By Margarete Nasir
Collegiate campus missionaries and ministers from around Arizona gathered in May in Nashville, Tenn., with 750 college ministers at the national Collegiate Summit — a conference so big that it is held just once every three years.
Leaders were privileged to learn from experienced ministers from around the country, network with fellow collegiate missionaries, visit with and hear stories from those who have been sent abroad through the International Mission Board and discover ministries serving in collegiate settings.
Those attending also had access to representatives from Southern Baptist seminaries and organizations like Samaritan’s Purse and the Forgotten 50, a ministry dedicated to establishing a presence on the 50 most unreached college campuses in North America, all of which are located in Canada.
Madison Reimus, director of college ministry at Church on Mill, Tempe, spoke to the assembly in a “10 in 5” segment, featuring 10 questions asked and answered in 5 minutes. In addition to encouraging ministers to prioritize the local church with their students, she emphasized that “what you save students with is what you save them to … the more skill that we have with God’s Word, the better that we can teach students.”
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said, “There is one thing worse than no gospel at all and that is half a gospel.”
Moore reminded leaders that college students are reacting to new skepticisms.
“The primary problem is not secularism, it’s cynicism,” he said. While many college students wonder whether there is anything real at all to the gospel and the Christian walk, collegiate ministers have the opportunity to display a biblical family of believers.
Moore said, “…it does not mean that you are leaving family or community; it means that you are walking into greater — a different kind of belonging and community.” For a generation that is now known to be even lonelier than senior adults, genuine community, or lack thereof, is significant when considering the cost of following Christ.
Arizona boasts roughly 52 college campuses statewide, but only about two dozen experience consistent college ministry. Collegiate campus ministers from churches around the state, including Pinnacle Church, Catalyst Church and Passion Creek, intentionally dedicate their resources — time, people, prayer and finances — to reaching college students on their neighboring campuses with the gospel. Christian Challenge, Arizona Southern Baptists’ collegiate arm, works to partner with churches to help provide evangelism, discipleship and leadership development to college students in their walk with Christ.
For college ministers in Arizona, half a million college students means that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.
“I believe that college ministry is one of the most important ministries that Southern Baptists underwrite,” said Augie Boto, interim president of the SBC Executive Committee, at the Collegiate Summit.
Continue to pray for collegiate leaders and their students as they labor to share Jesus on campuses in Arizona.