News, Views & Reviews


Youth Ministry to College Ministry: Mind the Gap

posted Oct 11, 2017, 1:18 PM by Ginger Bowman

They graduated and spent their last summer in the youth ministry, but where did they go this fall? When they became college freshmen?  If you're having trouble connecting with the students that just left your youth ministry, you're not alone. And, there may be some things you can do to "mind the gap" in this next year. 

X You Are Here.  When students leave the youth ministry, where do they go next? Is it close to the youth building? Are you asking them to cross a parking lot, or go to a space that is far away from where they have been? It may sound silly, but your location might be creating a barrier for students. They have left friends in the youth group behind, and taking the initiative to go to a space far from where they have been might be enough to keep them from making the effort. If moving isn't an option, be intentional about finding students to help build relational bridges. 

Invest in the Youth Ministry. What do current youth know about the college ministry in your church? Do they know you as the leader? Students need to have a picture of where they will go next and who will be there. Let them see college students serving in the youth ministry. Have college students share testimonies about a college mission trip or retreat. If you're the college minister, offer to speak at a youth event, or serve as a leader at youth camp. Get to know the students who will be in your college ministry next year, or in two or three years. 

Remove the Stop Sign. Work with the youth minister and youth ministry leaders to develop a strategy for ministry that begins in the youth ministry but continues on into the college ministry. Begin to share that plan and vision with students in the youth ministry so they see graduation as a marker, not a stop sign, What will they look forward to as they grow into the college ministry? Leadership? Special mission opportunities? Giving back to the youth ministry where they started? Share the plan with students and parents along the way so that students eagerly embrace the road ahead as they move into the college ministry. 

Sending Out the Scouts

posted Sep 6, 2017, 10:27 AM by Ginger Bowman

When Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, he told them, “Go up this way to the Negev, then go up into the hill country. See what the land is like, and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. Is the land they live in good or bad? Are the cities they live in encampments or fortifications? Is the land fertile or unproductive? Are there trees in it or not? Be courageous. Bring back some fruit from the land.” It was the season for the first ripe grapes.   Numbers 13:17-20 CSB

God commanded Moses to send out spies to scout out the Promised Land before the people went in.  They were to collect valuable information about the land and the people they would encounter there.  And they were to be courageous.  You're not occupying a foreign land, but sending out some "scouts" from your group can help you be ready to engage the campus. 

Your strategy for reaching students in your area should involve the students in your church.  They are already engaged in your ministry, and they are already connected to local campuses and other students.  It's possible that they have never seen their campus as a mission field. 

Be specific in asking them to share their insights about their campus.

  • On your campus, what does an average student's week look like? Are they commuting? Hanging out on campus? Leaving quickly?  
  • If you were to describe the students on your campus to an outsider what would you say about them? 
  • In your opinion, what do you think are the greatest needs that students on your campus have? 
  • What is one thing that we could do as a college ministry to serve the students on your campus? 
Give them specific tasks to do at the beginning of the year to get a better idea of what is happening on campus.  Find out what student organizations are on campus and if they are planning any events.  Encourage them to volunteer to serve at of beginning of the year activities. They might go to the student  activities office and ask if they could help with new student orientations, or welcome week events. Have them download a campus map and be intentional about helping new students that might be lost and looking for a classroom.  

Help them be courageous by giving them a place to start.  Asking specific questions and scouting out the campus can build confidence to do more. They can lead to building relationships with new students and seeing their campus, not just as where they go to class, but as the mission field that God has given them for this season of life.  

Reaching the Unreached

posted Sep 6, 2017, 10:24 AM by Ginger Bowman   [ updated Sep 6, 2017, 10:25 AM ]

We're thankful for the churches around Texas that are helping to build community on the community college campuses of Texas. There is more to be done! What could your church do?  Luke 10:2

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Are You Ready for the Fall Semester?

posted Jul 18, 2017, 9:44 PM by Ginger Bowman

The fall semester is approaching quickly! Next month we will welcome a new class of freshmen to our campuses, and hopefully, to our churches. You've likely put some things on the calendar in anticipation of that busy season.  But are you ready?    

Paul tells us  in 1 Corinthians 3:7, "So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." We can plant and we can water. We can make "To Do" lists, and update our social media, but we will not be ready if we have not prayed and asked the Lord for his presence in our ministries.

What could happen if we would ask Him? Immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. If we are not praying for our ministry and our students, we are missing out. If we are not leading our students to pray for God to move, we are subtly communicating to them that our human efforts are sufficient. Do we want to see what we can do in our college ministries this year, or what God can do?

If you're making plans for the fall semester, make plans to pray. Pray for your students. Pray that God would move in your church and in your college ministry. Pray that He would do more than you could ask or imagine. Then lead your students, and even your church, to do the same. 

Summer Reads for College Ministry: The Disciplines

posted Jun 26, 2017, 8:38 AM by Ginger Bowman

Happy First Day of Summer! Are you doing some summer reading? Here are a few suggestions to add to your list that will help you maximize your discipling time with students. You might even want to ask a student or two to join you in reading one of these. 

  • Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, Richard J. Foster, 10th Anniversary ed., Harper San Francisco, 1998. "Superficiality is the curse of our age.... The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people," Richard Foster. Foster's work has become a modern classic for Christians, drawing believers deeper in their Christian faith through spiritual practices. He works through several common disciplines of the faith, communicating the purpose and best practices for each one.     
  • The Divine Conspiriacy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God, Dallas Willard, What is discipleship? What does it mean to follow Jesus? Willard breaks down the concept of discipleship and reconstructs it, in order for the reader to discover the true meaning of following Christ, and daily disciplines to help one on that journey. 
  • Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Intervarsity Press, 2015. Practical, accessible guidance on how to do the disciplines of the Christian life. This handbook is a great reference for incorporating spiritual practices into everyday life. You may want to ask a student to work through the book with you, intentionally practicing each of these disciplines as you read them.   

Got a resource to share? We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page here.

International Students: Next Steps

posted Jun 21, 2017, 6:31 AM by Ginger Bowman

This week Robbi Francovich, Cross Cultural Specialist at the BSM at UT Austin shares some suggestions for ministry to international students.  

Navigating the world of the university campus and meeting international students can be a “foreign” experience if you are just starting.  Of course, the best source of knowledge and experience is your local Baptist Student Ministry staff.  The BSM is a “home away from home” for students and a great partner that will walk alongside you in discovering how to use resources and volunteers.

Another great way to get connected is through the University’s international student office.  They will have a “friendship” or “host family” program that connects students to members of the local community.  Host families are paired with international students in the Fall, but often there are summer needs for short-term programs such as a group of Korean teachers or a leadership camp for Iraqi youth.  

The University’s English as a Second Language program or off campus ESL centers need both adult and student volunteers to be conversation partners.  At the University of Texas BSM, we have opened our building to the ESL socials program.  Once a month they have a lunch or party for the ESL students.  They also have a weekly “talk time” and need volunteers to have hour-long conversations to practice English with the students.  As we get to know the students, we invite them for Sunday lunch at home, or to go get a coffee. These students not only need to learn English, but they want to be part of community. 

Community and partnership are at the core of programs offered off-campus.  “Friendship International” in Austin, a non-profit organization of Baptist churches has a weekly morning program offering English and creative classes, cultural programs and childcare for international women in the community.  Another similar program called “Coffee Morning” focuses on wives of international students and scholars.

One of our local churches, Hyde Park Baptist Church, has a thriving family-based InternationalSunday School.  They offer both a Bible Study and an English conversation class during the Sunday School hour.  Throughout the year, several families partner together to host Sunday lunches, trips, and weekly classes at the BSM.  They have registered as a student organization and meet new students in the Fall, do a “Welcome to America” retreat, a Spring Break adventure, and holiday home events.  Their success in this continued ministry is year-long involvement, deepening friendships, and a loving witness through the Word of God and their lives well lived. 
“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”  1 Thess 2:8

Contact Robbi Francovich, Cross Cultural Specialist, University of Texas at Austin for more ideas robbiutbsm@gmail.com 

International Students: A Place to Start

posted Jun 21, 2017, 6:29 AM by Ginger Bowman


Are there international students on your local campus? Has your church thought about reaching out to them? It might seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be. You just need to find a place to start.

Recruit a team. You may already have some leaders in your church that would love to be a part of ministry to internationals. Your missions committee, Women on MIssion groups, mission minded students in your own ministry. Gather your team and get started.

Research. There are several ways to find out about the international students on your local campus. Start by checking reports from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). Every year data is compiled from colleges and universities around the state. The annual almanac is particularly useful. Find that information on their website here. Check the school websites of your local campus for information about internationalstudent programs and what they offer. For broader information about international students and study abroad, check out the Open Doors resource here.

Reach out. If there is a BSM on your local campus, you can start by contacting the director to find out more about international ministry. Your church may be able to partner with a ministry that has already been established. For example, every year several churches help the Aggie BSM provide home goods and furnishings for incoming international students. The BSM Director may also be able to help you know who to contact on the campus for more information on how your church could help. 

If your campus does not have a BSM, you will want to contact the international education office, or the office of student services. Let them know who you are and that your church would like to offer to help incoming international students. Right now is a great time to contact them! Plans are in the works for students coming to campus in August. Your church might be able to provide van rides to the store, home furnishing items to students who need them, or be a part of a cultural exchange program. 

Be Reliable. Whatever you choose to do to serve internationals, remember that the campus and those students are counting on you! You are building a relationship with the campus for the long term. Let them know that your church is a trustworthy partner in the community by keeping your commitments and doing things with excellence. Be sure to follow their guidelines when given an assignment by the campus. Go the extra mile by giving away welcome packs when you give rides, or provide coffee and pastries for the international staff during their busy season. Remember it's an investment in your local community and the world! 

If you're interested in planning a strategy for your church, contact Ginger Bowman at ginger.bowman@texasbaptists.org.  

Reach the Campus :: Reach the World

posted Jun 7, 2017, 10:45 AM by Ginger Bowman

The United States is seeing record numbers of international students attending colleges and universities. According to the Open Doors report for 2016, one in 3 international students in the United States studies in California, New York or Texas.*  More than 62,000 internationals attended college in the state of Texas last year. The world has literally come to our doorstep. 


They come for the opportunity and the experience. Many students come to experience the American life, but most of them will never enter an American home. Even if their campus is in a larger city, it can be an insulated environment. It is easy for a student to come to campus and leave not knowing anyone outside of campus life.

Even more compelling is the fact that a number of these students will come from countries with little or no access to the gospel. Their coming to the U.S. opens a door for them to hear the Good News for the first time. There are many stories of students who come and accept Christ, then take the message back home to their families and friends when they return.  

International ministry doesn't have to be complicated. An invitation to a meal. Conversation partnerships that help students with their English skills. Providing rides to the grocery for the many students who don't have access to a vehicle. All of these gestures can begin a relationship that leads to sharing Jesus.  Do you know who the international students are in your community? What could your church do to impact the life of one of these students?   

We want to help you think strategically about reaching the international students in your community, so the next few newsletters will focus on this unique ministry opportunity. If you're interested in planning a strategy for your church, contact Ginger Bowman at ginger.bowman@texasbaptists.org.  

*Population statistics from the Institute of International Education Open Doors and the 2017 Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, THECB,

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College Ministry for the City

posted May 25, 2017, 12:17 PM by Ginger Bowman   [ updated May 25, 2017, 12:18 PM ]

"And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left...
"Jonah 4:11 NIV

God cares about the city. He loves all of the college students that live there. So why do we over look them?

It's easy to do. There are so many people in our cities: Houston, 2.2 million, Dallas 1.3 million, San Antonio, 1.4 million, Austin 931,000.* And so many people groups. It's easy to miss the thousands of college students as one of those people groups.

At over 48,000 students, Texas A&M in College Station is a very large campus.  But did you know that the Dallas County Community College System had an enrollment of 65,000+ in the fall of 2016? Or that the Alamo Community College District had an enrollment of 51,000?*  Those are just some of the students in those great cities. There are a number of 4 year universities and other campuses in those cities as well,bringing the numbers of students in these cities into the hundreds of thousands. 

We must go to the campuses in our cities. Not all of those students are in the 18-25 age range, but many are. And all of the students there need Jesus. The freshman who is living at home with mom & dad, the airman just back from his tour of duty in the military that is beginning his degree and a new chapter of life, the international student excited about new opportunity and longing to experience life in the United States. 

College ministry in the city is different. Many students commute, have full time jobs and live at home with parents. Their traffic patterns are different. Yet, they are no less in need of community. They are hungry for real friendships. They need mentors, and they need a Savior.  
 
Luke 19:41 says "And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it," Jesus wept over the very city where he would soon lose his life. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the vastness of the cities in which we live, to stay in our neighborhoods and suburbs. The students on that campus in your city matter to God. Do they matter to your church?  

Interested in planning a strategy for reaching your local campus? Contact Ginger Bowman at ginger.bowman@texasbaptists.org.  

*Population statistics from US Census Bureau as recorded by the Texas State Archives Commssion. Campus enrollments from the 2017 Texas Public Higher Education Almanac, THECB.

College Ministry for Life

posted May 25, 2017, 12:15 PM by Ginger Bowman

Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself engaging in many conversations on the current state of American evangelicalism. Questions like these arise: What is the future of the church as we know it? What will the Baptist denomination look like for our children? What does evangelism look like in a post-modern context? Why do people stop going to church – and what does it look like for them to come back?

I trust that these are questions we all are struggling with in one sense or another. And it has brought me to this foundational question in my own ministry: So what now? How do I create a dynamic college ministry that equips and prepares students to successfully navigate life in the church – especially after they graduate?

My team and I have focused on a few things that help move us forward in the pursuit of this goal. Here a few thoughts:

  •  Keep the focus on being Jesus’ disciple. New Testament Professor Scot McKnight suggests that we can reduce Jesus to a transaction on the cross if we’re not careful – let’s make sure not to do that. If we can focus on introducing (and re-introducing) students to the whole story of Jesus, I think they can survive whatever church landscape they face down the road – because they will know and love Jesus. Fight away any temptation to define success by numbers or personal praise – it’s all about discipleship.
  • ‘Pull back the curtain’ a little. At the end of the Wizard of Oz, the curtain is pulled back to show Dorothy how Oz really works – contrary to the way it was always presented. I think this is a call of collegeministers – help students see church, the Bible, and the Christian life as they really are. This summer we are studying “Bible Stories You Learned When You Were Eight But Need to Look At Again.” Why? Because their faith has to grow in the same way their intellect is growing at the university across the street. We have to help them have an adult faith – to re-examine and take ownership in deeper ways than they have before.
  • Be ready to change and grow as a minister. This year more than ever, I have been convicted and humbled. We are in a new age. We cannot “rinse and repeat” the same programs that worked when we were in college – or even that we were taught in seminary. Embrace new ideas – even from students. Listen to the Spirit. Don’t be afraid to risk in pursuit of forward motion.

Overall, I want us to be encouraged! God is still at work, and the church has a vibrant future ahead. Let’s be a part of helping guide it onward.

Books that are influencing my ministry right now:

  • King Jesus Gospel, Scot McKnight.
  • Building a Discipling Culture, Mike Breen.
  • Fresh Expressions of Church, Travis Collins.

Katy Reed is Director of College Ministry at First Baptist Church Arlington


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