Criswell News

Criswell Graduate Goes from Student to Servant

Kendall Lyons | December 22, 2021

Criswell graduate Jeff Fair visited Criswell College in 2000, attended a special chapel, sat through two courses, and concluded that Criswell College was the place for him.

“My time at Criswell College began in the fall of 2002. I graduated in 2006 with a BA in Biblical Studies. My first experience on campus in 2000 included a special chapel service, two classes: Dr. Metts and (then) Professor Spencer, and great interactions with faculty and students that lit the fire and stirred my heart to attend. From the first moment I walked on campus, I knew that I was supposed to be part of that culture and future impact,” Fair said.

Fair grew up in the church, but Criswell College helped shape his view on ministry, and his personal relationship with God.

“At the age of 18, I had been raised in a family very involved in ministry and around church my entire life. This was a positive for me, but my self-righteousness led me to approach the Bible, ministry, and the church as very familiar but, unknowingly, with much room for humility. The holistic approach to the grand narrative of Scripture and Christocentric truths I learned at Criswell College changed my life. I learned to love the Word of God and to be a forever student in my time of interacting with professors and learning to interact with God and His Word. Each class I took shaped me. Some of the shapings hurt my inner man but made me look more like Jesus,” Fair said.

While attending Criswell, Fair and his wife Lori served the institution and were asked to reach out to others interested in a Christian education. As more opportunities came, the more bold Fair and Lori had to be, trusting God with a new direction.

“My wife, Lori, joined me at Criswell in the spring of 2005 after taking a break in the fall of 2004 to get married. We attended Criswell together due to a brand new scholarship program involving us leading worship in chapel and representing the school at conferences and events. Through this opportunity, I was able to finish my degree in 2006. We grew close to many professors and students and continue in some of those relationships to date. In the fall of 2006, I began working toward a Master’s degree as Lori continued courses toward her BA in Counseling. We began serving part-time on a pastoral staff team in 2005, but one of our most difficult decisions was placed before us in the spring of 2007. I cashed in my relational chips and asked four professors to weigh in on an opportunity to serve full-time in a church in Florida. We would not be with family, not involved in music ministry as we had known and been the most comfortable with from young ages. It was all new, but I had received incredible training and preparation from my time learning to preach the Word and lead people. (Then) Professor Joe Wooddell spoke words of insight into me and helped me think as a man looking to build and provide for my family. While they didn’t tell us to leave Criswell, they all gave godly counsel toward our decision. We ended up finishing our time at Criswell and began serving as the High School Pastor at Aloma Church in Winter Park, FL, in May of 2007. We just moved back to Texas, serving at Great Hills in Austin as our third assignment serving in full-time ministry in 15 years. We now have four children and are in the process of adopting a fifth.

“The Gospel, family, discipleship, and singing play major roles in our heartbeat. We find great passion in the Word of God and the life change that it brings about in broken people. Criswell College continues to play a major role in our ministry and life,” Fair said.

Criswell College admits students who are Christians of good character, without regard or reference to race, national or ethnic origin, color, age, disability, or sex (except where regard to sex is required by the College’s religious tenets regarding gender and sexuality) to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of these classifications in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and other school-administered programs.