Don’t Let Them Drop—Connect Them
LifeWay project connects students in transition
By Mandy Trammell
The National Collegiate Ministry Division of Lifeway Christian Resources has launched a new Transitions Ministry Website to help connect high school seniors with the collegiate minister of the college or university they will attend. The Web site, www.sbccampusconnect.net, is designed for access by youth ministers, parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers, church staff members, and high school juniors and seniors.
All the information the users provide to the site are networked to the Baptist campus minister of the college or university the student will be attending. The campus ministers will pass names along to churches with a collegiate ministry in those specific communities.
“Transitions” is a term that represents the ministry of Southern Baptist churches to, with, and for juniors and seniors in high school and freshmen in college. “Our local SBC churches are losing massive numbers of older youth and freshmen in college from our churches,” said Steve Masters, Transitions Ministry Contract Worker for Lifeway. “In almost all of our churches the loss is at least 50% to 60%. In many churches, it is as high as 90%. This loss has been occurring for decades and totals millions of people. This is a major challenge for our churches and the Convention.”
Local, state, and national student ministers and collegiate ministers are partnering together to reverse this trend.
“One of the most important ways we are addressing this loss is by helping high school seniors with the transition from high school ministry into the collegiate ministry of the college or university they will be attending,” Masters said.
“The earlier a collegiate minister has the name and contact information of a student, then the better the chance the collegiate minister has of involving that student in the campus ministry and either helping them stay connected or become involved in a local church.”
Arliss Dickerson, Director of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University said, “The single most important and helpful thing a church or individual can do to help a college freshman walk with the Lord during their time in college is to provide their name and mailing address to the BCM prior to the start of their freshman year.”
Dickerson and his colleagues give such weight to this partnership because this is a crucial window of time for young adults. “We believe that what a student does during their first three weeks of college usually sets the pattern for their whole college career in the relationships they establish and the patterns they develop. A large number of freshmen derail their lives both morally and academically during those first three weeks of school with bad decisions,” Dickerson said.
“If we can connect with them at the start, it makes a huge difference in the likelihood of their walking with the Lord and having a more successful academic experience. We can connect them with positive upper-classmen role models and to specific freshmen events that help them grow spiritually.”
Linda Osborne, the National Collegiate Ministry Leader for Lifeway, said, "We are excited about developing solutions to the crises of teens dropping out of church. The www.sbccampusconnect.net site can be an important part of this solution, as it provides a simple first connection for students to those who desire God's best in their lives in the university setting."
The National Collegiate Ministry Division encourages all church members to utilize www.sbccampusconnect.net and help facilitate continued discipleship for young adults.
Mandy Trammell is the associate BCM director at Louisiana State University.