Highland minister focuses on making disciplescomment (0)
June 12, 2014
By Allen Tate
Pastor to college and young singles The Well — Highland Baptist Church, Florence
When the church where I am currently serving was looking to hire its first full-time college pastor, I was told that one of our longtime deacons asked, “Why do we need a college pastor when we help support Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) on campus?”
My pastor, in his wisdom, responded, “Because we all have a responsibility to engage this generation of students with the gospel, and the more boots we have on the ground the better.”
The truth of the matter is that there will be roughly 20 million college students sitting in classrooms across the country this fall, and according to a Pew Research study from July 2010, 32 percent of them claim to have no religious affiliation.
That number is almost a third higher than their parents (21 percent) and more than double their grandparents (15 percent).
Students aren’t curiously walking into our church buildings; they have made up their minds on their need for religion. It is our responsibility to take the gospel to them.
The need is clear. No one would deny that. But the problems arise when we measure our success in collegiate ministry based on the number of students who attend church events. When numbers become our end game, competition becomes the means by which we get them. We no longer view the other ministries around us as allies but as enemies, and the last thing we want is to work alongside them for fear that they “take” some of our students. Satan wants us to judge our ministry performance solely on how many show up so that the pressure to keep them will be our primary objective. He wants us to feel as if we have to justify our ministry’s importance in order to satisfy those who fund them, which ultimately leads us to spending more time trying to keep those who would already consider themselves Christians and much less time actually engaging those who don’t.
The solution is as clear to me as the need and the problem. Stop buying the lie. We have to stop making ministry about the name on our buildings and more about the name on our hearts. We have to be less about “keeping” students and more about making disciples. We have to resist the urge to fight for our night of the week and start fighting together for the souls of the lost. That’s the only way we will ever make an impact on the 32 percent.
As a church-based college minister, I am thankful for BCM and other church-based ministries in our area because there are times when this work can become overwhelming. In those times, it’s nice to know I have fellow ministers of the gospel standing with me as allies, with their eyes on the ultimate goal of making Christ known on our campus.