On Sunday mornings, campus is flooded with buses and cars pulling in front of Rodeheaver. Then, by 9:35 a.m., BJU’s student body disperses across the Upstate and even into other states.
BJU students spend all week absorbing God’s word through chapel, discipleship groups and Bible classes. Serving in a local church provides an opportunity to give out what they have taken in and to practice what they have learned. Water that never moves from where it’s stored becomes stagnant. In the same way, students should get involved in a local church to prevent God’s Word from becoming stagnant within them.
Choosing a church can be an intimidating decision for students after likely attending the same church with their family all their life. Dr. Ken Casillas, faculty member in the Seminary, recommends that freshmen visit a variety of churches their first semester to find which churches they are most comfortable in. He suggests talking to your parents, home church pastor, other students and faculty or staff members, as well as researching church websites.
Casillas advises students to choose a church by the end of their first semester so they can devote as much of their college career as possible to one congregation. Some churches offer an associate membership to students so that they can still be members of their home church. But whether you officially join a church or not, it is essential to find one you can get plugged into.
Luke Hollis, a junior Bible major, said he has learned a lot about church management and personal responsibility through serving in the same church regularly. Hollis said, “I have really enjoyed the ability to get involved in more ways as I gain the trust of the pastor and the other workers in the church.”
Isaiah Nordland, a senior church music major who has participated in ministry at Hope Baptist Church for the past three years, said that he has enjoyed having genuine fellowship with the other students who attend there, as well as fellowship with some of the church members. Nordland shared that he has learned to work more effectively with people in ministry through serving there.
For students looking for a church they can be actively involved in, several small churches are in need of more help from students. Pastor Dave Rickerd of Hope Baptist Church in Anderson said Hope Baptist, a place of fun, fellowship and faithfulness, has afforded a great opportunity for the students to get valuable hands on training and experience that they may not receive in a larger and older ministry.
Rickerd said BJU students founded this church, and it has continued on by an unbroken succession of students since the beginning. He said a wide variety of opportunities are available to students, such as special music, leading singing, teaching or working in children’s ministries, serving in the nursery, food distribution ministry and even summer internships.
Summit View Baptist Church in Greenville also needs students. Dr. Rhonda Galloway, a faculty member in the English department and a member of Summit View, said that as a mission-minded church, Summit View would like to begin a ministry for Furman University students once enough BJU students get involved. But, for now, there are music opportunities and chances to work with children. Galloway described Summit View’s atmosphere as teaching, nurturing and loving, and said the college students who attend are beloved by the congregation.
But Hope Baptist and Summit View are just two examples of churches with ministry needs geared toward college students. Wherever a student ends up, that is his ministry field, and God will use him there.