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Veteran educator Adams brings passion for youth to Boyce College
January 04, 2005
By Jeff Robinson
David Adams (center) talks with students. Adams ministry has been driven by a passion to reach youth. Photo by David Merrifield
David Adams has been involved in youth ministry virtually since the day of his conversion.
After trusting in Christ for salvation as a 17-year-old high school student in his hometown of Zoarville, Ohio, Adams knew what he had to do: proclaim the Gospel to his entire school.
"Before the school year was over I shared Christ with every one of my high school classmates, teachers, administrators and board members," Adams said.
"I felt the call to ministry while standing in front of my locker in high school and experienced my responsibility to win my school to Christ."
In the 35 years since, Adams has not slowed down in his attempt to win youths of the world for Christ. Today, Adams serves as professor of youth ministry at Boyce College and has been executive director for the National Center for Youth Ministry (CYM) since 1999.
Adams served as the first dean of students at Boyce from 1999 to 2001. He became president of Lexington Bible College in 1994 but joined the Boyce staff when the school closed at his recommendation in 1999.
He recommended that Lexington's students transfer to Boyce and many of them did so. Adams has actively recruited students to the school from the outset of his tenure.
"I encouraged my 29-year network of ministerial friends to consider Boyce as their place for ministerial training," he said.
When establishing an advisory board for the CYM, Adams tapped former students — most of whom are now prominent youth pastors — from the two previous institutions he has served. In turn, many of the youth pastors visit the Boyce campus then urge their students to attend the college.
Adams has established a major recruiting tool for Boyce with CYM's annual Vision Youth Conferences, which seek to equip youth leaders to better carry out their ministries.
The conference comes with the residual benefit of introducing church leaders to Boyce College and Southern Seminary, he said.
"The conferences are a 'touchstone' strategy to bring church leaders to the SBTS campus, connecting them to our institution," Adams said.
"I would like for our school to be perceived as a vital resource to local church leaders, youth leaders, parents and pastors. It is a part of our partnership with churches.
"The conferences also serve as a recruitment tool by servicing the needs of youth leaders who will ultimately bring students to our school. Many of the workers themselves will enroll at SBTS to continue their education."
Adams says the profundity of the need for youth ministry is seen clearly in the numbers.
"Half of the world is under the age of 25," Adams said. "Eighty-five percent of Christians are saved before the age of 19. More than 95 percent of the world's population lives outside [of the United States].
"These statistics signal a time of unprecedented opportunity for reaching the world's youth and a strategic approach for national and foreign missions.
"Church growth and retention has a direct correlation with successful youth and family ministries. To an extent, church training institutions are surpassed by the value that the secular world places on the importance of the impact of youth ministry."
In his six years at Boyce, Adams has watched the school grow from a fledgling undergraduate program to a vibrant, growing school with more than 600 students.
From the outset, Adams has aggressively promoted Southern Seminary's undergraduate school. While serving as dean of students, Adams recommended various promotional advertising campaigns that have since helped advance the Boyce cause.
He also has an extensive speaking itinerary that provides him with ample opportunities to present the school.
The fact that statistics point to a relatively young world population is by no means the only reason youths need to be trained biblically, Adams said.
The shift in today's postmodern society away from a Judeo-Christian worldview to radically humanistic and atheistic views makes youth ministry all the more urgent.
"Graduates of Baptist churches are finding their way to the 'broad way that leads to destruction,'" he said. "It behooves our school to positively influence this trend by equipping leaders to address this decline."
Adams lists curriculum, quality professors and experiential learning as aspects that must be foundational to Christian undergraduate schools. Boyce is built upon these very things, he said.
"Youth leaders are ministers of the Gospel, as such they must know the Word of God," he said. "At Boyce, we require core curriculum that includes the essentials: Bible, theology, apologetics and worldviews.
"A 'best of breed' academic review of competitive institutions will reveal that we are second to none when it comes to a commitment to knowing the Scriptures and how they are applicable to culture."
Adams was profoundly shaped by his 21 years at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., under the ministry of Jerry Falwell. From 1973 to 1994, Adams served as youth and family pastor at Thomas Road.
He also served at Liberty University, the school from which he earned a doctor of ministry degree.
Adams rose in rank from instructor to full professor and from 1988 to 1994 served as department chairman of the university's school of religion. He also received the Liberty University Lifetime Achievement Award.
Adams says watching God work through Falwell was of inestimable value to his own ministry.
"I was privileged to see God's sovereign selection of Jerry to accomplish the supernatural," Adams said. "Average men are inspired to do extraordinary things because of his style of leadership.
"He attracts and develops leaders and empowers them. Thinking outside the box, being an entrepreneur and daring to take the big steps of faith are all things I experienced under his leadership. Be a fearless leader, knowing that 'the man of God is indestructible until God is finished with him.'"
At Thomas Road, Adams taught all three of Falwell's children within the youth ministry.
"He [Falwell] is the ultimate husband, dad and grandfather," Adams said.
"Though controversy surrounds him, he's still just a good ole boy locally. I was honored to serve under him and [be] impacted for a life of ministry by him."
Adams met his wife, Becky, during his first semester as a student at Arlington Baptist College in Texas.
The two shared a passion for ministering to youths as Becky traveled over eight hours on weekends to Midland, Texas, to work in youth ministry.
The two were married at the end of his freshman year.
The Adams have three children.