Currently in our fellowship there are approximately 7000-8000 campus students worldwide. Typically this is the fastest growing sector of our family of churches. Therefore we have invested a significant portion of our resources and attention to campus initiatives. It has been much easier to keep the US campus ministries connected to one another than it is for the US campus ministries to stay connected to those ministries abroad, for obvious reasons. Yet, there is a lot of work going on outside the US to build campus ministry as well.
US Results from the 2016-2017 Campaign
This year the campus ministries seemed to take a small step back. We had almost a 10% decrease in conversions from Fall 2016 to Spring 2017 semesters. As there is no pattern to examine for this decrease (our first decline in over a decade) the reasons for this could be manifold. There is no reason to think that the conversions will not rebound.
One common element that most of the campus regions in the US seemed to identify was the smaller number of graduates desiring to enter the full-time ministry. The fact that this is happening broadly seems to indicate something significant. As a result this issue was specifically addressed during the ICMCs this year. The call for students to consider a life of ministry was impressed during some of the classes and keynote messages. Whether this is connected to lower rates of conversions remains to be seen, but is certainly a possibility. Either way, these are things largely upon the committee’s radar during the coming year.
The current U.S. members of the committee are as follows:
Los Angeles – Stuart Mains Los Angeles – Steve Lounsbury College Station, TX – Marty Wilkinson Seattle – Alex Whitaker Denver – Brian Campbell Columbia, MO – Vince Hawkins Chicago – Chris Zillman Boston – Jesse Ghoman Columbia, SC – Perrie Keeve Atlanta – Tom Brown State College, PA – Jamison Malcolm Gainesville – Kyle Eastman New York – Rob Novak Cincinnati – Michael DeAquino
For the last 18 months there has been a lot of transition within the campus committee internationally. Each U.S. committee member has the responsibility to regularly connect with influential campus leaders internationally. We also conducted a year long survey of the campus work outside North America and are formalizing those results. This survey took much longer than we had anticipated and the results are likely not fully complete. However, we estimate that there are approximately about 3500-4000 campus students outside the U.S. which is about equivalent to the number of campus students inside the U.S. However, there are only a fraction the number of campus ministers internationally compared to the number inside the U.S.
As some of the players have changed internationally we are still trying to find ways to more consistently connect across national borders and collaborate. The continent of Africa has 4 major regions for which their campus work is being overseen. Emmanuel Emeh has long been one of the main campus leaders and joining him in that effort are Jacques Genis (Johannesburg) , Raymond Musonye (Nairobi) and Desire Kouassi
(Abidjan). In India, Prem Jeba continues to oversee their campus work while Ariel Lastrado continues to diligently work in the Asian Pacific. Finally, Moufid Tohme also continues overseeing the campus work in the Middle East. We are working with many other campus leaders across the world to get a clearer picture of all the amazing work going on the universities around the globe.
In 2017 the U.S. hosted two conferences, one on the East cost and one in the Western part of the country. Between the two conferences over 2,800 people were in attendance. Both were entitled “Alpha/Omega”.
The ICMC East 2017 conference was definitely a departure from years before. It was not held on July 4th weekend. It was not the usual Thursday through Sunday schedule. It was not even held in a renowned, bustling city. It was different but awesome.
The location was Ridgecrest Conference Center in the mountains of Asheville, NC. The vibe felt more like a retreat than a conference. The Theme was “Alpha/Omega” and the focus was all on just how great our God is. The main sessions were explosive with the combination of moving worship and three powerful, God-centered sermons: Lord of Lords, The Fear of the Lord, and Kingdom Come. The vigor and inspiration in that conference hall was almost tangible, the shouts of the students were a testimony to their rising excitement and eagerness to please God and change the world.
The classes were impactful and practical. There were ministry mixers and One Year Challenge opportunities and Hope Youth Corps classes. And though the final sermon was Sunday morning, the conference didn’t end there. The students stayed and enjoyed the cool weather of the mountains and the recreation and Sunday night they danced until they couldn’t dance anymore. Ridgecrest provided food all weekend, and even Monday morning so that’s when the students left. Though it was certainly different, ICMC East 2017 was a powerful example of how different doesn’t mean worse. Over 1,400 people were were registered for the event. It was a memorable, challenging, inspiring time for everyone who attended, from the student to the minister.
The 2017 West Coast in Austin, Texas was a great success. With over 1,400 students in attendance from all over the Western United States, our time in Austin, Texas was nothing short of incredible! Our team of coordinators put together some phenomenal worship, some great ice-breakers to kick off each main session, and some very powerful lessons on the Alpha and the Omega from some incredible speakers all across the the States. Our team even put together a live concert of various artists on Friday night, and an awesome dance party Saturday night! Sunday morning, we joined the Austin Christian Church as we worship with over 2,000 people. Overall, we are very grateful to have the privilege of hosting the 2017 ICMC-West, and look forward to the many more to come!
For the past 5 years the young campus ministers have gathered together to strengthen, encourage, and build friendships with young campus ministers all over the US. This past year, after ICMC West, 80 campus ministers came together in Austin, Texas to share about the great things happening locally and exchange ideas to see continued growth. It was only for an extra 24 hours, but the time together was powerful! The unity and spirit of camaraderie was contagious and the discussion groups, prayer sessions, and meals together brought a deeper sense of vulnerability and faith then ever before. One of the highlights was on Monday morning we were able to split into three think tanks based on the size of our ministries, and discuss the unique challenges and strengths of the ministry we were in. God is truly raising up the next generation of young ministers to lead the charge on our campuses.
Over on the East Coast we saw a record 106 campus ministers and interns attend our Young Guns Gathering. Our aim every year is to create an opportunity for fellowship among leaders from around the church. And as usual we saw a unified spirit, trust, and close relationships being formed! Honestly it just seemed like people really wanted to be there. There wasn’t even a hint of tension nor even a bit of competitive spirit, just a desire to connect and build meaningful relationships. We spent time in discipleship groups together talking about how our year had gone, we took time to share best practices with one another, and even broke up into 7 ministry workshops where people could really learn from one another how to overcome the challenges of their life and ministry stage. One thing that we noticed was a lot of green/ripe leaders in attendance. And we saw in their hearts a hunger for more training. The next generation of leaders are growing in size, and are ready to be trained!
One Year Challenge
The OYC began as a charge from Tom Brown and others at an International Campus Ministry Conference (ICMC) several years ago. The program has grown from the initial idea to inspire college students to dedicate a year of their lives to being trained in ministry, to an organically organized network of campus ministry internships, and finally to its current state – a relatively well organized process of connecting qualified OYC participants with qualified OYC host sites. The process is mainly driven in two ways; the OYC mixer at our annual ICMCs, where host sites get to promote their sites and recruit potential volunteers; the OYC website oneyearchallenge.org where potential participants can independently research host sites and connect with them through the online application process.
The OYC organizers have worked to make this program unifying and mutually beneficial. Our current goal is that each regional family of churches has at least one OYC host site so that all regions benefit and no one is simply sending without also receiving OYC participants. The OYC website helps to facilitate this unifying process through connecting our churches globally. We should continue to promote the OYC in this manner so that all regions benefit and all regions contribute.
The way forward for the OYC program is to incorporate the “Here am I, send me” idea into the culture of our campus ministries. While the global connection through the website provides a valuable service to the kingdom – it is probably not the most effective means of providing ministry training opportunities to eager students and recent graduates. The initial inspiration of the OYC was for a student to simply present themselves to their ministry leader towards the end of their academic year and offer themselves to whatever service of the ministry was needed. That could be staying put and helping to build the ministry in their home church or being sent somewhere that needed strategic reinforcements. The OYC site application process has ensured that host sites are will prepared to care for and train participants, but it may also have limited the scope of the OYC.
Domestic Campus OYC sites:
International Mission Sites:
Other Worthy Sites (don’t qualify officially as OYC based on church type or population center)
Domestic U.S. sites:
Our current list of sub-committees is as follows. The data from all of them has been used to compile the whole of this report.
There is so much work to do.
It would be easy to leave our conclusion at that sentiment. As always the campus ministry is a place where many miracles happen. The number of conversions and transformed lives are myriad in their retelling. Yet, our own history tells us these things don’t happen in a self-sustaining way. It will likely always require much effort, much sacrifice, and much problem-solving. This is a year of problem solving. We want to solve the issue of declining conversions and ensure a pattern does not develop. We want to solve the problem of fewer and fewer graduates pursuing the sacrifice of a life in the full-time ministry. Finally, we want to solve the problem of international connection and collaboration. Please pray for our work!