The BCM President's Statement
is being provided to help answer questions about the future of collegiate ministry.
Sydney Stikeleather is president of the UNC-Charlotte Baptist Campus Ministry, as well as president of the statewide North Carolina Baptist Campus Ministry. This message was sent to student leaders involved in Baptist Campus Ministry across North Carolina on May 22, and is being shared here with Syndey's permission:
Hello! You are receiving this email because you are a statewide BCM leader or staff advisor, or you are someone who has taken a special interest in BCM changes occurring statewide. If you don't want to be on this list anymore or you know someone who didn't get this email but would like to receive future correspondance, please reply and let me know!
This is a really long email, so don't try to read while driving, crossing the street, standing in line at Starbucks, or really doing anything other than sitting down and focusing.
I have had the pleasure of meeting most of you in person, but for those of you I don't know, I am Sydney Stikeleather. I am the President of NC BCM for the 2013-2014 school year, as well as the President of the UNC Charlotte BCM. Because of my position as State President, I am also an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors.
Most of you are aware that the Board of Directors met at Caraway this week to discuss the new Strategy and Restructure plans and vote on whether or not to approve those plans. I had the privilege of attending this meeting along with another BCM student, Patrick Austin. I'd like to share with you what I learned at the meeting and some of my thoughts moving forward.
The first of two meetings that Patrick and I attended was the Evangelization Committee meeting. Patrick and I were able to share with the Committee Members some of the ways that BCM has impacted our lives and some of the things we are doing moving forward to share the Gospel on our campuses. I think it was effective in helping those Board Members understand the importance of our ministry and the effect that BCM has on students' lives.
The second meeting we attended was the General Session of the Board of Directors. At this meeting, Dr. Milton Hollifield walked us through the new Strategy Plan, and the Restructure Plan that supports it. The Strategy and Restructure Plans are two different things which were voted on separately. I will attempt to share my understanding of both of those Plans with you.
The new Strategy Plan is titled "Impacting Lostness Through Disciple Making." You can read the document in its entirety here. According to Dr. Hollifield, this Strategy redevelopment has been at least 3-years in the making. That does not mean that they've known these changes would take place for three years and they have been keeping that information intentionally secret. Over the last three years, the Convention has seen the need for a change in how we are reaching lost people in NC. According to Dr. Hollifield's presentation, we are not reaching enough lost people, and those who are being reached are not being effectively discipled. The Plan has evolved through research and prayer into what it is now.
The Strategy Plan addresses two major needs recognized by BSCNC:
- A 5-year strategy to strengthen existing churches and plant new churches in areas of lostness.
- To address and resolve communication issues.
The Plan is centered around Acts 1:8.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV)
The Plan identifies 8 population centers as central areas of lostness in North Carolina: Asheville, Hickory, Charlotte, the Triad, the Triangle, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Greenville.
As college students or people who are invested in college ministry, I hope you recognize that most of these population centers are home to a major college or university.
The vision of this Plan is to "reach people." The Strategy is to "evangelize to all people groups." It is also important to note the Convention's emphasis on evangelism and discipleship working hand-in-hand. The goal is evangelism and discipleship that results in disciples making more disciples.
The key way that all of this works together is through the churches. The Strategy is to empower churches to take charge of more ministries in their communities in order to more effectively disciple believers. Instead of the Convention directly providing ministries (such as BCM), the new Strategy will empower churches to take on those ministries. Because it will be controlled on a local rather than statewide level, ministries can be tailored to fit the specific needs of that area.
The next item of discussion was the Restructure Plan. The Restructure focuses specifically on personnel changes that the Convention feels are necessary to support the new Strategy Plan. You can view the new organizational structure chart here.
The main change here comes from the elimination of campus ministers employed by the Convention on college campuses. Based on the sentiments I have received from many of you (as well as my personal feelings), this is the area that seems to have caused the most confusion, hurt and anger. In lieu of full-time campus ministers, three Strategist positions have been created for each region of the state (western, central, eastern). The role of these strategists will be to make sure each campus in their region has a BCM presence on campus in some form. They will accomplish this by partnering with churches near the campuses to have them take on the role of facilitating BCM.
Through much prayer, discussion and careful consideration, the Executive Board of Directors unanimously approved the decision to move forward with both the Strategy and Restructure plans on April 11th. The Plans were both discussed at length, and approved (not unanimously but by an overwhelming majority) by the Board of Directors last night.
Many of you wrote letters to the Board of Directors expressing your concerns. I would like to thank you for that. The letters and emails that were addressed generally to the Board of Directors (not a specific person) were printed, copied, and distributed to each member of the Board before discussion of the Restructure began. You words eloquently expressed the concerns we have about this plan, and I know it impacted several Board Members.
Several of you have expressed specific questions and concerns that I feel have received indirect or inconclusive answers. While many things remain to be determined regarding this plan and our ministry moving forward, several of your questions were addressed last night.
- What will happen to our properties (houses, office space, etc.)?
This was one of the first questions asked of Dr. Hollifield last night, and he assured us that there are no plans in place to sell any of the campus properties owned by the Convention. It was my impression that the Board recognizes the importance of having physical meeting space on or near campus, and this is not a privilege they would take away lightly.
- What about Fall Convention/Spring Conference/Summer Missions?
I asked Dr. Hollifield this particular question after the meeting last night, and he assured me that all statewide programs will continue as planned. Campus Ministry still has allocated money in the state budget for programs such as these.
- Why are they canceling BCM?
In short, they are not trying to cancel BCM. They want to see it continue as much as we do. Dr. Hollifield said several times during the meeting that if this plan is ineffective, things will change again. He said he will not let Baptist Campus Ministry die in NC.
The main thing I took away from this meeting is that none of these people want to see campus ministry end. They recognize the need of the Gospel on campus and they want to spread God's love in the most efficient and effective way possible. Our role moving forward will be to help them understand what that looks like on our campuses. There are many different approaches we can take on each campus, and one approach won't work for everybody. No one understands your campus and your students better than you. You are a vital part of the success of BCM in the future.
Yes, it's true. We will not have Campus Ministers employed by the State Convention in the future. It will be a huge adjustment for all of us. I know many of us, myself included, feel as though we are losing dear friends, mentors and family members in losing our Campus Ministers. We reflect upon the impact that our Campus Ministers have had in our lives and wonder how our college experiences and walks with Christ would be different without that discipleship provided by them. We are concerned for students just beginning their college careers and how they will receive this new structure. In all of these things, I must ask you to do one of the most difficult things us sinful, selfish, prideful human beings can do: let go and trust God.
I hope this provides some clarity to the changes we are facing. These are certainly challenging times, but I know that the strong group of leaders that God has blessed us with right now (that's you) are fully capable of handling this, adapting your ministry, and reaching more people with the hope of the Gospel than ever before.
It is my prayer that as student leaders, you will step up to tackle these changes. It is my prayer that churches close to your campuses will feel the call to take campus ministry on as their responsibility to the Kingdom of God. It is my prayer that this transition will be smooth, communication will be open, and God will be glorified.
Moving forward with the summer and coming school year, it is more important than ever before that you as student leaders recruit new members at Orientation, Move-In Days, Welcome Weeks, etc. It is critical that you have a good attitude about the future of BCM. Your peers will follow your example. BCM will not end without your permission. I urge you, brothers and sisters in Christ, do not let a challenge like this one turn into defeat. I am excited about the future of BCM. I am excited to see churches take a stronger role in the lives of our students. I am excited to see more students in churches. More than anything, I am excited to see what God has in store for all of us.
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
The most helpful thing you can do right now is pray. Pray for our leaders to have the wisdom that can only come from God. Pray for guidance as they make decisions. Pray that they will be receptive to new ideas and flexible in their planning. Pray that we as students will be open to these changes and make room for the Holy Spirit to move on our campuses. Pray that we will listen to God's voice as he calls us to make disciples on our campuses. Pray for students returning to campus in August, that they will find a place to be poured into and grow closer to God. Pray for the new positions created in campus ministry. Pray that God will call the right people to those positions and that they would be receptive to that call. Pray for our campus ministers as they enter the last year of their jobs as they know it. Pray that they too will be flexible and receptive. Pray that they find new jobs that utilize their many gifts and glorify God. Pray for stability and security for their families during this time of transition.
I have explained my understanding of the approved Plans to the best of my knowledge, but if there are any corrections, clarifications or additional comments that need to be made, I invite Dr. Hollifield or Dr. Davis (copied) to "reply all" to this email.
Please know that I am here to help you in any way I can. If you have any questions, concerns, or just want to discuss this further, please don't hesitate to contact me.