News, Views & Reviews


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


Spring Break as a Springboard in Salt Lake

posted Apr 26, 2017, 7:31 AM by Ginger Bowman

Portico, the College Ministry of First Baptist Church Wichita Falls, spent their spring break investing with an eye on the future. We asked college minister Sterling Sellman to share their experience with us.

Tell us some of the basics about your trip.
Our college ministry in partnership with our missions department went on a 4 day trip to Salt Lake City , Utah. We worked with a church plant called Ekklesia. Some of the projects we did included set up and tear down for their Sunday gathering, neighborhood canvasing for upcoming Good Friday/Easter Services, prayer walking and serving a charter school who allows Ekklesia to use their facilities weekly.

You  shared with us that this trip had a greater goal. How is your trip a part of your strategy? 
Our long term strategy is to see college graduates take their profession and live it out on mission. In other words, someone who graduates is not just transitioning to be a soon to be teacher or a businessman - instead they are graduating as a future teacher on mission, a future businessman on mission. Even further, we believe that Salt Lake City is a perfect place for college graduates to consider moving to and being on the mission of saturating their community with the gospel. We have started asking students to dream about what it would look like to commit their first two years out of college in a place like Salt Lake City.

What were some of the immediate results of your trip?
Students were impacted to live out on mission as a college student. Also, we have a student who is committing his summer to Salt Lake City through the "NAMB Send”  initiative. 

Does your mission trip planning have a long term goal? How might you incorporate that into your next mission opportunity? We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page here.

What you should know about TexasFreshman.com

posted Apr 26, 2017, 7:29 AM by Ginger Bowman

Believe it or not, graduation season is almost upon us again! It's an exciting time for those high school seniors as they celebrate finishing out their high school years and prepare for the next chapter of life. We've designed a website to help them continue their faith journey as they move on to new things. TexasFreshmen.com links students in Texas with a Baptist Student Ministry and/or a local church where they go to college. The sooner they make that connection, the more likely they will be to participate in a ministry during their freshmen year. We want your church to be a part of that connection. Here's what you need to know.

TexasFreshmen.com is a great resource for students! Be sure to share the website with graduating high school seniors or college students who will be transferring to another campus next semester. Help them get connected to a BSM and a church early so that someone can follow up with them before they arrive on campus in the fall. 

Your church can be listed on TexasFreshmen.com in the Find a Church listing. We need your best, updated contact information to list your church on the site. To list your church, simply complete this year's brief Church CollegeMinistry Survey. If your church is already listed you will want to check to be sure we have current contact info. If not just complete the survey and we will add the correct information to the site.

You can get the list! As students and leaders enter the names of incoming freshmen on the website we send their info on to Baptist Student Ministry Directors who will be glad to share them with participating local Baptist churches for follow up.  Don't have a BSM on your campus? We would love to connect those students to a local church! Contact Ginger Bowman this summer for any entries from your campus that may have come in.  
  
Help us with TexasFreshmen.com! We would love to add blog entries and/or video testimonies from students about how your church college ministry has impacted them. Contact Ginger Bowman to contribute at ginger.bowman@texasbaptists.org.

Find this article on our website here.

Easter Sunday Opportunity

posted Apr 26, 2017, 7:28 AM by Ginger Bowman


It's a busy week in the life of the church. Resurrection Week. No doubt you have plenty on your plate this week. In the midst of the hubub don't miss out on the great opportunity you will have to connect with students old and new.  

The old. Students you haven't seen in a while will likely come home for the weekend to spend the holiday with their families.  Then, in a few weeks they will be back for the summer break. This Sunday is a great time to catch up with them and reconnect. Invite them to join you during the semester break.  Is there a fellowship, retreat or mission trip planned that they could be a part of?  Encourage key leaders in your group to seek out those that have been away and visit with them.  Students often avoid coming back to the collegegroup because they are afraid they will not know anyone. This Sunday could help them reconnect this summer. 

The New. There are plenty of students living in your community that do not attend churchanywhere.  Non-church attenders are more likely to attend on Christmas and Easter, so it's possible that you will have new students and young adults in your congregation this Sunday. Make the most of this opportunity by recruiting some key collegestudents to serve as greeters this week. Encourage them to seek out new students and young adults to visit with before and after the service. If you are able to get their contact information, make a plan for follow up. 

There are so many great ideas for ministry during the Easter season, and it's likely that you are already busy with some of those. Sometimes we are so busy planning and serving those in our group we miss the simple opportunities before us. This Sunday ask the Lord to give you and your students eyes to see those He brings your way. We serve a risen Savior; what a blessing that we get to share Him with those around us. 
 
Celebrating Jesus with you this week! 
Ginger Bowman 

Do you have an idea for how your churchhas reached out to visitors? We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page here.

Entrusted: The Few & the Many

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:20 AM by Ginger Bowman

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2Timothy 2:2 NIV

We are instructed to entrust what we have heard to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others.  How good are you at entrusting to others? Sometimes it is difficult because it means we have to hand off some of our ministry to others. Then, trust them to follow through. Many avoid developing student leaders/disciplers for this reason. We would rather do it ourselves. It's just easier.

Actually, it's not easier, and it's not Biblical. We are stunting the spiritual growth of those we lead if we do not teach them to be disciple makers. If you are teaching, you are spurred on by your responsibility to others to continue to learn yourself, to answer the questions that are asked. Teaching others implies growth on the part of the teacher. Why wouldn't we want that for our students?

It is practically impossible to make disciples if we don't equip them to teach others. We don't have enough "relational surface area" to disciple everyone. Discipleship in its truest form is relationship. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many people that you can relate with on a deep level at one time.  There is a point at which you are no longer being a good steward of the relationships that have been entrusted to you. Give some away to those who are ready to be disciplers.  

If your discipling team consists of you and a few adult leaders, you are also stunting the growth of your ministry. Because one person only has so much time and energy to invest, we must make disciples who can make disciples. It is God's plan. Not simple addition, but multiplication. Jesus discipled a few who invested in the many. The imact? They changed the world. Jesus said in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations. You and I cannot do that on our own. We must invest well in those we have been given, then trust them to invest in others who will do the same.

Resource recommendation: Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden is a great book to help students grow as disciples and be ready to disciple others. Find it on Amazon.

The Spring Fall Connection

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:10 AM by Ginger Bowman

You made it through Spring Break! It's tempting to put your ministry on cruise control as you head for the end of the semester, but now is not the time to slow down. These next few weeks could determine the strength of your ministry in the fall

Church college ministry doesn't change quite as drastically in the summer, and may in fact pick up with the return of students who have gone away to other campuses. Nonetheless, the students you have at the end of the spring semester will likely be your core group in the fall.  So, now is the time to cultivate leaders from among this group of students if you haven't already.  

Students reach students.   In his book, College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture, Stephen Lutz writes, "Rather than being passive consumers of ministry, students are called to jump in with the same missional charge. They make the best campus missionaries. After all, they're the ones who join the clubs, sit in the classes, play on the teams, and lead student government. They're the ones who get to have the deep conversations at 2:00 am in the dorm when someone pours their heart out."* So true. Why wouldn't we equip them to lead? 

Cast vision. Next fall is likely not on the radar for students right now. They are trying to get through the semester and thinking about what they will do this summer. Start talking about the fall now.  Cast a vision for what the fall ministry could be. Begin to pray together about what God would have you do to reach students this fall.  

Start where they are. Some may not be quite ready to lead a ministry or disciple other students. Start by discipling them personally and preparing them to do the same when they are ready. Plant the seed by letting them know that you think they can disciple someone else in the near future. Pray together about who that might be. Ask potential leaders to help you plan an event or ministry this spring or summer. Then give them responsibility for specific tasks that will help to build their confidence in leading.  

Pray for workers.  Pray Luke 10:2 for your ministry, that God would send workers for the harvest fields. Pray that He would open your eyes to see potential leaders that maybe you haven't noticed before. Pray that He would begin to raise up leaders from among your group that will be ready for the work he has for your church in the new school year.   

*Lutz, Stephen. College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture, 2011, pg 71.   

When Sin Gets in the Way

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:07 AM by Ginger Bowman


No one likes moldy bread. Bread is supposed to taste great, and look appetizing. The thing is that mold doesn't start out looking bad. It starts small, in the right environment to grow mold, warm air, certain bacteria, light, etc. Your bread might look fine at first but it has a slightly soured smell, and then by the next day it starts to look funny. Eventually it is down right disgusting.  It didn't start out that way. 

Have you experienced a time in your collegeministry when things began to slow down? Maybe your group was growing spiritually and numerically, then things came to a slow halt, attendance dropped a little, and something just didn't seem right. What was the culprit?  Sometimes it's sin. 

Joshua and the Israelites experienced something similar in when they crossed over in to Canaan. Their courage failed and they began to feel defeated. God responds in Joshua 7:13 with these words:  "Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” (ESV)"  There was sin in the camp. Achan had taken the devoted things and tried to hide them, and his sin was getting in the way of what God wanted to do, not just for Achan, but for Israel. 

Sin can get in the way of what God wants to do in your college ministry. It can prevent the Holy Spirit from moving as He desires to move and lead your group. Left unaddressed, sin can even begin to permeate the culture of your group making it ineffective and unappetizing to spiritually hungry students.  
In a relativistic culture, dealing with sin can be a challenge, but it is necessary. Our silence can be seen as permissiveness. What's more, we aren't helping students if we aren't helping them address the sin in their lives. So let's speak the truth in love, and let our students know that God's standard will be our standard because it is what is best for them.  

Hiding God's Word in Their Hearts: True Story

posted Mar 1, 2017, 10:38 AM by Ginger Bowman

Scripture memorization plays a vital role in the personal growth of a mature believer and should not be neglected. I first came to know the Lord when I was in Junior High and was quickly discipled by my youth pastor. Each week, he asked me to memorize a verse off a packet he had typed up for me with verses that he claimed you need to know as a follower of Christ. Memorization at that point in my life was more of a challenge than a joy. This discipline went to the wayside in college until I became a Campus Missionary Intern and was challenged to memorize close to fifteen verses a semester. Little did I know that mindset of scripture memorization as a have to would become a true and utter joy.

In my time as a CMI, I've learned that your ability or want to memorize God's word is a direct reflection of your desire to want to grow in the Lord. Psalm 119: 11 mentions the idea of "hiding His word on your heart so that you will not sin against Him." My utmost ambition in life is to jump for joy in the Lord like David did. I desire that close intimacy that he had. Scripture memory has helped fuel that desire. Not only am I reading God's word, but I am implementing it as an active part of my daily life. It helps me experience "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding." Does scripture memorization play an active part in your ability to find rest in the Lord? Our desire to grow in the Lord is reflected in our ability to memorize His word.

What's made this even more joyful is seeing this become contagious to the young men that I disciple on a weekly basis. They have become my accountability group. One of my students, Jesus Cruz, memorized close to an entire chapter in 1 Chronicles. None of this was done out of a have to, but out of pure joy in his heart. Hiding God's word in his heart has become a discipline of joy in his personal growth with the Lord. 

Hunter Fountain is Campus Missionary Intern for Texas BSM at Stephen F Austin State University. 

Hiding God's Word in Their Hearts: Resources

posted Feb 22, 2017, 8:56 AM by Ginger Bowman

Remember Bible drill? How many of those verses do you still know? Probably several of them. They were imprinted on your heart as you memorized them during those childhood years.  Unfortunately many Christians stop memorizing scripture when they grow up, but scripture memory isn't just for kids. It's an important part of discipleship.

Here are some practical resources you can use to encourage your students to continue to memorize scripture.  

 The Navigators Topical Memory System is an excellent comprehensive resource for scripture memory, complete with systematized instruction, verses for memory by category, and scripture memory cards.  This resource would be an excellent starting point for students who are just beginning the spiritual discipline of scripture memory.   
 BibleMinded, an app created by the American Bible Society for your tablet or smartphone, works like flashcards with a system for learning and then reviewing verses that have been learned. Memorization plans are provided, or add your own verses.
 MemVerse.com is an online resource with verses to learn, and quizzes to test your memorization. It even makes a game of scripture memory complete with a leader board. Great for those competitive types! 

Of course, you can't go wrong with some flash cards and a marker. Have students write out a verse you are studying in your Bible study each week and put it in their car, on their mirror. Whatever works for them. However you want to do it, memorize scripture, and challenge your students to do so as well. Remember that God's word is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 would be a great place to start. 

Do you challenge your students to memorize scripture?  We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page here.

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