BEREA–For Berea College missionary Julie Dalton, attending last year’s “Changing the Channel” conference helped her launch the Tates Creek Baptist Association’s campus outreach.
This spring, Dalton plans to take several students to the annual Baptist Campus Ministries-sponsored event to help them learn better ways of reaching their classmates with the gospel.
Also missions director at Gethsemane Baptist in Berea, Dalton had long felt called to missions but wasn’t sure how that would take shape.
“It came full circle at Cedarmore,” said Dalton, a Richmond native who attended several camps at the facility in Bagdad as a child.
“Even though the focus was on how students need to minister on campus and off campus, I got more from praise and worship and seeing how God ministers to them before they even go out.”
Scheduled for Apr. 11-12 at First Baptist Church of Bowling Green, this year’s conference will spotlight affinity evangelism. Among speakers at the main sessions will be Brian Combs, collegiate evangelism strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Other main speakers will be Mike Reagle, associate vice president of campus life at Eastern Kentucky University; Dee Ward, associate pastor of campus ministry at Main Street Baptist Church in Alexandria; and Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta.
In addition, a series of breakout sessions will highlight strategies for reaching people in strategic areas like business, arts and entertainment, government, and media.
“Changing the Channel is a great way to get informed about affinity evangelism,” Combs said. “We had about 250 people last year and would love to see at least 300 this year.”
Last year marked the first time BCM sought to involve Kentucky Baptist church-based ministries, an emphasis it is expanding in 2014.
The collegiate evangelism team will also put a spotlight on campuses at the RISK state evangelism conference Feb. 24-25 at Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown.
Among the speakers for BCM’s breakout sessions at RISK will be Steve Lutz, who ministers to Penn State University students and has written a book about college ministry in a post-Christian culture.
Combs said both conferences will offer opportunities for churches to learn more about reaching young adults in a changing world.
“If churches aren’t close to a campus they can still learn how they can reach out to young adults,” Combs said. “If they want to minister to young adults, they have to engage with them.”
Paul Gibson, University of Louisville campus minister and lead planner for “Changing the Channel,” said main sessions will be brief, with speakers introducing a particular concept.
Then, each will conduct breakout sessions where they will review additional details. Gibson said each speaker has considerable experience in reaching campuses and different societal spheres of influence.
For example, Reagle’s breakout sessions in 2013 were so popular that BCM invited him to be a main speaker this year.
“What I’ve discovered about Mike is he deeply cares about students and his faith informs many decisions,” Gibson said.
“Last year the students saw someone with significant influence making a difference as a Christ-follower at a major university. He brings a wise perspective on what it means to reach a college campus.”
Formerly interim campus minister at the university, Gibson assumed the position fulltime last fall. He hopes to see between 15 and 25 students from his BCM go to Bowling Green.
One of Gibson’s goals is to see closer relationships formed between Louisville students and churches in that city.
The final Friday night session is labeled “Hang Out, Go Out,” and will match BCM participants with church leaders from their respective areas.
“One reason we’re doing this is the conference is not just for BCM but our churches,” Gibson said.
“We think it will help by connecting churches with campus ministries. Hopefully, they can go back with stronger relationships so church members can come on campus and help us reach students.”
Students and church staff members can register online at www.kybcm.org/changingthechannel. Early bird registration costs $25 per person, with a deadline of Mar. 1. After that, the fee is $45, with a registration deadline of April 1.
Prepared by Ken Walker, KBC Communications