By Joe Graham
Perhaps you’ve seen the recent news release that NAMB will be requesting the National Collegiate Ministry assignment at the upcoming meeting of the SBC. I’ll do my best to explain what has led to this decision, what it will mean to Southern Baptists, and what it will mean for us here in Georgia. I’ve been honored to serve as an officer with the Baptist Collegiate State Directors group for a few years and have been a part of these discussions on a national scale during the past few months.
What led to this decision?
Lifeway made a choice almost a year ago to let go of the Collegiate Ministry assignment. What they didn’t understand at the time is that this assignment, along with other ministry assignments, was made by the SBC in session many years ago. Lifeway had to take a step back and begin the process of asking to be released from this assignment. This will be voted on at the upcoming SBC meeting in Nashville. During this time of uncertainty, the officers of the Baptist Collegiate State Directors Association have been in almost constant conversation with Ronnie Floyd at the SBC Executive Committee, discussing the pros and cons of various options as we move forward. Ronnie’s decision was that NAMB was probably the best option for the Collegiate Ministry assignment at this time. In sync with these decisions, NAMB administrators and trustees have been taking the steps necessary to request this assignment when Lifeway is released from this responsibility.
What does this mean to Southern Baptists?
The seamless support of Collegiate Ministry continues on a national scale. What once was “housed” at Lifeway will now reside at NAMB.
NAMB will bring many resources, events, and emphases to bear on this vital ministry on campuses in strong “old line” states, in “Emerging Regions,” and throughout North America.
The Baptist Collegiate Directors will continue to plan the events we’ve led in the past, namely the national Collegiate Week in August, BeachReach Ministries during March, and the National Collegiate Summit (held every three years). We will continue our national Baptist Collegiate Ministry Network (BCNet). BCNet is composed of working committees (Leadership, Missions, International Student Ministry, Discipleship, Evangelism, Planting) which utilize the gifts and vision of campus-based and church-based collegiate leaders across the USA and Canada.
What does this mean to Georgia Baptists?
If you didn’t know all these decisions were being made, you probably wouldn’t notice a change.
BSU (Baptist Student Union) and now BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) are currently celebrating our 100th Anniversary in Southern Baptist life. Nationally, Southern Baptists have known about the importance of this ministry in reaching discipling, and mobilizing the next generation for a century now. Georgia Baptists have helped lead the way for over 100 years with the provision of Baptist Campus Ministers, Baptist Student Centers, and BSUs/BCMs. Georgia Baptists have been committed to this ministry financially and prayerfully all along the way.
In that regard, nothing will change. Georgia Baptists own all the properties where we have Baptist Students Centers – and will continue to do so. As a matter of fact, plans are in process to begin systematically updating and replacing our Baptist Student Centers with new models of effectiveness and stewardship. Our Georgia Campus Ministers are supervised within the Georgia Baptist Mission Board employee structure – and will continue to be. Georgia BCMs are making a concerted effort to begin a ministry on every campus in Georgia – and will continue to do so. We are still committed to reaching, discipling, and mobilizing every collegian in Georgia. That is who we are – and who we will continue to be.
We do look forward to partnering with NAMB in every possible way, as we currently partner with all SBC agencies. NAMB will simply be taking the lead on a national scale with emphases and resources. The soon-to-be leader of this effort at NAMB, Paul Worcester, is someone we know, trust, and look forward to working with on Kingdom-level plans.
I hope this helps explain what is happening nationally and puts to rest any fears that may have arisen in the past few days. Please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions.