This article was written by Lynn Loyd. Loyd serves on the College + Young Leaders Team for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. He and his wife Rebecca live in Fayetteville, AR.
Arkansas college and university students are strategic to the spread of the Gospel through missions and church planting because they are in the most “send-able” stage of their lives. Put another way: the Arkansas university campuses are not only our most strategic mission fields but our greatest mission agencies.
Over the past 10 years (prior to COVID), Baptist Collegiate Ministries and church-based collegiate ministries in Arkansas have mobilized over 1200 college students annually for missions and church planting support. International missions, North American missions, Disaster Relief, One Day missions, and summer camps are all fueled and powered by college students.
If anything, college students bring enthusiasm and energy to areas of service. A national study conducted by the marketing firm Sparks & Honey indicated that 60 percent of Generation Z want to have an impact on their world and that 26 percent are currently volunteering in a non-profit.
How do we capture this next generation for the cause of Christ and global impact? Here are a few guidelines that might help fuel this movement.
First, focus on discipleship and not programs. It begins with churches and collegiate ministries that are willing to pour deeply into the lives of college students. Discipleship is highly relational and intentional about spiritual development. Discipleship with a missional emphasis moves students toward obedience and service. Missionaries are not born, they are formed. Hadley, a former ASU student, and two-year Journeyman put it this way, “I just needed to be reminded that our God loves people of all nations and has invited us to join Him in sharing the good news with people who have yet to hear.”
Next, provide some missional opportunities. From across the street to across the world the opportunities are endless to serve. Semester missionary and OBU student Ansley said, “A summer or longer serving in missions will change your life perspective forever.” Partnering with the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) in your region is strategic to helping students have opportunities to enter a missions pipeline. To connect with a BCM go to cylarkansas.com or contact Jonda Shikle in the College + Young Leaders (CYL) office at 501-376-4791 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alongside these opportunities, intentional conversations are needed to encourage and support God’s leading in students’ lives. Whether a call to a longer term of missional service or a call to leverage your skill set in the workplace, we all are called to fulfill the Great Commission.
J. D. Greear said it this way, “At our church, we tell students: God made you good at something. Whatever it is, do it well to the glory of God, and do it somewhere strategic for the mission of God.” For this purpose, the CYL Team at the ABSC has developed the ArGo2 portal. This website will help collegians connect with Arkansas agencies, the International Mission Board, and the North American Mission Board.
ArGo2.org will provide contact with area BCM Campus Ministers for continued conversations and support in a student’s quest to follow Christ. Bruce Venable, CYL Team Leader, said, “ArGo2 is just part of the way we mobilize college and university students to share Christ around the world. Every place of service represents the opportunity to share the name of Jesus.” Search at ArGo2.org.
Finally, let’s celebrate! We tend to replicate what we celebrate. Celebrating what is important and valued will cause a shift in the DNA of a church and BCM ministry. Telling the stories of college students who are choosing to be obedient in following Christ should be celebrated. Visibly and verbally celebrating what God is doing in the lives of college students will propel other students toward ministry and missions.
Regularly scheduled opportunities to show a video, share a testimony or even have a commissioning service will bring fresh vision and challenge to this next generation of missionaries. Rachel, an ASU grad currently serving overseas, sends this challenge, “Don’t ask yourself why I should go, but ask yourself why shouldn’t I go?”