Going beyond skinny jeans, smoke machines and free hotdogs to reach college students

N.C. BAPTIST PODCAST
May 20, 2020

Reaching college students can seem like a daunting task.

Many churches interested in college ministry can feel overwhelmed at the thought of reaching an entire campus. Or they think they have to create a special worship experience with skinny jeans, smoke machines and free hot dogs to attract college students.

What if someone told churches they didn’t have to feel the pressure of reaching an entire campus, but could instead focus on smaller groups of students?

And that a key to reaching college students involved mobilizing church members who already have natural connections with students on campus instead of creating events that may or may not attract them due to changing dynamics of campus life?

Evan Blackerby and Tom Knight, senior consultants for the Collegiate Partnerships Team of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, addressed these and other topics on an episode of the “No Campus Left” podcast.

Rather than looking at the entire campus, Blackerby and Knight said churches should instead focus on reaching a specific “population cluster,” which is a particular group of students who are connected by common interests like a course of study or activity. Think nursing students, athletes or the drama department.

“There are multiple ways to be involved on the campus,” Knight said. “For me, what really clicked was helping people understand they don’t have to reach the whole campus.”

By thinking and praying through all the different dynamics of reaching college students, the Collegiate Partnerships team developed a resource to help churches engage students, whether they attend large universities, small private colleges or community colleges.

That resource — “Pathways for Collegiate Engagement” or “Pathways” for short — is a tool that defines and describes a six-step process for churches to work through to engage college students near them.

“Your church can reach somebody,” Blackerby said. “That’s the idea with ‘Pathways.’”

By using the “Pathways” tool, churches can discover that by focusing on the few, they can reach the many.

Check out the “Pathways” resource, and listen to the podcast, where you’ll learn more about:

  • Why churches shouldn’t feel pressure to reach an entire campus.
  • Why you don’t have to attract college students to your church in order to be engaged in campus ministry.
  • The changing dynamics of higher education and the implications of ministering to college students.
  • How to think about segments of a campus population that are manageable for your church to reach.
  • Identifying people in your church who already are equipped to reach college students.
  • How to implement the six steps in the “Pathways” resource.

For more information on how the Collegiate Partnerships Team can assist your church in developing a strategy to reach college students near you, contact the team by email at [email protected] or phone at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5574.


by BSCNC Communications

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