Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Is The Campus Church Plant Movement a Bust and is BCM Dying?

Asking "Is BCM/BSU dying?" or "Is the Campus Church Plant Movement a bust?" will get you beat up in a lot of rooms. I have not been beaten up lately, so I will take a quick swing at both.

"Is the Campus Church Plant Movement a bust?"

Within Southern Baptist circles, there are some who have advocated that planting churches on college campuses is the single best way to reach college students with the gospel and for church involvement. There are some notable successes that they point to. These cannot be disregarded...some with attendance of 400-500 or more. However, where the "bust" expressed by some has come from is that the notable successes mostly involve large staffs (10 to 25). Those who see it as bust say most any method will work with a large staff like that. But, the most common negative expressed has been this method is not for places where there is already a strong campus based ministry (BSU/BCM) and/or a church or multiple churches reaching out to students. Is this approach a bust! No. It has worked very well in some places where there was not much else ministry/witness wise working. One advocate of Campus Church Plants has indicated there are about one hundred (100) alive and well. It is one of many methods that work. Hooray for campus church plants that are making a difference.

"Is BCM/BSU dying?"

I think where this comes from is the fact of some financial cutbacks that have affected BCM. It is a simple fact that our churches and Conventions receive less money and this has caused some staff cutbacks within SBC life. The North Carolina Convention cut out their BCM ministries. Most outside observers say this was strictly finances. Some State Conventions have cut Associate positions due to decline in funding or increases in the cost of insurance. One College Ministry leader has said these cutbacks to BCM are "collateral damage". The North American Mission Board (NAMB) formerly paid the salaries of BCM Directors in some regions where Southern Baptists are not strong. They no longer do this in order to fund more church plants. So, where some years ago, there were BCM/BSU ministries on about a thousand (1,000) campuses nation wide, that number is now about eight hundred (800). The other side of this is these are some of the best days ever in many BCM ministries. Proponents of this view point to examples like the new Centers being built in Louisiana and Mississippi and the 552,000 students attending nation wide. The new Center at Mississippi State will seat 500 for worship. Have there been some cutbacks, yes. But, a significant number report their best days ever. Is BCM/BSU DYING....NO; but it has had to tighten it's belt and be leaner.

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