God is on the move on college campuses/local churches joining the movement

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DELAND— When atheist students are open to attending a Bible study on their college campus it becomes evident that young people are “hungry for something that is real and genuine.”

Steve Loy, associate director of missions for East Central Baptist Network, said that college students today are finding real and genuine love from local churches serving their schools. The local churches’ effort to love, minister and disciple college students has become more focused within the past two years.

Two years ago, Halifax Baptist Association and Seminole Baptist Association merged to become East Central Baptist Network. Soon, the network of churches saw the need for connecting to the college and university campuses in their region. Six higher education schools are located in the network’s region, and two of those schools have multiple campuses.

College students gather for a night of worship at First Baptist Church in Daytona.

“It would certainly be a God thing with only about 70 churches, having an estimated average Sunday morning attendance of approximately 500 college students in all our network churches worshipping together,” said Loy. “With these odds, the leadership of the network knew it was not going to be easy but acknowledged that God was calling us to engage the college students on these campuses with the gospel of Jesus Christ and connect them to the local church.”

The first doors were opened at Daytona State College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where Baptist Collegiate Ministries had served in the past. The churches then found a connection at Stetson University through Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a faculty prayer meeting on campus.

First Baptist Church in Daytona recently hosted a student worship night that drew 90 students including new believers. At Embry-Riddle the church participated in a meal event, and two students made professions of faith as a result. On Stetson University’s Deland campus, the churches have started a Bible study in one of the athletic dormitories, which has led to a profession of faith and upcoming baptism. Stetson Baptist Church and Cross Life Church are serving students at Seminole State College through the newly formed Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

Emery Riddle University students pose at school event where BCM fed students.

At another Stetson University campus in an event sponsored by Fellowship of Christian Athletes, students held a worship service in the courtyard and offered an open forum for the student body to ask questions about Christianity.

As the connections and partnerships have developed, students have found their faith families in the local churches.

“Our hope and goal are to build up the local church with local students,” said Loy. “Students are reaching students; big and small churches are coming behind us to connect with the students.

“God is at work all over the place, I could go on all day about the ways God is moving in campuses across the area. The local churches are feeling they have a part in these campuses; they are not on the sidelines, and the colleges are feeling the real love of God through the churches.”

Loy offers six suggestions to help churches reach college students in their communities:

  1. Have your church adopt a campus close to you and pray for it each week during your worship service.
  2. Have your church volunteer to help and partner with Baptist Collegiate Ministries or other Christian clubs on the campuses close to your church.
  3. Offer a small group Bible study for college students. The Bible study does not need to be at the church.
  4. Have a special day annually to recognize the college close to you. Make this a church event. You may even want to invite the president of the institution to participate.
  5. Have college students involved in your Sunday worship and leadership in your church. This may take a little time, but it will be worth it.
  6. Be real, be loving and preach God’s Word.

“Give students a place to just gather and build community. It could be at a person’s home or at the church. Just let them know you care about them.”

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