CONWAY, Ark. – A new school year brings new opportunities for college outreach programs. Leaders must find ways to engage students within the community and on campus. Baptist Collegiate Ministries are no different. However, many didn’t know what the fall was going to look like thanks to COVID-19.
“Truthfully, we didn’t know what was going to be allowed with large group gatherings in the fall,” Ryan Scantling, Conway BCM minister, said. “But we did know that we could have one-on-one conversations with students.”
They knew on-campus enrollment would probably be down as well, as some students would opt to stay home instead of moving back to Conway for mostly online classes. Scantling said the thought occurred to them that for the first time, it might be possible to engage with every on-campus student at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) with the Gospel using Gospel Appointments.
The idea for Gospel Appointments did not come from Scantling or any other leaders in Conway.
Gospel Appointments have been around for a long time. It’s where Christian students meet up for lunch, coffee, or just to hang out with another student to get to know them and eventually lead them towards a gospel presentation. Their goal was to engage the entire freshman class at UCA, and as many students after that as possible.
Training was held for students right before the semester began in a one-day training event. It still continues as people like Scantling and other staff from the BCM and participating churches attend these appointments to help steer and coach the student leaders.
Scantling said they took every freshmen contact they had and put them into a massive spreadsheet before they divided them up to the student leaders. From there the student leaders were going to get in touch with them and try to set-up a safe and easy meet-up if the student was available and willing.
So far, 100 appointments have been made and achieved with one salvation. Many students, although not yet making a decision for Christ, have been connected to local churches who partnered with Scantling to help reach and engage these students.
While the big picture is ultimately leading these students to Christ, the smaller picture is also just getting to know them and letting them know about the BCM and other Christian ministries around Conway that they can get involved with. They want to make sure they know Jesus, but are also connected with other believers and loved.