Go Make Disciples: Investing in the Next Generation
Chad Burchett | November 03, 2023
Southeastern alum, Tyler Groves, is passionate about making disciples as a Christian educator. On the front lines of family discipleship, Tyler is fulfilling the Great Commission by training students in the classroom and resourcing parents to foster their children’s growth in Christ.
A year after getting married, Tyler and his wife Kaitlyn moved to Wake Forest in 2016 for Tyler to pursue a Master of Arts in Christian Education at Southeastern Seminary. A graduate of Mississippi College with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies, Tyler came to Southeastern with a desire to teach and a passion for making disciples.
When he started classes at Southeastern, Tyler found that he was not only learning how to disciple students as a Christian educator but also being discipled by his professors and classmates.
“Professors who used their education profession to reach the nations gave me a ‘real-life’ example of how the Great Commission shapes a Christian philosophy of education,” recalled Tyler. “Whether it was in the classroom or on the other side of the globe, my professors were regularly modeling and setting an example for me to follow.”
“Relationships with fellow students during my time at Southeastern were a major source of encouragement for me,” added Tyler. “I was challenged, encouraged, and convicted to grow in Christ-likeness through friendships with godly brothers and sisters in Christ. Even as we’ve stayed connected years after graduating, these friendships continue to spur me on to love and good deeds while encouraging me in my ministry and family.”
Enriched by intentional community in the classroom and around campus, Tyler’s seminary education offered the kind of holistic and formative training that he hoped to one day reproduce. That is why, when he graduated from seminary in 2018, Tyler knew he wanted to continue his training at Southeastern.
In 2019, Tyler was accepted into Southeastern’s Doctor of Education (EdD) program where his friendships on campus deepened and he was challenged to grow as an educator with a warm heart for making disciples.
For Tyler, his doctoral professors helped him better understand himself and his role as a teacher, encouraging him to grow and persevere throughout his educational journey. As he observed their character and learned from their examples, Tyler realized that he wanted to not only learn from his professors but also be like them as teachers, mentors, and faithful followers of Christ.
“I am so grateful for my doctoral supervisor, Dr. Greg Lawson, and his investment in my life,” commented Tyler. “He made it clear that our relationship wasn’t ultimately about a degree. It was about being faithful to the call to make disciples who make disciples. He not only discipled me through our classes but also discipled me through the ebb and flow of day-to-day life. Like, Dr. Lawson, many of my professors have continued to be mentors and friends even after I graduated from Southeastern.”
It was about being faithful to the call to make disciples who make disciples.
As an EdD student, Tyler also gained invaluable classroom experience as a graduate teaching assistant and administrative experience as the dual enrollment coordinator at Southeastern. These opportunities for professional development helped to equip him well for the ministry the Lord was preparing for him.
In 2021, the year before he graduated with his EdD, Tyler became the director of spiritual formation at Hartfield Academy, a primary and secondary Christian school in Flowood, Mississippi. In God’s providence, Tyler’s ministry at Hartfield became a laboratory for him to apply and develop the lessons and principles he was learning at Southeastern.
“My studies in the EdD program are the foundation for what I do every single day,” noted Tyler. “From my seminars on history and philosophy of education to seminars on the doctrine of humanity, not a day goes by that I don’t utilize my training from Southeastern. As I wrote my dissertation on New Testament patterns of discipleship as evidenced by the Apostle Paul, I was constantly applying the truth of Scripture to how we serve students here at Hartfield.”
As the director of spiritual formation, Tyler has used his Southeastern training to not only teach students but also equip families to disciple their children as eager learners and devoted followers of Christ. In God’s kindness, Tyler has seen students surrender their lives to Christ and parents take seriously their responsibility to disciple their children.
“In Deuteronomy 6, God gives parents the responsibility of passing faith to the next generation,” commented Tyler. “Part of my role is to equip parents with tools they need to faithfully engage their students in the challenges that are facing younger generations (Gen Z and Gen Alpha). I know that the greatest impact I can have is by equipping parents to faithfully disciple their students in all areas of their lives.”
I know that the greatest impact I can have is by equipping parents to faithfully disciple their students in all areas of their lives.
Over the past two and a half years, God has used everyday interactions and worldview classes for parents to strengthen homes and equip parents to disciple their children.
Tyler recalled the story of a particular parent who attended one of his worldview classes in Hartfield’s Parent Institute. Through the parent training at Hartfield, this parent had started praying and reading the Bible with her teenager and taking intentional steps to concertedly invest in her teenager’s spiritual life. Stories like this are encouraging reminders for Tyler that his professors’ investment in his life is bearing fruit as he makes disciples who make disciples.
In his role at Hartfield, Tyler also helps to ensure that every classroom operates within a Christian worldview that equips students to understand and apply God’s word without compromising academic rigor. This attentiveness to Christian worldview has been lifegiving for teachers, students, and their families as they learn to think about God’s world in light of God’s word. This emphasis has also had a lasting impact on students who are not Christians as they learn what the Bible truly teaches.
“There was a student I met when I first started at Hartfield who was open about not being a believer,” Tyler recalled. “I appreciated their honesty and transparency as they regularly engaged in our school culture in a meaningful way. After graduation, the student approached me and said, ‘Dr. Groves, I still don’t know that I’m ready to follow Christ. However, Hartfield has taught me that Christianity is truly unlike any other religion. I’m more open and sensitive to Christianity than I was when I started here.’”
As gospel seeds are planted at Hartfield, Tyler often has the joy of seeing that investment bear fruit. For Tyler, fruitfulness, however, is not the goal; faithfulness to Christ and his Great Commission is. This Great Commission mindset has oriented Tyler’s ministry ever since his days as a student at Southeastern.
“My training at Southeastern prepared me by equipping me with the tools I’ve needed to make disciples through the education profession,” noted Tyler. “It shaped my heart and mind to be focused on the Great Commission in every aspect of my work and ministry. From teaching bible classes and professional development events to evaluating policy and procedures and navigating conflict resolution, Southeastern shaped me to see all things as an effort to fulfill the final command of King Jesus.”
Would you join us in praying for Tyler to remain faithful to the task of making disciples and pray for Hartfield to continue investing well in students and their families?