As the new director of CollegeLife (the college group of Denton Bible Church), Shea Sumlin’s goal is to move students out of mediocrity and into the current of a lifetime of ministry. With 500–800 regularly attending functions, Shea’s opportunity to impact lives is exceptional.
He came to Dallas Seminary to be trained for this position, and he has worked hard the past 3 years on his M.A./CE degree, which he will finish in January.
“My training at Seminary has prepared me like nothing else could have,” he said.
Shea was born in Chicago, but at the age of three, when his parents divorced he moved to Richardson, TX. His first church experience was at the age of 15 with a friend at a youth group lock-in.
“He sold me on the fact that there would be all-night basketball and lots of girls, so I went.”
Shea made some good friends that night, and the chaperones caught on quickly that he wasn’t a Christian. The following Sunday everyone at the lock-in went to Sunday school together and the topic was how to have quiet times.
“Someone asked me where I had my quiet time, and I told them that I had mine in the shower, because I didn’t know what a quiet time was!”
While he walked away with a new understanding of a personal relationship with God, he wasn’t yet ready to start his own. Eventually Shea’s name reached the Evangelism Explosion program with that church. He avoided them as long as he could, but eventually a team showed up at his doorstep—that night he accepted Christ.
He lived the next three years of his life in the youth group with Christian friends. Then he graduated and went to Denton, to the University of North Texas. Shea quickly got involved in Sigma Nu fraternity, just as his two brothers and his stepfather had.
“As soon as I walked into the frat house I was pretty famous because everyone knew my brothers. I think I was overwhelmed a little bit with pride.”
He was elected pledge class president, and after a couple months Shea started struggling with his faith. Then he met with a guy from Campus Crusade for Christ who challenged him to use his faith in the fraternity. So he slowly started to sharpen his spiritual disciplines and integrity and build his witness.
Shea started a Bible study in his fraternity that began with no attendees. Eventually, after much prayer, a friend came to the study and became a Christian. They partnered and before Shea graduated over 100 people had attended the Bible study, and about a dozen of his fraternity brothers became brothers in Christ.
During this time, Shea was also an active part of Denton Bible Church and CollegeLife.
“That’s where I learned about discipleship, how to study and teach the Bible, and how to share my faith. All this changed the direction of my life. I found out that there’s more than just having a Savior—there’s a purpose that my Savior has given me. That altered what I was going to college for.”
After six and a half years of college, Shea finally graduated and went through Tom Nelson’s discipleship program, and then Dallas Seminary.
Before his college years were up, though, Shea met a person who has changed his life. At a Campus Crusade meeting in 1995, Shea met Tiffany. They were just friends for three years, but he started to notice her service and her heart for evangelism. Tiffany entered a women’s discipleship program, in which the women can’t date until they graduate one year later.
“This was a good opportunity for me to have pure motives and just get to know her better. By the end of that year I was going crazy about her.”
As soon as she graduated from the program, they started dating. Eight months later, they got engaged, and five months after that, on June 10, 2000, they got married. Shea and Tiffany are now expecting a baby May 28th.
His job and passion right now is his ministry with CollegeLife.
“As long as I can be effective in leading the ministry as a whole, and connecting with 18-20 year olds, then I’m going to stick with this. But I don’t know many 50 year olds that can still connect with college students, so I know there will be an end to this.”
He doesn’t know what God has for him in the future, although he hopes to work with men’s ministry. He has in mind two books that he would love to write and get published: Mack, Monk, or Marriage? and Men of Infection.
“And these book ideas are not so much so I can say that I wrote a book, but just journal entries that can hopefully challenge some guys.”
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.