PHOTO CAPTION: Scotty Gibbons will return to Evangel University to speak at Homecoming on Thursday, Oct. 9, at 10 a.m.
SPRINGFIELD, MO — Most teens dream about a future that includes adventure and excitement. Many see themselves as a star athlete or a performer on a stage.
Scotty Gibbons was a very good athlete in Jackson, Miss., who knew from the ninth grade that he would be working with students. At that time, he just wasn’t sure what that meant.
Gibbons’ sense of calling became clear soon after, when then-Evangel President Robert H. Spence spoke at his home church. There, Spence introduced him to Evangel football and the school’s focus on the integration of faith, learning and life.
“I was an athlete, and I liked the idea of sports helping pay for my college education,” said Gibbons. “By this point, I knew I was called to be a youth pastor, and I knew Evangel could help me get there.”
In 1990, Gibbons enrolled at Evangel and, as a freshman, was good enough to be the backup quarterback. In the spring, that Evangel team was honored to be the first ever to play American football in mainland China.
Gibbons experienced adventure and excitement, but also faced an unexpected turn of events.
“I had a back injury in the fall,” Gibbons explained. “The next spring, I went on that historic trip to China and had an awesome experience. But the trip showed me that I could not rehabilitate to the intensity of the game ever again.”
As a result, Gibbons switched his focus and transferred across town to Evangel’s then-sister school, Central Bible College. “Knowing I couldn’t play, I decided to throw myself into ministry preparation there.”
As a junior, he began serving as youth pastor to a handful of students at what was then a new little church on the south side of Springfield called James River Assembly.
During his 20 years of service there, he grew with the church and is now a nationally known speaker on youth culture and ministry. When he left James River in the fall of 2013, there were 1,300 students in his youth group.
Returning to Evangel to speak
“One of the things I love about Evangel is the strong commitment to academic excellence — EU students are well prepared for their future,” said Gibbons. “At the same time, there is a spiritual depth at Evangel that says, no matter what field you go into, you need to see yourself as a representative of Christ.”
This week, Scotty Gibbons will return to Evangel University, now consolidated with CBC, for his 20-year class reunion.
On Thursday, Oct. 9, at 10 a.m., he will be the featured speaker for Evangel’s homecoming chapel.
“In line with the homecoming theme, Called to Serve, I will share with the students the joy and honor in finding your calling,” he said. “There is adventure and excitement in a life of service, no matter what career path you find yourself on.”
Balancing family life and ministry
Gibbons travels extensively as a church leadership coach, communicator and author. He also serves as the National Youth Strategist for the Assemblies of God and is the author of three books – Carry-On, First Things First, and Overflow.
When he isn’t traveling, you can find him hanging out with his wife of 13 years, Casey, their five daughters and newborn son.
Casey (Hartley) is a former Miss American Teen and a 2001 graduate from Evangel University. She is also the author of A Girl’s Life With God.
“Scotty has a genuine desire and passionate drive to lead young people to Jesus,” said Casey. “He shares this message not only to thousands of teens and young adults, but as a dad to our six children. While no one is perfect, his leadership in the home is consistent, patient and loving, as he teaches Biblical wisdom.”
Although with five daughters, Scotty says having a moment to talk at all, is a miracle!