Why do I need to be part of a religious group at college?

At almost every college and university in Alabama you will find a great deal of freedom to determine what your school experience will be like. You will decide what to eat, when to go to bed, when to go to class and when you go to church or to the meetings of a campus religious organization. If you are already a Christian, then a campus religious fellowship can help you deepen your faith, mature as a leader, find opportunities to serve others and develop friendships that will provide support, encouragement and fun. If you’re not a Christian, then a campus religious fellowship can be the place where you examine the life and teaching of Jesus Christ for yourself. Of course, you’ll also benefit from the service opportunities and the friendships.

Do I have to be Baptist to participate?
The Baptist Campus Ministry has always welcomed all students, regardless of denominational affiliation. If you visit the Baptist Campus Ministry, you are likely to find a significant number of non-Baptists involved: Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, members of non-denominational churches…even people that have no religious connection but who participate because they are examining Christianity or are attracted to our ministry’s activities. While we take great pride in our Baptist heritage, we gladly accept anyone who wishes to join us in our mission.

What are the dues? What can I expect to pay?
Unlike some campus organizations, there are no dues required to become part of the Baptist Campus Ministry. Credit for this goes to the many Baptist churches across Alabama who support our ministry (See question #10). Of course, that doesn’t mean that you will never pay anything to participate in our activities. Specific events (like retreats or conferences) may involve one-time fees. In addition, if you participate actively in one of our local ministry programs, you will probably be given the opportunity to make contributions to our student missions fund or to take part in student mission fund raisers (See question #8).

What is that ‘star-shaped’ logo all about?
The ‘star-shaped’ logo of the Baptist Campus Ministry symbolizes the two main dimensions of our ministry and of the individual Christian life. Five inward-pointing arrows represent the inward dimensions of the Christian life, or Christian growth and discipleship. Five outward-pointing arrows illustrate the outward dimensions of the Christian life, or Christian outreach, evangelism and mission. At one point, each arrow was connected with a specific part of our work. The inward arrows representing Christian growth were Bible study, worship, fellowship, discipleship and churchmembership. The outward arrows representing Christian outreach were evangelism, missions, ministry and social action, international student ministries, and enlistment. While these categories are no longer used extensively, the symbol remains to remind us the “Journey Inward & Journey Outward”.

What does your ministry believe? Are there doctrinal requirements to participate?
Because the Baptist Campus Ministry seeks to provide a welcoming environment for all students, regardless of their background or the current point in their spiritual journey, we do not impose any beliefs on our members or require any particular doctrinal stances as a condition of participation. In fact, one of our hopes is that students involved in our ministry will examine their beliefs (even their strongly held, orthodox ones) as a part of their own faith development. Of course, this does not mean that we lack convictions. In particular, our ministry places great value in certain beliefs that have been a core part of Baptist life throughout its history. Most importantly, we want to share our belief that salvation comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

How is your ministry affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention?
A full answer to this question almost requires an introduction to Baptist polity (or organization), but let’s just say for now that Baptists come together from the “bottom up” rather than from the “top down”. Because of this, there is no ‘control’ of our local ministry programs exercised by the Southern Baptist Convention or its agencies; we are a Alabama Baptist organization. However, because Alabama Baptists choose to affiliate themselves with the Southern Baptist Convention, you will see clear connections to SBC life in forms like resources and conferences.

How is your ministry different from other groups on campus? 
Every local Baptist collegiate ministry program is unique, drawing its ‘flavor’ from the school or schools it serves, the campus minister who guides it and the students who lead it. So in one sense, this question cannot be answered. Of course, we can observe that we offer opportunities to students that are similar in many ways to those offered by other campus Christian fellowships. We provide Bible studies, worship meetings, retreats, social interaction and so on. If there are any distinguishing characteristics that set us apart, it might be these. First, we place a high value on the holistic Christian life…the “Journey Inward” and the “Journey Outward”. The main goal of our ministry is not just evangelism or just Bible study, but the development of whole Christian persons. Second, we place a high value on providing an environment in which students can safely ask questions about their faith. We do not impose beliefs, encouraging instead open dialogue and intellectual examination. Also, we put a high priority on emphasizing each individual student’s need to participate in a local church. Finally, believing that Jesus Christ came “not to be served, but to serve”, we place strong emphasis on involving students in community ministry and global missions.

I hear a lot of talk about summer missions. What’s that?
For many years now, the Baptist Campus Ministry has sponsored a “summer missions” program. Through this program, students from colleges and universities across the state are given an opportunity to give of their summer in service to God’s kingdom. The ministry placements in which they serve vary by type of work and by location. Some work with youth and children. Some teach English. Others work on camp staffs. Some even work as interns for various Christian organizations. These ministries take place across Alabama, throughout the United States and around the world. For more information visit the OneMissionStudents web site.

What does the campus minister do?
The campus minister’s primary role is to care for the students of the school that he or she serves. This can take many forms, depending on the need. Campus ministers offer supportive Christian counseling. They engage students in dialogue about the Christian faith and try to offer perspective as individuals continue on their spiritual journey. Of course, the campus minister also guides the work of the local collegiate ministry program, partnering with student leaders who coordinate the program’s ongoing activities. Finally, our campus ministers make themselves available to local churches that seek assistance with their own collegiate and young adult ministries.

Where does the money come from to support all this?
The Baptist Campus Ministry has three sources of funding: local Baptist churches, the local association of Baptist churches, and the Alabama Baptist Convention. Of course, local associations and the Alabama Baptist Convention exist only as networks of churches that have freely joined together to accomplish the work of God’s kingdom. Ultimately, then, the resources that make the Baptist Campus Ministry possible have always come from the caring members of Alabama Baptist congregations.