News, Views & Reviews


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


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.   

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