Volunteer-led campus outreach leads to increased connectivity

by Kalie Lowrie on November 2, 2016 in Faith

Crestview Baptist Church, Georgetown
Nearby campus: Southwestern University
Student population: 1,500
College Ministry: Volunteer led

  • Free lunch (Mondays, hosted on church grounds)
  • Booster club to attend sporting events
  • Adopt-a-student
  • Mentoring program
  • Bible studies

Three miles from Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown sits Southwestern University, a small liberal arts college with 1,500 undergraduate students. Two years ago, Jack Phelps, the associate pastor at the time, came to Pastor Dan Wooldridge with an idea to start a weekly free lunch at their church for Southwestern students. A couple in the church, Bryan and Cheryl Scott, volunteered to help coordinate the effort - with Bryan coordinating logistics and Cheryl leading the cooking efforts.

The church publicized the free lunch and plans were in place to serve over a three-hour period to accommodate varying class schedules. The first week, seven students attended and everyone counted it a great success. News spread around campus and by the end of the semester, the weekly lunch had grown to 200 students. Now, just two years later, up to 600 students, faculty, staff and administrators can be found at Crestview on any given week.

Ministry did not just stop at the free lunch. Through conversations over lunches, volunteers began developing relationships with students and had an increased desire to be involved in the life of the campus.

Church members started a booster club to attend Southwestern University athletic events. Grateful for the support, the Head Football Coach reached out to Crestview and asked if they would be willing to host a meal for 400 football players and their families on campus. Before the basketball team headed to their championship game, they reached out to one of Crestview’s deacons and asked him to lead them in a devotional.

Crestview began an adopt-a-student program to develop long-term relationships with individual students. This fall, a mentoring program is being launched to connect students with professionals in their field of study which could eventually result in school credit.

Wooldridge acknowledges all of Crestview’s college ministry is led by lay-people in the church. Many young retirees in their early 60s have adopted the outreach and made it their own. The church staff assists when possible, helping with logistics and coordination, but the heart of this ministry is centered around volunteers.

As a result of the multiple outreach efforts, students have begun attending Bible studies at the church and some attend worship services on Sunday mornings.

“In the midst of all of this, we are having conversations and building relationships with opportunities to share the Gospel,” Wooldridge said.

While it is encouraging to see the students respond positively and some begin getting involved in the church, Wooldridge sees the bigger picture of the church’s ministry.

“We look at it as investing in the coming generation, whether it has anything to do with our church or not,” he said. “We do not do things just to benefit our church. We do things that benefit the Kingdom. We want to impact far more than the folks who happen to show up to worship. This is a seed-sowing, Kingdom-building work.”

If your church is located in a college town or has a local university campus in the area, we want to help you reach out to that campus. For more resources on building a College Ministry in your church, visit txcollegechurch.org. Contact Ginger Bowman, Collegiate Church specialist, at (214) 577-7866 or .

Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.

The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.

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