I will never forget September of 2005. Hurricane Katrina had just wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast. A few weeks later, during fall break, I joined a mission team to provide disaster relief through meals, mud-outs, and sharing the hope of the Gospel. I learned firsthand that Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) is the third-largest relief organization in the world. This understanding and experience gave me a greater appreciation for DR ministry and deepened my excitement for partnership opportunities.
Many ask me, “What is the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM)?” Or “How does BCM work?” Similar to other partnerships we enjoy within the SBC, when people see how we assist churches to impact the mission field on our college campuses, that understanding often leads to deeper appreciation, support, and cooperation.
It is no secret Generation Z is the least religious of any generation in American history. 132,000 undergraduate college students, and almost 5,000 international students, study in Arkansas. Many have little to no faith background, and many internationals come from countries closed to the Gospel, having never heard the name of Jesus.
Each church is responsible for reaching the lost, but how a church makes Kingdom impact by reaching collegians might vary depending on context. Some churches have robust college ministries. In that case, BCM does ministry “alongside” them. In other contexts, BCM assists churches by reaching college students “with” them. Yet for other churches that may be far from a college campus, BCM may do college ministry “for” them.
Through the Cooperative Program, our 1500 Arkansas Baptist churches support six state staff and ten BCM campus ministers on the ten largest campuses. Most have a BCM building on or near the campus to serve as a mission outpost. Some reach out to other smaller local colleges. Local churches, associations, and individuals give to create local ministry operating budgets (totaling around $791,000 for these 10 campuses), which cover local BCM ministry such as programming, outreach, events, publicity, building upkeep, utilities, and pay for 21 additional part-time or full-time staff. These local churches comprise an “advisory team” which provides local ministry support and accountability. Twelve more BCM campus ministers (almost entirely volunteers) serve on twelve community college or smaller college campuses with a total ministry operating budget of $73,517 also given through local churches and associations.
Someone has said BCM is “from the churches, on every campus, for every student.” Being on campus uniquely opens doors for building relationships, evangelism, discipleship, and connecting students to area churches. Each year thousands of collegians are impacted through BCM. Leaders get discovered, developed, and equipped. Hundreds serve on spring break and summer missions and serve churches through DNow weekends or internships. God calls some into ministry leadership, and many become equipped to live out their faith beyond the campus and into their future vocation. If you have been impacted by BCM, be sure others get to hear your firsthand experience. How exciting to know God is using BCM as one of the many ways Arkansas Baptists partner to reach the next generation!