Simple Churches On Campus

The fall 2010 student enrollment at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas was 49,129. This includes an estimated 4,600 international students from 120+ nations of the world.

No one that I have spoken with in our community – church staff or on-campus student ministries – can estimate the number of students who attend local evangelical churches, or, more importantly, are followers of Christ.

Even though many students are believers and attend local churches, the number who do not know Christ as personal Savior or attend a local congregation is certainly overwhelming.

This begs the question: How are we going to reach these young people for Christ? While established churches in our community conduct wonderful ministry among students, perhaps we need to think more about taking the church to these students than trying to get them into our established churches and programs.

Perhaps we should consider a new strategy, a new model, a new approach for doing church in order to reach, for Christ, the world’s future leaders who are currently studying at Texas A&M and our nation’s universities, colleges, and community colleges.

I would suggest that we give prayerful consideration to the start of reproducing simple churches that penetrate and saturate our student populations along different relational, or oikos, lines. These oikos lines could be common language, ethnicity, nationality, academic field of study, fraternities and sororities, and student organizations.

A reproducing simple church approach to reaching students can not only be an effective missions strategy, it can serve as a model for church that can be easily reproduced by students when they relocate to other universities for further study or to places of employment after they leave Texas A&M.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about such a concept. If you are involved in such a ministry, I would appreciate hearing how you are pursuing it and how you may be relating to local established churches and how they are responding to this strategy.

Note: The 2000 US Census reported over 17 million students enrolled at US universities and colleges. The 2009/2010 international student enrollment in US universities and colleges was 690,923.)

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4 Comments on “Simple Churches On Campus”

  1. Kyle and Melissa Jenkins Says:

    I am sitting on a campus in dallas right now reading this.
    I am a cpm guy or at least trying to be. Its difficult here in the US.
    But my heart is the same as yours for reaching these students who will go back to their countries.

    just trying to get started here. been coming here for weeks. Need ideas on how to effective meet people.

    its different here than big universities because this is a community college.

    let me know if you have any ideas.

    • tangiblethoughts Says:

      Kyle and Melissa,

      Thanks for visiting me at “tangiblethoughts” and for your comment. I agree with you that the concept of CPMs is a hard one for most to grasp because we live in a culture and context that defines “church” as dirt, brick, mortor, and program-based design ministries. A turn-around will come when the Church realizes the enormity of the task before us, we have a biblical understanding of the church (in terms of nature, function and form), and begin thinking about aggressive church planting strategies that result in churches that penetrate, saturate, and reproduce in our communities and affinity groups.

      I am encouraged by your committment to CPMs and what you are doing on the community college campus in Dallas.

      I would encourage you to pray that the Lord would lead you to a person of peace on your campus (you are probably already doing this). Spend time with that person and network and then network some more.

      If your primary focus or sense of the Lord’s call to ministry is to international students, which has been ours for years, I do have a few suggestions: 1. ask the Lord if He is calling you to minister to a particular nationality. be ready, though, for Him, to open doors wide open to groups you never would have expected. 2. learn a couple of greetings in that nationality’s language, 3. serve the students, 4. conduct an English language Bible study using a simplified English version of the Bible. we use the NIV because most bi-lingual Bibles use NIV. build this study around a pot-luck meal in your home; students love to fellowship and always enjoy being in Americans homes (70% of international students return to their homelands without ever having been in an American’s house). start with the meal, then sit and take turns reading through a chapter of the NT (Mark is a good book to begin with). take turns reading two verses each. correct pronunciation, talk about word meanings as you go. be careful not to make this a formal, official ESL time. use the reading to get the students into the Word. they will ask questions about worsd, etc., that will give you the opportunity to not only explain Scripture but to share the Gospel. I would also try to connect international students to local language cngregations that you know to be conservative and evangelical. The language ministries can communicate the Gospel in the heart language of the students.

      With respect to American students, I would suggest that you look at and consider using the T4T training material. That material is a basic discipleship material but has the DNA of making reproducible disciples and the start and multiplication of churches built into it.

      You may want to check out the follwing websites for alot of great information and encouragement regarding CPMs.ChurchPlantingMovemets at http://www.churchplantingmovements.com and Great Commission Initative at http://www.pantataethne-dot-org.ning.com.

      God bless you n your ministry.

      Scott

      • Kyle and Melissa Jenkins Says:

        thanks for all detailed response. appreciate it.

        I have run a refugee ministry for many years so we are familiar with working with internationals. You can check out what we do here (lovingallpeoples.com).

        The problem for us is how to get the groups started?For us when you announce a group is getting started, only christians will show up.

        As for the person of peace, man have we tried this. I still believe in it but its been difficult to find a true pop. Therefore its hard to start groups because we haven’t found that pop to start the group.

        I am familiar with T4T and all the Dave Waston stuff. We have coaches from the Dave Watson group.

        Its frustrating to hear about all these movements, and hit wall after wall here. But we are still pressing forward.

        Again with students, at this point I need a good way to meet them besides me walking around randomly talking to students.

        skylejenkins@aol.com is my email

  2. Scott Nelson Says:

    Kyle and Melissa,

    I am sorry for the delay in my reply; the last part of last week was very busy. I trust you had a great weekend.

    You mentioned that you have been visiting with some coaches from David Watson’s ministry. I am familiar with David and the Discovery Bible Study methodology. I have also visited with David’s son, Paul, about campus ministry. I would be interested to know what they suggested for application in your ministry.

    I have two thoughts at this point. Number one, I know that you are sharing Christ with students on campus. I would encourage you to keep on in your evangelism. Abundant seed sowing is key to CPMs. Build bridges with people as you identify with them and their needs and then share your personal testimony, sharing aspects of your life that relate to theirs. Being familiar with the T4T testimony, you have read that it is important to keep the testimony three minutes or less and include what your life was like before you knew Christ, how you came to know Christ, and how your life has been changed by Christ. From your testimony you can transition into a Gospel presentation and then give the friend the opportunity to accept Christ as their personal Savior. Build your groups out of folks that you lead and are leading to Christ.

    My second thought has to do with announcing groups and having only believers respond. Perhaps this is how the Lord intends for a movement on campus to begin. Take the believers through T4T. As you do, they will not only be receiving basic discipleship training, they will receive training and equipping in evangelism and the start of new groups. We trust that these believers will catch the vision for evangelsim and the start of reproducing simple churches. T4T will require your disciples to make lists of friends who do not know Christ. They are then commissioned to share Christ with those folks and will be asked to report on their evangelism efforts. Their pre-converts and converts will be taken through T4T and the multiplication continues. Here we see your evangelism efforts being multiplied through others. This also means that you are networking into oikoses and reaching people for Christ that you never would have imagined.

    Once the T4T material have been completed you will take your disciples through a Bible study using a simple investigative method that emphasizes obedience to the Scripture and the sharing of those Scripture truths with others. T4T suggests the Gospel of Mark. This can quite reasonably be considered a simple church as you factor in discipleship, worship, fellowship, evangelism, church starting, and service.

    I hope that some of what I have written helps. Let’s stay in touch.

    May the Lord bless you both in His service.


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