Campus ministry for the futureby Milton Hollifield, BSCNC Executive Director-Treasurer
As the student population on college and university campuses continues to diversify, so must the approaches used to reach these students with the gospel. An important aspect of the new Convention strategy is the contextualization of ministry efforts. Without question, ministry to students on college campuses is a vital part of the Convention’s new strategy to impact lostness and make disciples.
The new model for collegiate partnerships is best understood within the new Convention strategy, which the Convention’s Executive Committee approved April 11. The strategy is focused on reaching people all across North Carolina with the life-changing message of the gospel. Any attempt to separate the Convention’s collegiate partnership model from the overarching Convention strategy makes the collegiate partnership model difficult to understand. The Convention’s mission is to assist churches in the fulfillment of their divinely appointed mission. The Convention’s vision is to become, “… the strongest force in the history of this Convention for reaching people with the message of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We believe that a new collegiate partnership model will help us best fulfill our new strategy, as well as our Convention’s mission and vision.
North Carolina Baptists must develop more effective ways to reach many students who have no knowledge of Christ and no connection with a church near their campus. The Convention’s new strategy calls for contextualized approaches throughout the Convention’s missions and ministry efforts, providing the opportunity to customize efforts on the numerous campuses across North Carolina in order to maintain a Baptist presence on these campuses. Utilizing partnerships, the Convention will continue seeking to serve, reach, train and mobilize college students in an effort to make disciples who in turn make disciples on their campus and throughout the world. For this reason, final details of the new model of campus ministry, known as collegiate partnerships, are not complete; however, the framework for the new model is in place and work continues.
One component of the Convention strategy is focused on reaching the lost in the high concentration areas of our state. College and university communities are home to large concentrations of people who do not know Jesus as their Savior; therefore, fulfillment of the Convention’s strategy will require increasing our efforts to assist churches in reaching college students.
Currently, the Convention has only 9 full time campus ministry positions located on 9 campuses. In addition, the Convention partners with churches and associations to provide ministry on 15 other campuses. Yet, there are more than 100 additional campuses in our state where young people are not being engaged by North Carolina Baptists in missions and ministry. In order to reach students on the campuses of the numerous colleges and universities across the state, a new strategy is being developed. It is the responsibility of churches to develop an Acts 1:8 missions strategy that includes efforts to reach the students on campuses near them. The Convention is positioned to assist in this mission as an extension of local Baptist churches, but the Convention does not replace the local churches.
Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM), as an organization, will continue in the new strategy. The new strategy will support BCM efforts of evangelism, disciple-making, missions mobilization and leadership development. BCM will continue to provide leadership conferences, including work with international students, under the guidance of the Convention’s collegiate partnerships staff.
Essential aspects of the current approach to campus ministry will continue in the new collegiate partnerships. Currently we are engaged in leadership development, and we have no intention to move away from this effort. Leadership conferences now enjoyed by students and other leadership training opportunities will continue in the new model.
In addition, we are currently engaged in missionary opportunities and we have no intention to move away from this effort. The summer missionary experiences that are an essential part of the current ministry will be an essential part of the new strategy as well. The goal is to expand and increase the mobilization of college students across the state in missionary efforts.
For the present, campus ministry facilities owned by the Baptist State Convention will continue to be used for operation of the Convention’s campus ministry outreach. Their usefulness in collegiate partnerships will be evaluated in the future as the local strategy teams determine the most effective ways to reach, disciple, train and mobilize students and leaders for missions and ministry.
With more than 5.8 million lost people in our state, we must continue working together to see the gospel advanced throughout North Carolina. We believe that through this new strategy, and a new collegiate partnerships model, we will see more students than ever before reached with the gospel, discipled and mobilized for ministry.