News, Views & Reviews

Reaching NYC: A Strategy for Urban College Ministry

posted Sep 25, 2019, 3:00 PM by Ginger Bowman

Meet Austin West. Austin, his wife Haley, and their two children Kolbi and Sawyer live in Queens, NYC. God has called their family to partner with local church plants to reach surrounding communities for the gospel. For Austin specifically, this call manifests itself leading out in the strategy and coordination of reaching college students across the entire city.

Working with the Metropolitan New York Baptist Association (MNYBA) Austin developed a strategy centered around engaging campuses and local churches simultaneously. Engaging campuses, Austin creates multiple pathways on and into campus culture otherwise not exposed to the gospel. Engaging local churches, Austin trains, equips, and supports the local church in reaching their campuses and students within their community. The vision for this strategy is to utilize the local church to create a gospel reproducing presence on every campus in NYC (over 100) so that every student in NYC (over 1,000,000) will encounter the gospel.

This vision is already taking root. In just two years Austin connected to 8 local churches, 10 campuses, 3 outreach organizations, and engaged over 2,000 students. Recognizing this momentum, local churches partnered to launch a monthly worship service for college students in June and saw 30 in attendance! The opportunity to see God move in the lives of college students is tremendous for the church in NYC and for many it has started with a connection to the MNYBA and Austin. The ministry has grown so rapidly that Austin is following a call January 1, 2020 to work full time as a Collegiate Church Mobilizer.

Are you taking notes? Urban areas in our state and around the U.S. can benefit from the ministry strategy that Austin and the MNYBA have developed. The campus is a strategic connecting point for local churches to engage this generation. Building relationships and meeting needs on campus can build bridges to local churches where students live and work.  

We're excited about what God is doing through Austin's ministry in Queens. We asked him what impactful things those interested in his ministry could do to help. Here is his response: 

Pray - God moves in incredible ways through faithful prayer (Mark 11:22-24)
Give - Austin is currently fundraising in order to be full time in January. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Go - Come see what God is doing among church plants and students for yourself! (Mathew 28:19-20)

Want more info on how to partner with Austin contact Ginger Bowman at
Connect with us on our Facebook page here.

Making the Most of First Connections

posted Aug 29, 2019, 2:51 PM by Ginger Bowman   [ updated Aug 30, 2019, 9:14 AM ]

New students are on campus! As new students visit your ministry and events, how do you follow up with them? Having a well defined plan for follow up is crucial to making long lasting connections. 

Keep it clear & simple. 
There are so many different ways to collect contacts now. From QR codes to Google forms, Survey Monkey and a plethora of sign up apps. No more deciphering bad handwriting on a 3x5 card! But the 3x5 card can still be effective, and is handy when your internet connection is bad. Whatever you do, make it simple and easy to sign up.

Collect key information that will make it easy to follow up with students later: name, phone number, and maybe email. Give students options for what they are most interested in. Do they want more info about the church or college ministry? Would they like to know more about who Jesus is? Would they like to study the Bible? Do they need a ride to church? Quick check boxes are an easy way for students to share their interests and give those following up a place to start the next conversation.   

Consider the context. 
If you're collecting information from students at a big event on campus, it's likely not many students will want to fill out anything lengthy. Use a QR code they can scan quickly on their phone to take them to the sign up form. As an incentive, consider collecting information in conjunction with a prize drawing (gift cards, thumb drives, tv, etc.). 

Commit to follow up. 
Don't let those contacts grow cold! Follow up right away with students to know if they are interested in further contact from your church. Have students help make those connections the next day if possible. Personal is better.  If you can, make a visit, or a phone call so that students can be greeted person to person. We know some students will only reply to text, but make that your last resort, and be sure it's not just a group text. Remember personal is better!  

What is your plan for follow up with new students? We would love to hear your creative ideas! Let us know on our Facebook page here.

Unpacking the Summer

posted Aug 13, 2019, 2:08 PM by Ginger Bowman

Whether it was South Asia or South Texas, a week or full summer, students are returning to your ministry with experiences they will need to unpack. They often come home to the same routine but feel as if they are not the same. Help them to process what they are feeling and what they have experienced by listening and asking good questions.  

Need some help? The Go Now Missions staff has prepared some great material to help you with debriefing. Find the pdf document here.  If you need extra help feel free to call the Go Now office at 817.277.4077.

Be sure to celebrate the summer by giving them opportunities to share with other students at gatherings or over coffee. Help them think through what would be the best stories from their summer to share with a group. Testimonies of fellow students are the best way to challenge other students to serve in the coming year. 

May we recommend... King of the Campus

posted Jun 11, 2019, 1:58 PM by Ginger Bowman

If you're looking for a resource to place in the hands of those freshmen who are heading off to campus this fall, you might want to consider King of the Campus by Stephen Lutz.  There are several resources out there for freshmen students.  Many of them have great content warning students of some of the pitfalls and problems they will face when they arrive at college.  However, Lutz challenges students to go beyond "staying Christian" and pursue God and all that He has for them in this new season of life.   
Here's a bit of the challenge:  

Amid the opportunity, life and vitality of college, there is a better way. Different from a list of "don'ts" that leave you bored and alone on Friday night, we can have an active lifethat is engaged with the world around us- one that is not characterized by fear, but by faith, freedom, and joy. We do have a positive agenda, and it's a purpose and a mission that is far greater than any campus website can promise you. What is this purpose? The kingdom of God.

 King of the Campus is a discipleship handbook for the college years, covering the basics as well as spiritual disciplines and practices for a growing faith.  Lutz calls students to re-examine the Christian life.  He calls them to a vibrant life of following Jesus.  Students are asked to move beyond "vampire Christianity" to a faith that is active daily.  Lutz does a great job explaining holiness and the reason to pursue it.  We are to move beyond behaviorism to follow Christ out of our relationship with him.  

The usual challenges of college life, partying, sex, cheating and the like are also covered well.  Lutz addresses the notion that students can have different "lives" apart from one another, noting that eventually all of those "lives" come together to make you who you really are.  He challenges students to live lives of integrity and authenticity.  King of the Campus is written with this generation of college students in mind.  It well addresses the mindsets and challenges of this generation of students.  It would be a great book to share with students heading to campus for the first time.  Or use it in a retreat or study setting.  Each chapter ends with scripture to study and discussion questions that relate to the subject matter. 

The Key to Fruitful Ministry

posted Apr 4, 2019, 12:13 PM by Ginger Bowman

There's no hidden secret for successful college ministry. That's good news, and bad news. Even when we have been walking with Christ for a long time we can get caught up in thinking there might be something we could do, some strategy we could employ, that would guarantee great growth in our ministries and our churches. Notice the "we"s in that last sentence.

All of the books and resources on ministry have their place and value. However, I often need to be reminded of the words of Jesus in John 15:5, and maybe today you do too: 
"I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me."  John 15:5 CSB

No secret formula, just abiding in Christ. That is what produces fruit, in our lives and ultimately in our ministries. We can do a lot of things, but we cannot bear kingdom fruit without him. Nothing of spiritual significance that you are wanting to happen in your ministry will happen without Him. So put down the "how to" book and pick up your Bible. Seek His face, and trust him for the increase.  

Let's be sure to lead students to do the same. They are watching and following our lead. Do they see us planning more than they see us praying? Are we inviting them to join us in praying and seeking the Lord? What could God do in our ministries and in the lives of our students if our primary goal was to abide in Him? 

Student Leaders & the Local Church

posted Jan 23, 2019, 12:06 PM by Ginger Bowman

We have heard all of the statistics about students who leave their faith behind when they go to college, but what about the ones who didn’t? As I have read applications and gotten to know the students serving on this year’s Lead Team (pictured above), I have taken note of the impact that the local church has had on many of these student leaders. What made the difference for the ones who stay connected to their faith and the church? One common thread among these leaders is that they served, and continue to do so. 

Here are some of the things they listed that they have done in their local churches: 
- VBS leader    -Sound and media    -Childcare worker     -Social media team   - Youth sponsor   -worship band    -Sunday school teacher    -Hospitality team   -Student music ministry section leader   -Mission trip member   -Long range planning   -Youth Worship Band    -preached some Sundays when my pastor was out   -parking   -Handbell director assistant   -planned youth group activities     -youth small group leader  

In big and small ways these students have played an active role in their local churches. They know that being a part of the body of Christ means more than being a spectator. They are invested, and because they are invested they have seen God at work in and through their local church. As we begin a new year, how can we invite more students not to just show up for our college ministry activities, but to find a place to serve and invest?  

Ginger Bowman 
Specialist, Church College Ministry & Student Leadership 
Texas Baptist Collegiate Ministry 

Engaging Students: Opportunity Fair

posted Sep 20, 2018, 1:08 PM by Ginger Bowman

This week Jordan Whittington, College Minister at First Baptist Church in College Station, shares a great strategy for engaging students in the life of the church.

Sunday we held our 2nd Annual Opportunity Fair. This is a great chance for students to hear about the many ways that they can connect and serve. The fair happens during our Sunday morning College Group (our largest weekly gathering time). We provide breakfast to be enjoyed while student leaders involved in the various ministry areas share about their involvement. We divide our areas of service into three spheres: Serve our Campus, Serve our Community, and Serve our Church.

This year we had the following tables: Small Groups, Preschool/Children, Youth, Bless our Campus, Freshman Team, Neighborhood Missions, Worship & Praise Team, Orchestra/Choir, Creative Arts, and Food Pantry. Each table has a student ready to share about the works of that team and how students can participate. Our hope is for each student in our ministry to be involved weekly in a small group, actively participate in our church body, and to choose an area to serve weekly (alongside devotional faithfulness and relationally evangelizing). 

After hearing leaders share about each of the ministry opportunities we allow the students to visit the tables of their choosing to learn more or to sign up. Last year was our first attempt at an opportunity fair. Many students checked multiple boxes of areas they were interested in, however, few took the next step of plugging in. This year we are transitioning to a ticket system, encouraging students to choose wisely how they will spend themselves. Each student received 3 “tickets” (cards they are to write their name, cell, and email on) to place at the opportunities they are most interested in. Our hope is by limiting our selections we will increase our participation.

The Harvest Catch 22

posted Aug 30, 2018, 2:32 PM by Ginger Bowman

Campuses all over our state are coming back to life this week as students begin a new year of school. We're excited about their return. We're hopeful that we can impact their lives this year, but are we confident? Jesus says to the disciples in John 4:35,  "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" (NIV). 

Jesus tells us there is a harvest. Do we believe him? Unfortunately many in our churches do not. When someone comes to Christ they are astonished. Decisions for Christ should be expected because we trust that what the Lord of the Harvest has told us is true. When did we start believing the lie of the enemy that no one wants to hear, or that no one will say "yes"? 

Why would you go to work in a harvest when you don't believe the harvest exists? This is the  harvest catch 22.  Jesus say to the disciples, "I will make you fishers of men" because he knew there would be men who would want to follow Him. We must lead students to believe his words. There is a harvest. 

We lead students to believe in the harvest by showing them the harvest. Many students don't believe there is a harvest because they have never seen it. Take students with you to share the gospel and be sure you ask for a response. Sharing without asking for a response sends the subtle message that we assume someone will say "no." They might say "no," but they might say "yes." Jesus said so. 

Do you believe there is a harvest? Before we can lead students to believe there is a harvest we must believe it ourselves. If you are honest with yourself, do you believe there is a harvest?  Take Jesus at his word, and confidently share the gospel with others. Your confidence will be contagious. 

If you need some helps, check out this great resource on gospel appointments. and the book Breaking the Huddle, which we review here.   

Share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page here. 

Ministry Toolbox: Breaking the Huddle

posted Aug 30, 2018, 2:13 PM by Ginger Bowman

Is your church a huddled community, a witnessing community or a conversion community? 
How do you move an inward focused group to become an outward focused group? In Breaking the Huddle, Don Everts, Doug Schaupp and Val Gordon accurately assess the culture of a huddled community and how such a community can become a place where conversions are not the exception but the norm. These witnessing communities "actively embrace God movements." 

Breaking the Huddle builds on the five thresholds of conversion identified by Everts and Schaupp in the book, I Once Was Lost. These strategies can lead members to engage in relational evangelism as they begin to see outreach as a natural product of discipleship. This book is an invaluable resource not only for college ministry groups in churches and campuses but also for churches in general as we seek to lead our churches to become the church on mission in our communities.   

Breaking the Huddle, Don Everts, Doug Schaupp, Val Gordon.  InterVarsity Press, 2016.
I Once Was Lost, Don Everts & Doug Schaupp, InterVarsity Press Books, 2008. 
Find Breaking the Huddle and I Once Was Lost  on Amazon. 

4 Things to Do Now to Jump Start Your Fall Ministry

posted Aug 6, 2018, 1:36 PM by Texas BSM ‎(Baptist Student Ministry)‎

Enjoy soaking up the lazy days of summer, but don't forget that the school year starts in just a few weeks. The start of the fall semester is the most critically strategic time to reach students. Here are four things to do now that will help your ministry year get off to a great start! 

1. Have a year long plan in place. You don’t have to know every detail, but have a plan. Students will want to follow you if they know where you are going.  Keep it simple and clear. How will they grow? What will they be a part of?

2. Recruit volunteers now. Both students and adult leaders can play an important role in reaching out to new students. Cast vision for who you want to reach this year. Ask them to join you in that mission, then train and prepare them for outreach. 

3. Pray for the work ahead. Involve your students, volunteers and your church in praying for the fall semester and new students coming to your local campus. Have prayer gatherings, send prayer reminders and add specific requests to churchprayer lists. 

4. Be aware of current opportunities. Students are coming to campus for preview days, registration, etc. There may be openings right now to interact with incoming freshmen. Call your local BSM Director or the campus student life office to ask about any ways your church could serve incoming freshmen. Remember to always follow campus protocol to insure your church continues to have a good relationship with your local campus. 

What do you do in the summer to jump start the fall semester? Tell us on our Facebook page

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