New GCU Pastor Trades Racetrack for Life on Campus
By Zane Ewton
“Consistently Available” is the motto for GCU’s new campus pastor, Tim Griffin.
As you speak with Griffin, you hear the word “available” a lot. He is making himself so available to GCU students that he will be moving with his wife, Robin, into the North Rim Apartments on campus.
“My focus is on being present and available for students,” he says. “There is no way I can build relationships from behind my office desk.”
With more than 10 years of experience as the chaplain for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Griffin will be finishing his duties with the last nine races of the season as he begins his tenure at GCU.
He is experienced in what it means to be available, as his “office” was most often a stack of tires to lean on while talking to the drivers, crew and anyone else at the track in need of support.
Griffin, known as “Chappie” at the track, was a presence for the drivers from the moment they pulled into town until the checkered flag on Sunday. His mission was to connect with people.
“Before the race, we would have the driver chapel service,” he says. “It is a unique experience to listen to worship given by some of the best-known Christian artists in the world, give a message to a room full of drivers, media and celebrities, and close it all with a prayer.”
Griffin’s responsibilities included being available for the drivers and their families in the event of injury. He was there on qualifying days, as well. Often, he was the first person at the track early Friday morning for the weekend’s events.
“Qualifiers are a pressure-packed day,” he says. “I did my best to be available and be a source of peace and calm for everyone, to show that God is present in all that we do.”
“Chappie” is looking forward to the opportunity to work with the Campus Life and Spiritual Life staff and student leaders. He believes such teamwork is the only way they will be able to serve the number of new students — about 1,500 — on campus this fall.
“I hope that I can be a source of encouragement for student leaders,” he says. “I pray that I will be faithful to who God gives to me to support and minister to.”
Griffin earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology degree at Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College before settling into positions as associate and senior pastor throughout the 1980s. In 1994, he graduated from Moody Graduate School with a Master of Arts in Ministry degree. He is currently working toward a Doctorate in Religious Studies with Trinity College and Seminary.
He has two children, Taylor and Spencer, who are members of the GCU men’s volleyball team. His marriage to Robin has lasted for 27 years.
“I mentioned at the student leader retreat how long I have been married,” he says. “Twenty-seven years got a huge reaction from the students. That surprised me. I think it says a lot about our students and the values they have.”
Robin is wrapping up her job in Tucson and will be joining Griffin soon in their apartment on campus. Their boys will live in the dorms this year.
Griffin will present at the first chapel of the fall semester on Monday, Aug. 30. He wants to talk on the issue of fear.
“It seems to me with the large number of new students, a lot of them are fearful,” he says. “Even if they are strutting around, deep inside they are worried.”
He plans to use 2 Timothy 1:7 as a starting point: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
For fearful new students, the new campus pastor is right there with them.
“Truth is, I feel as intimidated walking onto this campus as I did the first time I walked into a NASCAR garage,” he says. “I pray for God to show up in a big way, and I expect him to. Something dynamic is going to happen this year.”
Asked how being a campus pastor compares to being a NASCAR chaplain, Griffin says he will treat his new position much the same.
The goal: “Be available.”
Reach Zane Ewton at email@example.com or 602.639.7086.