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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

AGTV Video
Connections: Gordon Anderson

North Central's 'Youth Pastor'

Dr. Gordon Anderson has served as president of North Central University in Minneapolis, Minn., for 14 years. Anderson recently spoke with Bob Cook, executive vice president of the Alliance for Assemblies of God Higher Education, and Pentecostal Evangel Editor Ken Horn.

evangel: Could you talk about your salvation experience, your call to the ministry and how the Lord has led you to where you are today?
I was raised in a Christian home and was saved in an Assemblies of God church as a child. But I grew up in a non-Assemblies of God church, so I didn’t come into the Pentecostal experience until the charismatic renewal in Southern California. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit at 22 years of age and then felt called into the ministry. I went back to school and came into the Assemblies of God. I was credentialed in the Rocky Mountain District in 1972 and pastored for 10 years in eastern Colorado and then in Portland, Ore. I felt led to pursue further education and went to North Central in 1982. I’ve been there ever since — in the classroom, as a faculty member, and finally as president since 1995.

evangel: What is your sense of fulfillment in teaching and being a part of the educational scene?
It’s working with young people. I tell people I am not a president. They expect all kinds of things with presidents that I don’t do and don’t want to do. I think of myself as a youth pastor. After all, I work with 18- to 22-year-olds.

I believe we have a new generation of Timothys sitting in our schools. Sometimes when you get older, you can get a curmudgeonly attitude and act like the Holy Spirit left shortly after you were born. That’s nonsense; we’ve got fabulous young people. Working with them is a look into the future. I feel like an orchard keeper looking at young trees and contemplating what God is going to do 10 or 20 years later in their lives.

evangel: It’s been more than nine years now since I [Ken] came to your campus for the Evangel and wrote an article on what God was doing there. One of the things that stands out in my memory was that at 12:30 during the students’ lunch period there were still hundreds of students in the chapel praying. Is the school still thriving spiritually?

It really is. Spirituality is more than a blip on the radar screen. Some people talk about “re-vival.” I like to talk about “vival.” I want our students to experience the ongoing life of the Spirit. And if we strive for that and achieve it then we’ve really achieved something. And yes, things are going very, very well in terms of the long-term spiritual vitality at North Central.

evangel: North Central is the only one of our Assemblies of God colleges and universities that is urban. What are some of the dynamics that that brings?

It’s our laboratory for life. We are literally right downtown, a stone’s throw from the business centers and the sports complexes and all of that. It’s a multiethnic, socioeconomic mix including the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. Students can meet the world in a city like Minneapolis, so it’s fabulous.

evangel: Tell us some of the history of North Central University.

North Central was started by Frank Lindquist in the basement of his church downtown in 1930, within a few months of the stock market crash. By the middle of that decade in the depths of the Great Depression, the school bought an old hospital building that was bankrupt and boarded up in downtown Minneapolis. You have to consider the faith, vision, courage and creativity that represented. We’re truly a traditional Bible school with a deep spiritual heritage. The primary ethos at North Central really is what happens at chapel.

evangel: You’ve added a lot of majors and various programs.
We continue to offer church vocational majors in very strong pastoral, youth, children’s and music programs. We also offer degrees in psychology, business, journalism and other professional studies. We recently established drug and alcohol rehabilitation studies with Teen Challenge’s help and counsel and direction. We offer more than 30 majors. One of the great things about a school our size — roughly 1,200 students — is that students develop close relationships with our faculty. We’re a very tight residential community.

evangel: How do you see lives affected among the students?
I like to say that we’re not in the education business, we’re in the transformation business. Education is just one piece to transformation. Transformation is a spiritual metamorphosis. We help students discover their gifts, their calling, and we help cultivate that.

evangel: Talk to our readers about finding the Lord’s will and some of the benefits of going to a Christian school.
Those years right after high school are critical years. The secular university is no friend of faith. That transition time between high school and your career is not a time to be taking a chance or risk. Get plugged into a Christian school. That’s the strongest advice, the best advice, I could give to any young person. Get grounded. That’s what our schools are there for. Those are the words that I would offer to pastors, educators, leaders, parents, but also to the wonderful young people of our Movement.

For more information about North Central University and other Assemblies of God colleges, visit



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