Seeing the college campus as a mission field

October 26, 2020

Though many churches are rightly concerned about graduating high school students and college students in the church family keeping their faith, another important aspect of college ministry is reaching non-Christian college students with the gospel. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSCNC) Collegiate Partnerships team calls this the “keeping and reaching” mandate of local churches.

North Carolina has approximately 1 million college students enrolled in private, state and community colleges. Of these students, however, one-third do not participate in religious activities. Many of the remaining two-thirds are cultural Christians who rarely attend church.

On a national level, 57% of those aged 18-22 are enrolled in a two-year or four-year college. Our college campuses are filled with students who have no connection to a church or a relationship with Jesus Christ. The college campus is a mission field. These students must be reached.

But to reach these students, churches need to have a missions mentality. Here are some missions frames that the Collegiate Partnerships team uses when consulting with churches about college students.

Our college campuses are filled with students who have no connection to a church or a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Context
When reaching a mission field, one must know the context. Missionaries need to know the languages, people groups and culture of the region they are trying to reach. So it is with colleges. Churches reaching colleges need to know the types of students there, the patterns they have and the culture of that campus. There is a broad college culture for most students, but reaching students also means knowing the context of specific students at a specific campus. The more one knows about specific colleges and students, the better.

People groups
Once missionaries know the general context of the culture, they can specialize on a subgroup of that culture. College culture is a subculture of American culture, but they also have different subgroups on campus. These subgroups can be students in specific degree programs, affinity groups or sports teams. Having a plan for a specific subgroup can help a church specialize in reaching those students. Planning for a subgroup can also help churches focus on a manageable goal. Trying to reach the whole campus may seem undoable. But focusing on a smaller part of the campus can be more manageable.

Longevity
Reaching students on the college campus is not an easy task. Students live with pressures and distractions from work, classes, social media and the freedom to explore who they are. A church needs to know that it will take time and patience on its part to enter into the college culture to make a difference. Churches need to think long-term in their planning and have the commitment to keep pressing into the campus even when it may seem fruitless.

Partnership
Sometimes a missionary or church needs a partner to help start or strengthen a mission work. Getting data, ideas and demographics from an outside source can help save frustration and fruitless hours. Being connected to others working on a similar mission can be encouraging and helpful. This is where the Collegiate Partnerships team can assist churches.

The Collegiate Partnerships team partners with churches by helping them: understand their local college context; find a model of ministry that is right for them; find and utilize collegiate resources; and network with other churches doing collegiate ministry. Our team is excited about helping churches reach college students. We would love to assist in creating a strategy to reach college students in your context.


Tom Knight
Collegiate Partnerships  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

9 ways to prepare families (and churches) to worship with children

As we slowly ease out of quarantine, many of us are excited to head back to our church campuses. While we have been grateful for online worship services, nothing can compare to worshipping together with our brothers and sisters. However, there will still be some restrictions and...

5 things churches should do differently in 2021

As I am writing this article, I was notified that my grandson, Joshua, had broken his ankle. My granddaughter, Collins, broke her arm this year. My son, Sam, broke his leg a month ago. And my wife, Nellie Jo, broke her wrist earlier this year.   That’s four different Rainer...

So you’re a follower of Jesus: ‘Now What?’

I vividly remember the season when I decided to give up running and join a gym. Up until then I had been an avid runner and enjoyed it. It was a great stress reliever for me, but I didn’t have much physical strength — I was weak and I wanted to change that.    I remember going to...

Finding God’s ‘shells of grace’ in our western culture

The 2016 Disney Pixar film “Finding Dory” details the life of a blue tang fish named Dory who deals with short-term memory loss. The animated movie explores complex issues such as mental health, the power of community, and the interplay between humans and wildlife.    One theme...

Considering a strategic vision for digital engagement

There is a difference between using something and leveraging something. You can use money to buy things you may or may not need. But that does not equate to leveraging it. Leveraging money as an investment could double or triple the initial investment. Using takes something at...

The beauty of adoption

Mom and dad never called me their adopted son. I was just their son. I was born into an unfortunate situation, but I was adopted into a blessed family. In 1966, adoption was not as highlighted in the American church as it is today. In the spring of 1998, I was a seminary student...

5 areas where pastors can grow in the new year

In the optometry profession, 20/20 means clarity or sharpness of vision.    For most people, the year 2020 was anything but clear. In fact, 2020 was as unclear as a year could be because of the repercussions of COVID-19, especially if you are leading in ministry as a pastor.   ...

NC mountain man returns home to plant new church

People say if you live in the North Carolina mountains, they’ll always call you back.   For Michael Childers, that’s pretty much what happened. Except it was God who called him back, not the hills, he says.   Drive to Brevard over in western North Carolina, and then head out of...

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay connected by signing up for the N.C. Baptist monthly newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!