An Interview With Mike Cavanaugh, President Of Elim Bible Institute And College

Mike Cavanaugh, President Of Elim Bible Institute And College
Mike Cavanaugh, President Of Elim Bible Institute And College

Elim Bible Institute and CollegeBy Jennifer Lamey

The Good News had an opportunity to interview Mike Cavanaugh, President of Elim Bible Institute and College about a typical year at Elim and some exciting new opportunities for students this coming year.

The Good News: How is the experience at Elim Bible Institute and College different from other Christian colleges?

Mike Cavanaugh: Elim’s central focus is the spiritual formation of the student. We are preparing students to be leaders in nonprofit organizations, touching some of the neediest people. Pastoral ministry, youth ministry, missions work, and worship leadership are some of the areas that our students pursue. Though our academic standards are high, our students are spiritually challenged to grow through many aspects of the Elim Experience. Let me give you what a typical student experiences during one year at Elim looks like:

Every student will study through the whole Bible in a year during class time. In their first month at school, they will attend our Foundations Weekend where each student addresses the following four issues for their life. First, have they committed to the lordship of Jesus Christ? Second, have they been baptized in water since they believed? Third, have they been baptized in the Holy Spirit and are they comfortable with spiritual gifts? Lastly, have they experienced the release from bondages that might be holding back their spiritual life? Last year 18 students were baptized in water and over 20 found a fresh release in spiritual gifts! This gets the student started on the right foundation, so as they spend time in the Word, growth is magnified.

In October we have Missions Emphasis Week. We have speakers who have worked in many nations around the world share their experiences during this week. The week ends with the ETHNOS Conference, where the students have an opportunity to wrestle with the question, “Could God want me to make an impact in the nations for Him?” Many tears are shed as God begins to give students a heart for the world.

The majority of our students participate in helping to lead the Saturate Youth Conference, where a thousand young people gather to be inspired in their walk in with Christ. Top quality speakers from around the nation combined with cutting edge music gives our students the chance to experience Christ in a culturally relevant way. Many of the students get practical ministry experience by helping to run this great event.

In January we have Prayer Week and all classes cease. For 5 days the students meet from 8:30 in the morning to 9 at night to be challenged through dynamic speaking, and extended times of prayer and worship. This experience is life changing as God takes the hours that have been spent studying the Bible and starts to make it alive in the student’s lives. Many say that it is the most impacting week of their lives.

In March we have our Prophetic Presbytery time when leaders with confirmed prophetic gifts lay their hands on our seniors and speak a prophetic word over their lives. Through participating in this all of our students become more comfortable and experienced in the use of spiritual gifts which builds up their confidence that God can empower them in whatever they are called to do in the future.

Beyond these spiritual growth events every student also experiences weekly student ministries where they serve in churches and care ministries throughout the Rochester area. Every student also gives 2 hours a week to serve in ministries on campus enhancing their practical work experience. Virtually all of our students also will experience from 3 to 6 weeks of urban outreach ministry in New York City. This experience covers everything from preaching in churches, feeding the hungry, ministering to AIDS victims, and more.  All of this investment in those who attend here is beyond what happens in the classroom and almost daily chapels.

I know of no other experience that a Christian young adult can have that will supercharge their spiritual lives more than a year at Elim Bible Institute and College.


The Good News: You mentioned that your academic standards are high. Are you accredited?

Mike Cavanaugh: For years Elim Bible Institute and College has had a high academic standard but now we are fully accredited. Our students are also able to receive both federal and state financial aid. Students also have subsidized student loans available to them. We work to keep our school extraordinarily affordable because we are training our students for leadership in the non-profit world. Our accreditation is with TRACS (Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools), a national accrediting agency for Christian institutions, colleges and seminaries.

The Good News: What kind of Degrees do you offer?

Mike Cavanaugh: We currently have two certificates and one degree that a student can receive while attending Elim. There is a 1-year program called “Launch” that leads to a certificate. Everything I’ve described above is included in this program. A student can also receive a 2-year associate degree from the New York State Board of Regents and finally for a student who stays all 3 years there is an additional certificate called the Applied Ministry Certificate that is focused on the practical aspects of ministry. At the conclusion of this they can receive credentials from a reputable ministerial association.

We are currently working to establish a 4-year bachelor’s degree which we hope to begin in fall 2019. This is dependent on receiving permission from New York State and our accrediting association.


The Good News: What are you most excited about right now?

Mike Cavanaugh: I’m really excited that this fall we are beginning adult online classes which will open a lot of flexibility for our students. When our bachelor’s degree is approved it will mean that many past students will be able to complete their bachelors with us online. It will also open the way for church leaders to take advantage of the Elim experience when they are already active in ministry and going away to school is just not a possibility. I’m also excited because we are giving away 5 scholarships to 5 international students who are recommended by our former students who are now serving as missionaries. We want to see the Elim connection continue in needy nations around the world.


The Good News: You mentioned several times some of the practical ministry experiences people have at Elim? Tell us more.

Mike Cavanaugh: Over half of our students participate in work study on campus to help pay for school which is very practical work experience. All of our students are required to give 2 hours every week to work on campus in jobs as varied as taking out the trash, shoveling snow, and office work. Our students often volunteer to work on the conferences we hold on campus. This gives them an opportunity to be involved with the conferences from conception to implementation which is a fantastic experience. Each student does a weekly student ministry where they serve in churches and ministry organizations throughout the Rochester area. When the students go for internships in New York City they have an opportunity to see and participate in urban ministry at a very high level. We also work with them in classes that help them learn life skills like Personal Finance, Public Speaking, Management for the Christian Leader, and Marriage and the Family. Besides the in-depth Bible study we do, we try and prepare them for life. The simple fact we have learned is that a person could have great spiritual gifts but if they don’t know how to practically live, that gift will never reach its fullest potential.


The Good News: Would you recommend that every Christian young person consider going to Elim for a year?

Mike Cavanaugh: To be honest, I believe every high school student and young adult could benefit from at least a year at Elim Bible Institute and College.

  • They would have time to seek God for His will for their life.
  • They would go through the whole Bible in a year.
  • They would cultivate a world vision.
  • They would experience supernatural power.
  • They would be prepared to stand strong in any future college, career, or ministry.
  • They would see themselves as called of God to church or marketplace ministry.
  • Their credits would build toward a degree.

Elim is about preparing people for life and ministry.

To learn more about Elim please visit


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