Churches teaming up to reach ‘most secular campus in the South’

Originally published in Western Recorder – 


Louisville—The mission of the University of Louisville’s Baptist Campus Ministry is to show Christ’s love on the self-declared “most secular campus in the South,” John Adams, UofL campus missionary, said. In doing that, they are by teaming up with area churches to engage the campus.

Adams, who began his work with Louisville’s BCM a year ago this month, says the biggest challenge he faces on Louisville’s campus is helping students to identify themselves as Christians in a culture that is completely secular.

“On the University of Louisville campus,” Adams explained, “if you do not support the minority cause or minority push on a particular issue, then you’re looked at as being a bigot or a hatemonger or someone who is completely out of touch with today’s culture and society. I think for our students, the idea is to help them to learn how to engage that culture, because that’s where they live.”

Kari Woods, UofL senior and BCM president, echoed Adam’s thoughts about the struggles of being a student and a Christian on campus. However, she not only found a place of encouragement and fellowship in the BCM when she arrived on campus as a freshman, but she also found a place that taught her to be a leader and instilled in her a passion for discipleship.

“The BCM has really shaped me by giving me leadership skills and a desire to make disciples in that 12/24 window,” Woods said, referring to the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s push for middle, high school and college evangelism and discipleship.

“I see that continuing even after my internship as a campus ministry intern ends,” she said.

“Just being part of a leadership team at the BCM,” she continued, “has instilled in me a desire to make disciples and to build up today’s youth to go to their friends and their schools and proclaim the gospel so that every person may have the opportunity to hear what the true gospel is and the truth that will be transforming their lives.”

The way that the University of Louisville’s BCM is expanding its outreach is through the local church. They have started Bible studies led not by BCM leaders but by churches connecting with students. Campus ministry interns, from Boyce College, Southern Seminary and graduate students at UofL are acting as “intentional bridge builders” from the church. They, alongside their local church, are helping to “disciple, lead, execute ministries and engage students on that campus,” Adams said.

“Churches of all sizes are involved,” he said. “Oftentimes churches think you have to have a huge college ministry to be involved.”

He noted that although they have large churches involved, they have multigeneration churches as well as small church plants doing their part to reach students.

“They are intentionally engaging to reach the lost but also to challenge the handful of students within their reach to be campus missionaries themselves,” Adams said.

With this new outlook on campus ministry, Adams has seen growth, from under 10 students involved to around 50-60 attending weekly worship, and as many being part of a campus Bible study. The BCM now offers ESL classes and other outreach opportunities to the international community as well. Over the last year, through BCM and KBC partnerships, they have seen seven professions of faith.

“The future is to have a gospel presence everywhere. That’s going to be a massive task,” Adams added. “The only way that’s going to happen is if the local church and the Kentucky Baptist Convention is focused on helping churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ.”

That’s our plan, to literally reach Kentucky through our campuses,” he concluded. “As it is, the student ministry is the biggest mission field within the United States.” (WR)