Today an article came out in the Biblical Recorder (the NC Baptist paper) about campus ministry developments in a number of locations across North Carolina. Allan Blume (BR Editor) did a great job of showing 4 very different models of ministry, including BCM of the High Country. I have copied the portion about BCM (verbatim) below, but I would encourage you to take a look at the article itself.
In North Carolina’s northwestern mountains Appalachian State University’s (ASU) student enrollment of more than 17,000 practically ties the population of its hometown, Boone. The campus ministry at ASU has been strong in recent years. It’s still thriving, but there are some marked differences.
When the BSC announced new models of campus ministry last year, much concern arose among the students and local Baptists invested in sharing the gospel with ASU students.
Leaders in the Three Forks Baptist Association (TFBA) acted quickly to insure that the ministry would stay alive. Meetings with local pastors, lay leaders, campus leaders and BSC staff resulted in a new organizational structure, new campus ministry staff, increased involvement from local churches and an energetic ministry with expanded vision.
Jonathan Yarboro was employed by the BSC for seven-and-a-half years as the ASU Baptist campus minister. Last year he resigned to become the Western regional consultant for campus ministry.
Mike Puckett is the new Baptist minister on campus. He joins Anna Kilby who has been the campus ministry’s international outreach leader for two years. “Because of Jonathan’s leadership at ASU, I came into a situation that was healthy and functioning at a high level, with solid leadership and a really good paradigm,” he said. “The biggest change is that the convention has released campus ministry to the local churches so they can be about owning campus ministry rather than just being marginally involved.”
He said that while campus ministry was strong, many local churches did not know that campus ministry existed, because they were not involved. “If a church was not deeply connected to campus ministry, they would be in the dark.”
Puckett said last year there were several associational executive committee meetings to talk about the future of campus ministry. A significant number of local pastors got involved.
Seth Norris, pastor of Perkinsville Baptist Church in Boone, led a task force of about eight members including a faculty advisor, current students, former students and local pastors. A new vision was described in a 10-page document that was taken to the full association for approval.
A new non-profit organization was formed. Although it is not owned by the association, it is linked to the association. The leaders wanted to leave the door open for churches outside of TFBA to participate.
Doctrinal standards were put in place for board members including membership in a Southern Baptist church.
“It has been very positive,” Puckett said. “The board has worked very hard to make the launch successful and to be accountable to local churches. The board members have been great cheerleaders for our ministry – supporting us through prayer and giving.
“I have been very pleased … More churches have invested themselves financially and are involved with boots on the ground than before.”
Campus leaders say they are seeing healthy cohesion and synergy in their relationships with the churches. There were eight churches involved before the new structure. Today there are 15. “There are some strong, pre-existing church relationships,” Puckett said. “But what is really beautiful is that every single church has a different kind of impact and investment in our ministry. Some are able to be very active; some serve in smaller ways.”
Jimmy Finch is a minister who serves as a student liaison for Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone.
Puckett described Finch’s level of involvement. “He comes to the campus regularly to meet with students, he attends many of the Tuesday night worship gatherings, and he engages with students. He is committed to being in relationships with college students, caring for them and discipling them, even though it is not his primary duty in church ministry. It is super exciting to see that happen.”
Some churches are connected for the first time in the history of Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM). “Laurel Springs Baptist is one of those churches that have really gotten involved with BCM,” Puckett said. “Pastor Tim Lynch recently came to this church, and before he even arrived in town he Facebooked me and said ‘I am moving to the area, and I … want to connect with you, and I want to help move our church toward serving with BCM ministry and being a supporter.’ He has done that.”
He said churches like Three Forks Baptist in the past only served meals to the students in weekly meetings. This year they worked with Kilby to sponsor an international event called, “Welcome to America” cookout.
“They show up with all of the burgers, hot dogs and everything needed for a big cookout,” Puckett said. “They set up in the grills and served us … about 85 percent of the university’s international student population came to this event. The church members serve us so we can mingle with the new international students and build relationships with them. They don’t feel like they are just working the meal line or just writing a check to us. They are part of what we do.”
Puckett is also impressed with the student leadership on campus. “They are excellent, godly young men and women who come with new vision and excitement,” he said. “They are a really strong team.
“Ultimately our mission is to be a missionary hub on the ASU campus. God has given us the opportunity to specialize in reaching the biggest mission field in this mountain area.”
Personal discipleship happens in small group gatherings throughout the week. One is called “crossover groups” which helps freshmen believers adjust to college life. They transition into discipleship groups focused on training, accountability and prayer. “We want to give them space to build community, but we also want them to focus on our mission of reaching lost students,” Puckett said.
The ASU campus ministry holds central weekly gatherings. Attendance ranges from 80 to 200, depending on Boone’s changing weather and exam schedules, he said. “It can be a powerful thing if you have enough students to reach a critical mass. When I did campus ministry in Ohio it was hard to get large numbers to meet together. But because we have a healthy number gathered, it helps build students to worship together.
“We want to make it clear to our students that our Tuesday night meeting is not what BCM is all about,” Puckett added. “It is important. We want to do it well. But we are all about teaching and training students to live like missionaries on this mission field. We want them to understand that they are not just here to learn, then one day leave and serve God somewhere else. God has called them here to reach their friends around them.”