After an exam week has concluded, seminary faculty member Dr. Karl Stelzer (Ph.D. Biblical Studies ’01) reaches for a spiral-bound notebook on his desk. Despite being the academic advisor to more than 50 pastoral students, he could turn to a page with handwritten notes about each of them. “I have a computer, but I’m 73, so I use a notebook,” he said with a smile. “I keep tabs on their grades and their attendance and try to encourage and challenge them.” During difficult moments of the semester, he’ll write encouraging emails to those struggling.
Those in Dr. Stelzer’s circle of influence know that discipleship and mentorship are important to him. In his early years as a youth pastor, he chose 2 Timothy 2:1–2 to be the peg on which he hung his ministry. “Youth ministry is preparing young people with truth so that they can have an impact on other people’s lives,” he said.
“Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”—2 Timothy 2:1–2
After serving for 20 years as a pastor in Indiana and Ohio, Dr. Stelzer knew God was calling him and his wife, Debbie, somewhere else. With their sights set on Haiti or Liberia, they applied to candidate school through Baptist Mid-Missions, a missions agency based in Cleveland, Ohio. Soon after being accepted, Debbie encountered some health problems. The doctors told them that they could not live in a third-world country. “It was God’s way of saying, ‘I don’t want you here,’” Dr. Stelzer said. Regardless of what God had for them, the Stelzers were willing to follow Him—as a family. Long before this seeming setback, they had chosen part of Joshua 24:15 as the verse for their home.
“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”—Joshua 24:15
Not long after the Stelzers had been told to stay in the United States, a Bible faculty position opened at the academy where their children were enrolled. “I’ve never gone out to seek any ministry,” Dr. Stelzer said. “Every step of the way, we were just faithful where we were but open to God’s leading to the next step.”
As Dr. Karl Stelzer served faithfully in Ohio, he began working on a doctorate at PCC. While taking a class in 1997, Dr. Greg Mutsch, one of his professors, encouraged him to consider teaching at the College. While Dr. Stelzer had originally planned on remaining in Ohio, he accepted the offer after some prayer and consideration. “I enjoy preaching,” he said. “But teaching is what God has really gifted me with.”
Still burdened by a desire to disciple others, Dr. Stelzer started a group called More into Less. “Jesus had His ministry to the multitude, but He poured more into less—the disciples,” he said. Except for a short hiatus during the pandemic, Dr. Stelzer has been discipling groups of five to eight seminary students for years. He meets with the young men once a week and leads them through the Beatitudes from Matthew 5, principles for leadership, and prayer. “[It’s] pouring more into faithful men, so that they can pour into others,” he said.
This fall, Dr. Stelzer will have been teaching at PCC for 25 years. Studying his Bible and one-on-one instruction are two of the most important things to him as a teacher. “It’s being there and connecting with the students and being able to open this book and help them to understand,” he said. “That’s the icing on the cake to me.”
Throughout his life, Dr. Stelzer has chosen key verses for each season. A couple of years ago, he decided to add one more. He had suffered three strokes and wasn’t sure if his ministry would continue. As he recovered, God revealed His plan a little bit more to him. “[The strokes] were God’s reminder [that] He’s not done with me yet,” he said. “It was around that time that God led me to Isaiah 40:31.”
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”—Isaiah 40:31
Dr. Karl Stelzer’s favorite biblical figure, Caleb, is a perfect example of someone who faithfully followed God. Caleb stood with Joshua against the multitudes and later conquered a mountain at 80 years old. Throughout his life, Dr. Stelzer has followed God’s leading and been willing to stand with other faithful men. As he continues to serve his Savior, he is open to any mountains that God could put in his life. “If I live till I’m 80, and there’s a mountain, I’m going to claim it for the Lord,” he said. “I’m going to do it for His glory.”
Read more about how God is directing and working through PCC faculty and alumni.