Baptist Collegiate Ministry is one of Southern Baptists “best-kept secrets,” according to Weaver McCracken, director of collegiate ministry for the Mississippi Baptist Convention. “Southern Baptists often do not realize all that BCM does to disciple and influence our next generation of leaders, and the tremendous contributions BCM makes to the Kingdom work that drives Southern Baptists.”
Last year, more than 69,500 students were actively involved in campus ministry on the 839 college and university campuses across the United States and Canada where Southern Baptists and their Canadian Baptist counterparts have a Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM). The ministry is also known as BSU (Baptist Student Union), CrossWalk, Christian Challenge, and a variety of other names in different regions of the nation.
An additional 290,000 students were directly impacted by a Southern Baptist campus ministry last year, according to Brian Frye, collegiate evangelism strategist for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and president of the State Student Directors Association (SSDA). Almost 10,400 of the students impacted by BCM were from other countries.
“Baptist Collegiate Ministry has become one of the most significant training grounds for thousands of leaders who go on to become pastors, pastors’ wives, church staff members, church planters, evangelists, International Mission Board missionaries, North American Mission Board missionaries, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and directors and educators” within the Southern Baptist Convention framework, Frye said. “BCM has continued to play an essential role in both stimulating conversions of college students and facilitating continued spiritual growth far beyond their years on the college campus.”
Statistics gathered by SSDA bear him out. Last year, 14,505 college students were involved in witness training. Through their witnessing efforts, 2,790 fellow college students professed faith in Christ, yielding an active involvement to conversion ratio of 25:1. An additional 9,766 individuals professed their faith in Jesus through these students’ participation in short-term mission trips and involvement in local church and community ministries. “If college students embrace Christ and make it their life goal to pursue a growing relationship with Him, what is the impact?” Frye asked. For him, the answer is simple: “They can change the world.”
Last year, of the students actively involved in BCM ministry, 4,492 indicated they were preparing for vocational church ministry. Many others will serve as salt and light in their respective vocations while simultaneously serving as active lay leaders in churches across the nation.
“From the classrooms of our educational establishment, to the businesses of our economy, to the courts of the legal system, and ultimately to the gatherings of our local churches, college students and graduates possess the ability and opportunity to set the course of our nation, our churches, and the future acceptance of beliefs we hold dear,” Frye said. “It is because of this reality that BCM students and leaders strive to see every college student become a fruit-bearing disciple.”
BCM is funded primarily through state-level Cooperative Program gifts. CP funding provides significant support for 433 full-time campus ministry directors, joined by 261 part-time and bivocational directors of campus ministries. An additional 216 individuals serve as volunteer directors, often as an extension of the college ministry efforts of a local church or association. Many BCMs receive additional funding from local associations and churches.
NAMB provides joint funding with some state conventions for campus missionaries, primarily in the emerging regions of the country. NAMB also provides the infrastructure to assist more than 140 campus missionaries who raise their own support. LifeWay Christian Resources produces numerous campus ministry resources, contributes funds for BCM programs, and sponsors National Collegiate Week and Beach Reach.
Editor's Note: Southern Baptists sponsor collegiate ministry on 782 college and university campuses in cooperation with 42 state Baptist conventions, hundreds of associations, and thousands of churches. Canadian Baptists sponsor collegiate ministry on an additional 57 campuses across the 13 regions of Canada, for a total of 839 campuses impacted through Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM). The numbers on the accompanying map represent the number of campuses with a collegiate ministry in each state or regional Baptist convention and in Canada, as of the last reporting year.
Roger S. Oldham, executive editor of SBCLIFE, is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.