In his book, Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, Thom Rainer claims today’s generation of college students are, for the most part, unreached with the gospel. Rainer indicates that only 4 percent of those who are college age profess to be born-again followers of Jesus Christ. That being true, of the approximately 250,000 college students in Kentucky, more than 200,000 will spend eternity in hell if they should die before they hear the gospel and believe.
The churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, working together, are addressing this need more effectively today than ever before. For decades now, churches have given through the Cooperative Program to provide Baptist Campus Ministry directors on our major college and university campuses. In the past, about 10 full-time directors, accompanied by part-time workers and a host of volunteers from committed churches, sought to disciple believers and evangelize unbelievers on their campuses. This ministry served to bless and equip many who now serve Christ as ministers and laypersons all across Kentucky and around the world. In 2011, our BCM directors reported 96 people had come to faith through BCM work on and off the campuses.
We praised God for each soul saved but grieved over the hundreds of thousands who remained lost. In 2013, Brian Combs, who serves as the KBC’s Collegiate Evangelism Strategist, enlisted the help of several KBC staff members and church leaders from across the state in an effort to recast our vision for reaching university campuses. Realizing there are now more than 100 campuses across Kentucky, the group began to explore ways to grow our witness.
One of the most noticeable changes resulting from the effort was the elimination of the role of the BCM director. The new position is that of the Campus Missionary. While some of the names and faces of those leading the work on our campuses have not changed, the change in job title reflects the prioritization of evangelism.
Another change is the addition of the Campus Ministry Intern (CMI) program that allows people to serve in part-time ministry roles under our Campus Missionaries. These interns are connected directly to local churches and associations. They meet specified qualifications, commit to a period of service, raise their own support, and help multiply the ministry of the Campus Missionaries. While we could never employ enough Campus Missionaries to reach 250,000 students, we believe the CMI strategy will greatly increase our gospel witness.
We are already seeing results from these and other changes. In 2014, our Campus Missionaries reported 876 professions of faith on the campuses and an additional 110 professions of faith from ministry work done off campus. We still have a long way to go in order to be able to say that every college student in Kentucky has heard the gospel, but a tenfold increase in the number of persons who have professed faith through the work of Baptist Campus Ministry is a cause for celebration. Might God be glorified!