LOUISVILLE – As college students serve in the local church through worship, children’s ministry, drama and a host of other ways, congregations around the commonwealth are learning how valuable a partnership with Kentucky Baptist Campus Ministry can be.
At Crosspoint Church in Morehead, which launched in 2008, several members of the leadership team are alumni of nearby Morehead State University and its campus ministry. BCM students also served as the worship band initially, and students who have met Christ through the church now attend the BCM to help spur their Christian growth.
Thanks in part to students’ help, the church grew to 1,000 people in attendance last year.
“Crosspoint and the BCM work together,” Morehead State Campus Missionary Gene Parr said. “It’s just the Lord’s work. It’s not something that we set as our agenda, but Crosspoint is reaping some of the students in which we’ve been planting seeds. At the same time, there are some students that become Christians on the campus that are just drawn to Crosspoint.”
Synergy between church plants and BCMs is a story that has been repeated in Murray, Frankfort and Lexington, according to KBC Collegiate Evangelism Strategist Brian Combs.
“I’m continually encouraged to see more local churches engaging college campuses and utilizing BCM as the great resources that it is,” Combs said.
It’s a natural partnership, according to Parr, because BCMs “are producing students that God can use in new and creative ways. We’re also producing students that want to be a part of it when they see God doing something new and relevant.”
Church plants complement the discipleship efforts of BCMs, according to Jessie Litkenhus, a student at Murray State University and intern at The Journey church, a congregation that meets on the Murray State campus.
At The Journey, Litkenhus and other students have opportunities to be mentored by adult believers, she said, something that’s not always possible at a BCM, where ministry is largely peer led.
“I visited many of the campus ministries and the organizations that were on campus,” she said. “But when I found The Journey, (adults) that were wiser were definitely there to mentor me.”
Matt Johnson, pastor of The Journey, said Kentucky college campuses need church plants and BCMs working together. Before launching The Journey in 2005, he learned that fewer than 500 of the 10,000 college students in Calloway County attended church anywhere.
About 120 people, most of them students, attended the congregation’s first official service. Today The Journey has nearly 400 in worship when classes are in session.
“I was heavily involved in the BCM when I was a student at Murray,” Johnson said. “And I think there is incredible value to the BCM. We work with them and support them in quite a few ways. We view it as having a partnership with them, like a lot of other churches in this area.”
But he added that a campus church presents opportunities for students to use their spiritual gifts, opportunities that are not always available in campus ministries.
“We have college students who are serving on a weekly basis at every level,” Johnson said. “They’re investing in preschoolers every single week. They’re investing in elementary-aged kids. They’re investing in middle- and high schoolers every week. We have some that are using their acting or their speaking abilities.”
Similar church plants have been launched on the campuses of Kentucky State University, Northern Kentucky University and University of Kentucky, Combs said.
“We have a great team of campus missionaries that are passionate about their particular campus or mission field and welcome the opportunity to help even more churches reach Kentucky and their world for Christ,” he said.
Kentucky Baptist collegiate/young adult ministers, or other church leaders interested in learning how to partner with Baptist Campus Ministry, are encouraged to attend this year’s RISK: Changing the Channel conference April 11-12 at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown.
Combs emphasized that the event will be helpful to any congregation, whether they are located in a college town or not.
Online registration will be available soon. Early bird rates are $25 per person through March 31. After April 1, the fee is $45/person.
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Reaching the collegiate and young adult communities in Kentucky will be among the session topics offered at this year’s Risk evangelism conference, Feb. 24-25 at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown. Kentucky Baptists’ gifts through the Cooperative Program make Risk a free event, but registration is required to reserve lunch and for a chance to win an iPad. Learn more and register at www.kybaptist.org/risk.