Converge 365 — Changing the conversationby Emily Rojas
Surrounded by college students and ministry leaders alike, seven ministers involved in reaching college students presented at the Converge365 conference at North Carolina Central University Sept. 26-27 to discuss impacting lostness through different models of campus ministry. This two-day conference was sponsored by the Collegiate Partnerships Team of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) and provided those who attended the opportunity to take a closer look at how to better impact lostness on campuses throughout the nation.
Stephen Wagoner is a catalytic missionary for Church Multiplication Hub and elder for Church in the Triad. Wagoner shared his belief that the campus ministry should mimic a missional community — it should be a true family of believers who “live life together” and actively share the gospel together, as the Church did in Acts. With this model, he said campus ministry involves believers who live in the same vicinity becoming a family of sorts — meeting together regularly to encourage each other, to hold each other accountable and to make disciples.
Gene Parr, a campus missionary at Morehead State University, shared about how he has been able to see Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) expand through intentional discipleship and through being actively involved in secular life on campus. Parr said he personally disciples the BCM freshmen, and that his students go through a discipleship plan that helps them grow during their entire college career. Parr also emphasized that campus ministries should not shy away from making disciples using secular tools — “Our Savior is really comfortable with secular stuff and using it for the Kingdom,” Parr said.
Seth Norris, senior pastor of Perkinsville Baptist Church of Boone, spoke about helping college students mature — “What separates youth ministry and college ministry from the Church is a lack of opportunity to mature believers through already mature believers,” he said. Norris said that he seeks to see intergenerational connections between college students and older believers, so that the students can be discipled, and in turn, disciple others by serving in the Church.
Kelton Hinton, associational missionary for Johnston Association, shared from his experiences while leading an effort to engage Johnston Community College. Hinton explained that community college students are kept in “silos” based upon their area of study. This means engaging students is best accomplished within their area of study. He said seeking out professionals who work in the students’ areas of study can lead to connections being formed and the gospel being shared.
Reggie Hunt, pastor of Cornerstone Summit Church in Winston-Salem, is also a chaplain with the Appalachian State University football team. Hunt spoke of “tension between Christian culture and relevance in society.” Hunt noted that while college students of all races and cultures come together on college campuses and share many interests and activities, they often segregate themselves when it comes to ministry. “The gospel doesn’t stop at salvation … if the gospel is greater than your culture, it will change your culture,” Hunt said.
Joy Turner, the director of global mobilization at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla., spoke about ministry to international students. Originally from England, Turner spoke from her personal experiences as an international student as well as her ministry experiences on college campuses working with international students. “We’ve missed it” Turner said. “We’ve condensed the gospel to a five minute presentation, and many international students need more than five minutes when they come from a culture that does not recognize God, much less that He died for our sins.”
Josh Hyde planted Campus Church in Cullowhee on the campus of Western Carolina University. Hyde challenged the approach of some church leaders who gather students who are already believers into their churches, rather than engaging nonbelievers. He also noted that many college students leave their home church having never surrendered to Christ, enjoy campus ministries while at school, and graduate without ever having surrendered their lives to Him. Hyde made it clear that he wants to see this change, and he’s doing his part at WCU.
To learn more about Converge365 and what you can do to help BCM across the nation, please contact Jonathan Yarboro at firstname.lastname@example.org.