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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Partnering to Reach Smaller Campuses

By Christina Quick
June 30, 2013

On university campuses across the nation, Chi Alpha Campus Ministries provides students a vital connection with a community of Christian fellowship and faith. But for students attending small community colleges, such opportunities may not be available. Jeff Alexander wants to change that.

Alexander is the Indiana District director for Chi Alpha, a ministry of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions. Of the 125 university and college campuses in Indiana, 21 have Chi Alpha ministries. Alexander’s vision is to see a Chi Alpha group on every campus in the state.

“College campuses are where students from every background and from all over the world gather and make some of the most important decisions of their lives,” Alexander says. “Two out of three students on a college campus are outside the influence of a local church. If we want to impact college students, we need to go where they are, which is on the campus.”

Full-time campus pastors supported by Assemblies of God U.S. Missions head many Chi Alpha ministries. Community colleges, however, are often too small to justify full-time staff. That’s why Alexander is challenging local AG churches to reach these mission fields.

“There is an Assemblies of God church within five minutes of every campus in our state,” Alexander says. “We’re working toward empowering these churches to engage their campuses.”

Church pastors and lay leaders currently head five Chi Alpha groups in Indiana. Campus missionary associates oversee another four groups. Several of the volunteers and missionary associates are pursuing national Chi Alpha appointments.

Alexander works closely with churches seeking to establish Chi Alpha groups on local campuses. He provides training, resources, pastoral care and other support to volunteer Chi Alpha leaders.

Alexander is encouraged by the number of churches recognizing the importance of reaching college students for Christ.

“We’re seeing congregations being reenergized to reach lost people by communicating the gospel to an unchurched campus,” Alexander says. “I believe it’s the responsibility of the local church to reach its community. That church is accountable to God for its community, including the college campus. Chi Alpha can’t take that responsibility away from them, but we can partner with them to help them accomplish their mission.”

Alexander says community colleges present unique challenges and opportunities for Chi Alpha ministries. Since students usually live off campus, there is little sense of community. Though bringing commuter students of all ages and backgrounds together can be difficult, Alexander says groups like Chi Alpha can also stand out in such an environment.

“If you can establish a small group or Bible study or something similar on the campus, it can be the place that creates community,” Alexander says. “Often, a Chi Alpha group can be the biggest thing on that campus.”

In a downturned economy, community colleges have become an increasingly attractive alternative to high-priced universities. Of the 400,000 college students in Indiana, Alexander says 150,000 attend community colleges with enrollment projected to grow over the next several years.

“We want to make sure every student in our state has heard about Chi Alpha, and we want every student to have an opportunity to be involved in this ministry,” Alexander says. “Whether they attend a large university or a small college, it’s our heart and desire to make sure no student goes to college where they don’t have an opportunity to connect with Chi Alpha.”


CHRISTINA QUICK is a freelance writer and former Pentecostal Evangel staff writer. She attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Mo.

 

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