Recently there has been an increased interest among churches to have a dedicated ministry to college-aged students. A few churches have been able to add a young adult minister to the staff, but for many churches, it simply becomes a secondary or tertiary responsibility of a current staff member or volunteer. If a church has the vision of establishing a ministry to a particular campus, it usually cannot do so, simply because the money is not available to support both programming and staff for the ministry.
A church-based approach to collegiate ministry has many merits. There is a sense of ownership by the members, the ministry has a church available to follow up on students, and students integrated into a multigenerational congregation can more easily get involved in a similar church after graduation. But in some cases, the church-based ministry simply isn’t enough. Some situations might be better served by a campus-based ministry.
The Old Model
A generation ago, campus-based ministries were almost the norm, with state conventions or associations staffing Baptist Student Unions on major campuses. With precious few exceptions, those days have passed. With state conventions and associations focusing more on assisting existing churches and starting new churches, the specifics of target group ministries now rest mainly on the churches themselves. With the rise in enrollment on junior college and community college campuses, churches cannot afford to rely on the major universities as their sole venue for collegiate ministry.
So, how can a church afford to staff a ministry to college-aged students?
An Affordable Option
In many state conventions the bulk of the campus-based collegiate work is conducted by “full-time volunteers” who raise their own support through a program called Mission Service Corps (MSC).
Mission Service Corp is a service of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. According to their Website, Mission Service Corps “is a team of self-funded missionaries who serve for two years or more. They provide their own support in an assigned ministry that supports the evangelism and church planting efforts of the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and its mission partners. The placement comes through the Mission Service Corps office of the North American Mission Board.
“The genius of MSC is that it is structured so that every Southern Baptist can be directly involved. For some, involvement means a willingness to go and serve; for others, it is becoming ministry partners to financially support someone else to go. For still others, it means faithfully praying for those who go and those who support as ministry partners; and for many, it is a combination of these.”1
Mission Service Corps is not a new option; MSC volunteers have been working in evangelism, church and community ministries, resort settings, and disaster relief for years.
Some people may be resistant to raising their own support as it seems to put them in competition with the Cooperative Program, the funding system that has served Southern Baptists for more than 75 years. One must remember that MSC is run by NAMB, one of the top recipients of Cooperative Program funds. Participants are approved and supported by much of NAMB’s infrastructure. In many ways, MSC volunteers truly are “self-funded missionaries.”
For more information, contact one of the following:
- Daryl Watts, California Southern Baptist Convention collegiate specialist, 559.256.0861 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Andrew Broese Van Groenou, CSBC Mission Service Corp volunteer coordinator, email@example.com or 2025 Ardagh Court, Eureka CA 95503
- Mike McCullough, CSBC associate executive director, 559-229-9533, ext. 251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mike Riggins, NAMB regional coordinator, Sending Missionaries Team, email@example.com
Cindy VanKempen, NAMB MSC specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, 770.410.6473 or 800.462.8657, ext. 6473
© 2007 Healthy Church Group
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