munity. West­blade, who is also an elder at College Baptist, wrote that “atten­dance is breaking new records this fall,” and some stu­dents say they are already responding well to Cuthbert’s min­istry.

“He really cares about dis­ci­pleship; he’s being very proactive about rela­tion­ships and teaching the Word,” Green said. “He was all for grabbing coffee with me without really knowing why.”

West­blade wrote that Pastor Cuthbert will be pressing the College Baptist con­gre­gation to “develop friend­ships in the com­munity within which the Gospel can be heard with warmth and clarity.”

Green also affirmed Cuthbert’s pri­ority on the Bible over a per­sonal agenda.

“He teaches truth with tact, but also very hon­estly,” Green said. “He explores the text that we’re studying and pulls from it rather than putting his own topic on it.”

Pastor Cuthbert will be offi­cially installed at a service at College Baptist at 5 p.m. this Sunday, Oct. 8th.

“The com­munity is heartily invited,” West­blade said.