Students in college today face tremendous pressures. These include sexual temptation, loneliness, accumulating college debt, academic stress, disconnect with their family, technology and information overload, as well as increasing hostility toward the Christian faith.
Regarding this last issue, consider the example of Professor Bart Ehrman, a religion professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Professor Ehrman is a “celebrity skeptic” who, both in the classroom and in his writings, as well as popular talk shows, spreads his message of doubt about the Bible and the historic Christian faith.
Ehrman himself claims to have been a devoted evangelical Christian who attended Moody Bible Institute. He said by discovering so-called errors in the Bible, he eventually lost his faith, and now he seems to see it as his duty to “help” others lose their faith, as well.
Amid the backdrop of such skepticism run amok, Christians of college age—and really every age—must become increasingly familiar with challenges to the Bible and our faith. We must know why we believe what we believe. We must embrace all of the best aspects of apologetics.
There is good work being done by theologians and professors, including Timothy Paul Jones of Southern Seminary, to debunk Ehrman’s errors. Moreover, there are longstanding and newer-to-the-scene apologetics experts, like Greg Koukl, Frank Turek, Sean McDowell and of course C.S. Lewis, whom we can and should lean on.
In addition to this, these challenges to college students underscore the importance of another aspect of ministry, namely the work of Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM).
BCM is increasingly important in Oklahoma and the rest of the country. Thanks to the generosity of Oklahoma Baptists giving through the Cooperative Program, we are blessed to have a ministry presence on nearly 40 campuses across the state, and stand on a great legacy of BSU work from decades past.
In some ways, our BCM workers are, by essence, campus missionaries, serving as the bridge between the local church and the college campus. As someone who was not very faithful in church attendance during my college years, and as someone who attended the largest secular university in the state, where Christian virtues and truth are challenged, I have a special appreciation for those who labor in collegiate ministry work.
If college campuses are the greatest unreached mission field in America today, as someone recently said, with tens of millions of young people waiting to hear the Gospel, why wouldn’t we go into this mission field?
College students, most often, are looking for a place to belong. They miss the familiarity of their adolescence, and will generally go where they feel welcome. Why don’t we, as the Church, open wide the arms of the Lord and welcome them into the community of Christ?
College students are also impressionable. They are looking for something or someone to believe in, and many have never heard the Good News. By having an active presence on college campuses, like BCM does, the door is opened to having Gospel conversations.
For every Ehrman, let’s have droves of Christians who hold the truth and light of the Gospel in their hands. Let’s not wait for the college students to come to us. Let’s take this life-saving message to them, to every person on every campus.