Cumberlands BCM: ’No longer a place to hang out, but a way of life’

Originally published in Western Recorder –

Williamsburg—Training his Baptist Campus Ministry leaders to be missionaries is what Chad Everhart sees as his primary goal as campus missionary to the University of the Cumberlands, he says.

As a smaller Christian university, campus ministry at University of the Cumberlands holds its own unique challenges, Everhart noted.

“We are a Christian school, but there’s darkness on every campus, even this one. What we are seeing from trends is that we shouldn’t be event based,” Everhart shared.

And, since coming to University of the Cumberlands this summer, he has tried to shift the focus of the BCM to personal evangelism and personal discipleship.

Although they still have weekly worship and various events, “I think it comes back to a more biblical model. Instead of throwing out a huge net all the time and hoping to catch some people in it, each person is intentionally making disciples, and that’s really how we’re going to reach the campus—everyone doing their part, instead of just a handful of people,” Everhart explained.

At the BCM leadership’s fall retreat, he told the students, “There is no hierarchy to this leadership. We will have no president or any officers. You’re all equal for one, but you’re not even going to be called leaders, you’re going to be called campus missionaries.”

After some vision casting, the students—many of whom were returning leadership—-began to get excited about the new model.

By the end of the retreat, each of the 16 student BCM leaders had identified a “people group” to reach on campus, such as their dorm, the music department, or the wrestling team.

One example of this model producing fruit on campus is through what they call “gospel appointments.”

“What we’ve had students doing is trying to be really intentional about trying to engage people they don’t know, striking up conversations with them in the cafeteria or grille and seeing if they’d be interested in talking about spiritual or godly things,” Everhart explained. “However, they lead into that as they are having small talk, they see if they’d like to get together and talk about it a little more.”

This new model was even used to follow-up with the hundreds of students that made some sort of decision for Christ during opening convocation.

“I can’t follow up with a couple hundred people, but I can take 16 and separate that out and follow up with them. So, they’ve been able to talk to people about next steps and about what it really means to walk with Christ,” Everhart shared.

“BCM has gone through a lot of change in the past two years. Now, as a senior, I am sad I have to leave just when things are getting good here,” graduating senior Aaron Brewer shared. “Chad has redefined this ministry and pushed it in a new direction.

“He has streamlined our event calendar. We have a few missions and goals, and we are focusing on doing a few things to the best of our ability, rather than doing a lot of things mediocre,” Brewer said.

Everything they do is centered on the gospel, Brewer added. “There is nothing we can do to make the gospel more relevant to people; people simply need Jesus.

“BCM is no longer a place to hang out, it is more of a way of life,” he said. “We are a support, training and launching pad for students and churches to do missions on campus. We organize and serve other groups on campus, and we help in any way we can.”

In accordance with what the Kentucky Baptist Convention is emphasizing in student ministry, the BCM at University of the Cumberlands also is focusing on students getting involved in local churches and local churches getting involved with the campus.

“The ultimate goal,” Everhart maintains, “is to really train students to make disciples and get them active in the process. Really, they are critical people in helping to reach the lost on any campus, but especially this campus.” (WR)