So you’re a freshman and you’ve been hearing a lot about joining an outreach ministry. You’ve also had the opportunity to visit numerous local churches. But figuring out how to get involved can be overwhelming and intimidating.
Take a deep breath and realize that there are people all around who can help you sort out the options.
Most students become involved in a local church or outreach that they learned about through word-of-mouth. If you’re a residence hall student, ask your roommates and residence hall leaders about their ministries. They may have experience and suggestions to point you in the right direction. Also, the bulletin boards on the first floor of each residence hall display a list of churches.
Some of these churches provide transportation, and the boards show when and where to catch the bus for services. Otherwise, try directly contacting the church in which you are interested. Many times, a secretary or staff member will have a list of the university students already attending their services who are willing to provide transportation for other students.
When looking for an outreach ministry, one of the first opportunities you’ll hear about is your society’s outreach. Societies are usually closely affiliated with at least one outreach ministry. Find out more details from your officers. If you are looking for ministries that specifically need help, visit the university intranet. Go to “Life at BJU” and then to “Outreach Ministries” in the lower right hand corner. Next, click the “Opportunities” tab for a list of ministries that need volunteers.
Finding the right church and the right outreach ministry often goes hand-in-hand. Men’s Student Body Chaplain Ben Hicks believes that one of the best ways to participate in an outreach ministry is through a local church.
What to Look For
How will you know if a church or outreach is right for you? At first, visiting a variety of churches is a good idea. However, don’t get into the habit of drifting around.
With both church and outreach, show your ability to be faithful and committed. Once you find a church you enjoy, look for someone on the pastoral staff and ask some questions. Look for opportunities to serve.
Rachel Campbell, women’s student body chaplain, found a church whose needs matched her God-given talents. If a ministry is too large for everyone to have a chance to contribute or if a local church’s needs are already being met by regular local members, finding a different ministry might be best.
Why Get Involved?
Dr. Bruce McAllister, director of outreach ministries, works to make students aware of the opportunities available. “It’s important to be sure you’re in touch with unsaved people to give them the Gospel and not get cloistered inside another Christian bubble,” he said.
The motivation behind outreach ministries is to get the focus off ourselves and onto spreading the Good News we have received. “There’s got to be built in the habit of learning how to give the Gospel, how to reach different types of people, how to relate to them,” Dr. McAllister said. “We’ve got to keep scheduling time to do specific things so that we don’t get turned inward in our Christian lives.”