This semester BJU has replaced its long-standing on-campus Sunday service with entirely new opportunities that have been created for students and local churches to benefit each other. All students now attend Sunday morning services at area churches.
Local churches have already begun to see an impact from the influx of students as a result of the University’s new Sunday format. Faith Baptist Church in Taylors, for example, has seen a dramatic increase in its numbers, adding nearly 150 new college students this semester. Pastor David Stockard, who serves as the administrative pastor at Faith, said the church started a new Sunday school class for all the new students.
A large portion of the new attendees are freshmen who in the past would not have been able to go off campus for Sunday morning service. “I’ve interviewed a number of students interested in becoming associate members,” Stockard said. “And many of them have been freshmen.”
Not only are these students interested in joining churches, but they are also joining to participate. “My church, Mount Calvary, is very invested in outreach ministries, and last semester several of those programs did not have enough people to continue,” said Caleb Schaaf, men’s student body chaplain. He has been researching how students have been affected by the new Sunday schedule, saying the influx has filled the missing gaps in ministry opportunities.
Schaaf also said since freshmen can choose the church they attend on Sunday mornings they seem to be able to find a church they would like to join in a shorter amount of time. “In the past, students would sort of jump around from church to church, but now they seem to get settled at a church fairly quickly,” Schaaf said.
One such freshman is Justin Walker, an information technology major, who began attending Faith at Taylors at the beginning of this semester. “I visited a few times and really liked it,” he said. “Now I attend regularly and would like to become an associate member.”
Andrew Lewis, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, is another freshman who was able to quickly find a church and begin ministering in it. He attends Mount Calvary and sings in the choir, and also assists in the church’s Sunday afternoon outreach ministry. He says he appreciates the fact that he can get involved for services throughout the day without having to attend two different services, one on campus and then somewhere different at night.