Written by Austin Burgess

Hey there, Austin here! I was asked to write a small blog post to explain the reasons I decided to join the Baptist Collegiate Ministry and stay with it these few years. Sooooo I am going to do that. I hope it provides an illuminating example as to why you might do the same.

The BCM is an on-campus organization dedicated to equipping young students with the skills to pursue Christ and helping them make him known throughout the campus. Those purposes are accomplished by engrossing students in the Gospel, surrounding them with like-minded Christians, and encouraging students to go out and share their beliefs with people on-campus. In pursuit of this, we have events, small weekly bible study groups, and larger worship gatherings. All these things bring us into a greater sense of community and fellowship where we begin to form long-lasting friendships and grow as Christians together.

These things are amazing! They provide growth, community, and an outpouring of love. So many people from our generation suffer from a lack of these essential components of life. The way God wired us, we need these things. I have found that the BCM provides all these. What a wonderful place to be! Inside of the BCM I have found such great community and meaning. It is a place for belonging and for deepening of faith. I’ll talk about the facets in which I discovered all these things shortly, but first I would like to encourage you to not get lost in the temporal things like friends and fun… but to look beyond and consider the ways in which these things bring glory to God and to show his love and grace to others through the relationships we have with them. Let the goodness in our friendships and the communities we form point to the greater goodness God has given us in Christ by his living and dying for us perfectly.

Growth has been a constant since I’ve been involved at the BCM in both personal spiritual strength and in service to others. The BCM offers individuals the opportunity to have purposeful growth in their relationship with Christ. We pursue that growth by gathering together in things we call “Villages.” Villages are weekly small-groups where students come and study the Bible. We gather, eat some snacks, open up The Word, pray, and just share life together as we see what God’s word means and how we can apply that in our lives each day. We dive into the ways in which we can show the love of Christ to each other and to the campus and world at large. In this, we become great friends within the group; a great sense of togetherness comes throughout the year. We grow to love and appreciate one another. While the community gained by this is good, better so are the ways in which we can influence this world for God’s purposes.

My growth in this has come from my interactions with God’s word and with the people around me: from my talking to, sharing life with, and honest loving of who they are. My growth is derived from others and the ways I get to serve them. This past year I got to be a Village Leader which allowed me to dig deeper into the meaning and application of the passages we read each week. Learning these things and teaching it to others helped me grow closer to God and those in my village. I would encourage every person to find one village where they can “plug in” and get involved. It gives such a breadth of experience to the year.

Those things, I believe, are vital to why I stuck with the BCM. I wasn’t just sitting there idly waiting for the opportunity to do something. They sought out people ready to help and gave them the opportunity to do so. For me, that was helping set up our larger gatherings, and later, it was being a village leader. The BCM gives that chance to those who desire it, engaging people in multiple avenues.

The sense of community I have found inside the BCM is amazing! So many good people to get to know and share friendships with. These people are some of the best on campus to have as close companions through college and life. They’re loving, kind, and they make a point to care about who you are as a person. This, combined with what we as a BCM do to build that community up, makes for long-lasting friendships that develop over the many years you’ll know each other. Will you be friends with everyone? Not likely, but will you get close? Yeah. The people you end up having village with become friends of choice and not of convenience if you intentionally spend time with them and develop that relationship. With those people you’ll find time outside of the events we do together to talk, hang out, and just live life together. For instance, last year me and one of my villagers, Jared, went out to the Student Technology Center and just played around with their VR headset for an afternoon. It was a good time just to talk to him and get to know him on a better and more personal level. Additionally, there’s just something special about sharing a meal together… which is something you get to do at “Gatherings.”

Like the name suggests, Gatherings are when we gather up all our villages and usually learn something from the word about some particular topic. They are one of my favorite times during the year (they happen about once every other month or so). We eat, laugh, and learn from The Word: mixing community and spiritual growth together in a way that is God-glorifying. Before and after Gatherings, BCMers have the opportunity to catch up and serve each other by setting up or tearing down all the chairs and equipment. Again, another great mix of community and growth. Besides these gatherings, we often meet up to go do something fun! Like a trampoline park! Or hiking! Or a million other things! All of these I’ve been blessed with the chance to participate in. If those aren’t your speed, we’ve had pumpkin painting time, banquets, and game nights. The whole nine yards. Though we aren’t fueled only by such events, we recognize their effects and benefits for fostering community.

Lastly, the reason I chose to join and stick with this BCM is the outpouring of love I see from it every year. God made us to need growth, community, and especially love. He made us to crave it and dispense it freely. That God-honoring purpose is something I have seen lived out time and time again here. We do all our events, villages, gatherings, etc. and from that we grow to be friends who will stick with each other through thick and thin, trial and adversity, good times and bad. Just this last year, my former village leader (and then co-leader) had a brain tumor. We gathered as a BCM to go do something she loved to do in an effort to raise some money for her, which was swing dancing. Well over 30 people showed up in a display of love and appreciation for her. It was a fun time and well worth it. Beyond things like that, we pray for each other each week, admonish each other, and praise the God-given gifts that we see displayed for his glory. We care about each other. That’s more than I can say for most other groups I’ve been a part of. I think that’s worth quite a lot. Love forms and is displayed constantly inside of this BCM.

For all these reasons and more, I believe you should heavily consider linking arms with us together for the cause of Christ on our campus. Not just for the wonderful growth, community, and love I’ve outlined here, but more so that God’s love may be felt for this campus and these people who need to know him and know their savior so desperately. Christians are not meant to do that alone, so don’t go at it by yourself. Come join us, stick with us, and be obedient to what God calls you to do each day. Love each other, love The Lord, and let us do that with you!

I hope all these meagre words have provided some ample reasoning as to why I have decided to stick it out with this BCM thus far. I plan to continue in such a fashion as it has proven fruitful and fun! And maybe this has even persuaded you to consider it. If so… see you soon!

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