By David Roach
HENDERSONVILLE — A triennial gathering involving hundreds of collegiate ministry workers “inspires us to go back to our campus with new ideas and a fresh take on things,” said Arkansas campus minister Dawn Reed.
That’s why she returned to LifeWay Christian Resources’ Collegiate Summit, hosted this year May 2-4 by First Baptist Church in Hendersonville.
Collegiate Summit featured plenary addresses, networking opportunities and breakout sessions on issues facing college ministers. Among the conference’s sponsors were the International Mission Board, NAMB’s Send Relief, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Samaritan’s Purse.
“God is clearly moving in collegiate ministries across Baptist life, and it is powerful to see the North American leaders of this movement together in one place — worshiping, praying, and training,” said Bill Choate, director of collegiate ministries for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“Tennessee Baptists should be proud of the high caliber BCM leadership serving our churches by reaching Tennessee campuses,” added Choate. “At Summit, our leaders helped train leaders from other parts of the SBC.”
This year’s summit also included an emphasis on the Forgotten 50 initiative, an effort to establish an orthodox, Protestant ministry presence on the 50 college campuses in North America with the least access to the gospel — all of which are in Canada. In a May 3 plenary session, attendees were asked to commit to pray for at least one of those campuses.
The gathering “reenergizes our passion for our students,” said Reed, Baptist Collegiate Ministry director at Lyon College in Batesville, Ark.
This year’s summit included a break-out seminar that focused on the importance of BCM banquets for purposes of fundraising and bonding with the community.
“The banquets are the place where we get to tell our stories,” said Tennessee Tech campus minister Ben Maddox, who led a breakout session.
“It is our chance to really get to know people, and for them to get to know us,” he said.”
LifeWay collegiate ministry specialist Bill Noe said “college ministry leaders love” Collegiate Summit “because it’s great training for how to engage students with the gospel, but it’s also great networking. It gives them an opportunity to connect with others on the front lines of doing ministry on campus.”
D. August Boto, interim president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, told Collegiate Summit attendees May 2, “The college years are a window of opportunity. [Southern Baptists] must be there. You are how we are there. You are how Jesus is there.”
Ethicist Russell Moore was one of four plenary session speakers. In a May 3 address, he said learning to define success and glory in countercultural ways are among the primary challenges in collegiate ministry.
“If we have this idea that glory means visible success and prosperity in the moment, we are not going to have ministries that understand the cross,” said Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Faithfulness in proclaiming “the Word of the Lord is worth it even if it seems that no one receives it.”
B&R — This article contains reporting by David Dawson for the Baptist and Reflector.