College Ministers Across the State Share their Best Advice on Reaching Millennials
College ministers in Arkansas are seeing great success in seeing students’ lives changed by the power of the Gospel presented through Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), a ministry supported by the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program.
With unprecedented numbers of young people leaving the church in recent history, such success is invaluable to ministers of all ages, so we asked several Arkansas BCM ministers to share their best advice on how to reach millennials.
Brad saw God bring revival to the campus of Lyon College in Batesville, going from one single person at the BCM to reaching 10 percent of the campus in one year. Now having been at Arkansas Tech for one year, he has seen God triple the size of the ministry, and they are preparing for more next year.
“College students see through being cool or relevant. You could be the most uncool, untrended guy ever, and you can reach people. Millennials have been sold to their whole lives. They want authenticity. God is the One doing the work. You just have to give them the opportunity to respond and then follow up.” Read and watch more about Brad’s story.
Tarvoris has experienced an explosion of faith at UAPB among students, including one young man who has led several of his friends to Christ and even put his life on the line to share the Gospel with a drug dealer in his hometown.
“You must be authentic in your faith. Millennials can smell and see someone who is not genuine. Really open up your life to them by allowing them to see your shortcomings as well as your strengths. Most things will be caught and not taught. Your effectiveness in reaching millennials will be only as powerful and effective as how much God has ahold of you. Do not be in public for Jesus what you are not in private for Jesus.”
Lynn has seen one Arkansas college student impact the nations when an international student from South Asia came to get a business degree and received Christ. He is now going back to his country as a missionary, even making contact with International Mission Board missionaries where he lives.
“Most students graduating today want to be their own bosses and go their own direction. They have a very entrepreneurial mindset. However, they have limited work experience and little understanding of management. Become a mentor to a college student. Help them learn critical management skills in time management, personal life, financial and social areas of their lives. Help them find part-time jobs or internships in an area they are passionate about.”
Jared has seen how relationships can be an effective way to disciple college students. One student came to the BCM after months of working out at the gym with Jared, and his life was forever changed.
“The best piece of advice I can give is to invite [college students and millennials] into your life. College students need to see a great example of a Christian living his life for God in whatever area he is in. That can be stay-at-home mom, businessman, lawyer, teacher, and many others. They need space to make mistakes and ask questions. Challenge them and love them equally. Be available both for informal and formal times of spiritual growth/input in their lives.”
Phillip saw the workings of the Holy Spirit in a young man who had been a high school dropout. Through discipleship and spiritual growth, he is now leading others to Christ in a local church.
“Teach students the Bible by opening the book to them, but also by opening your life to them. Be an example and a mentor who allows students to watch you live your life for Christ (flaws and all). This is biblical. It is healthy for students to see us as imperfect humans who love Jesus and strive to be more like him. You might be the only Jesus-follower, loving spouse/parent, or true friend they ever know.”
Jerome has seen his students go deeper in their faith, especially one young woman who has openly blogged about her willingness to go and do whatever God calls her to do.
“You set the tone. Your attitude, your heart, your words affect others. In Joshua 14:8, Caleb speaks about how some of the leaders made the hearts of the people melt. In doing so, the fulfillment of God’s people entering the Promised Land was delayed. We must be like Joshua and Caleb and install courage and love and not melt the hearts of the people. We set the tone.”