As I prepare to retire from collegiate ministry and transition to being on church staff, I want to say that it has been a joy to serve within the ABSC (Arkansas Baptist State Convention) and alongside so many loving and giving churches. Having served with three different state conventions solely within the capacity of collegiate ministry for the past 33 years, I have learned a few things. Here are a few reminders and encouragements for churches when it comes to collegiate ministry.
First, collegiate ministry is vital in reaching the most unreached generation of all time! It would be a safe estimate to say that ninety percent of students on our state university campuses are lost. Many of those have most likely never been inside a church and those who have probably have not done so on a consistent basis. There is a tremendous need for the Baptist Collegiate Ministries of the state, alongside the partnership of the local church, to reach our campuses with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) is present and provides a light of hope to students who need to hear the Gospel.
Second, many of the students that do have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ are not grounded in the Bible. The number of students who claim to have a relationship with Christ, who have grown up in the local church, but have not been discipled, has grown significantly over the past years. These students are not prepared to face the realities and temptations of the university campus. This is not meant to be a chastisement of the church, but rather a wake-up call. The BCM is vital in discipling students and helping them become grounded in their faith. Through discipleship groups, mentoring leaders, and teaching students to disciple other students, discipleship is foundational within the BCM.
Third, the BCM is vital when it comes to developing leaders. Part of the core identity of the BCM is that the BCM is student-led. It is almost impossible for the campus minister to do all the ministry of the BCM. It is imperative that students are developed into leaders who can take on key leadership roles to help with this endeavor. As a result, students are being prepared to be future church leaders, leaders within the community, and even vocational ministers. God is calling students out of the BCM into vocational ministry to serve as pastors, youth leaders, music leaders, and discipleship pastors within many of our local churches.
Fourth, the BCM is vital when it comes to involving students in missions. Whether it is partnering with local churches, the ABSC, NAMB (North American Mission Board), or the IMB (International Mission Board), the BCM is active in mobilizing students in the area of missions. In addition to the traditional spring break mission trips and the trips overseas in May, many students are choosing to serve longer terms such as for a semester or up to two years with our sending agencies. These students tend to seize the opportunity to serve as full time missionaries, as they catch a vision and call from God by serving on these mission projects. Missions enables them to see what God is doing beyond their local borders.
So, the BCM is vital in being an arm of the local church to accomplish the enormous task of ministering to college students. In states where the BCM has been removed from their state conventions, a huge void has been created in reaching students.
It has been a privilege to serve within a convention that not only supports the BCM, but highly values it. Thank you, Arkansas Baptists, for your support and encouragement over the years in working with the BCM to transform the lives of students!