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College Students Aren’t the Future of the Local Church

College Students Walking To Class

College Students Aren’t the Future of the Local Church

Editor’s Note: This post is part five of our series examining the relationship between College Ministries and the Local Church. This final article closes out the series with a word from the Missouri Baptist Convention’s Executive Director, Dr. Wes Fowler. You can read the previous posts here:

I would graciously disagree with anyone arguing that college students are the future of the church. Instead, I would suggest that college students are the present church, fully capable of leading and serving well! I would further suggest that many college students desire to lead and/or serve, and, in the right context, will do so with great passion.  

“I would suggest that college students are the present church, fully capable of leading and serving well!”

Wes Fowler

Are most college students interested in attending a traditional Baptist business meeting? Probably not (I don’t know that I’m all that interested either!). But are they interested in making a difference? Are they interested in selflessly giving and going?  Are they interested in praying? Are they interested in teaching and discipleship? Are they interested in building relationships and partnerships? I would wholeheartedly answer yes!

Why would I believe this to be true? Well, thank you for asking! I believe this to be true because it was precisely my experience as a college student. 

Learning the Word

My desire to learn the Scriptures significantly grew when I was an undergraduate student. I took a New Testament survey course at a secular university in South Georgia, partly because I thought it would be interesting and partly out of simple curiosity to see how a secular university would teach the Bible. Needless to say, it was fascinating!  

The professor was very gifted but did not present the Scriptures as the inerrant and inspired Word of God. Instead, she presented the Bible as a type of guide for life, a source of hope and inspiration, and, here and there, a glimpse of what life was like in antiquity. The professor believed the stories were mythologized and never intended to be taken literally, especially the miracles. On one occasion, as we specifically studied the life of Jesus, I asked the professor directly, “Do you believe Jesus is the Messiah, the long-awaited Christ?” She gently but confidently answered, “No, I do not believe Jesus is the Messiah.”

Believe it or not, this is one of the classes that piqued my interest in a deeper level of Bible study. I was fascinated by the original languages, textual criticism, authorial intent, and a proper historical-grammatical understanding of the Scriptures. Although the professor was critical of these topics, the lectures stirred in my heart a desire to know more! I wanted to learn, grow, be discipled, and become equipped to teach. And, I had this desire, this passion, as a college student.  

"I wanted to learn, grow, be discipled, and become equipped to teach. And, I had this desire, this passion, as a college student." -Wes Fowler- #collegiatedisciplemaker College Students Aren't the Future of the Local Church Click To Tweet

Desiring to Serve

My desire to serve grew in my college years, too. The youth pastor of the church I attended asked if I would help lead worship on Wednesday evenings. I was decent at guitar but certainly below average at singing. He said that was no concern at all to him (which I still think is rather funny), so I started serving regularly by leading worship. In one sense, the youth pastor was right—the students didn’t really care that I was a below average singer; they cared that I cared about them. Remember, I was a college student with a sincere desire to serve, and I was given an opportunity.  

Growing to Lead

After only a few months of serving, the youth pastor was called to another state and moved rather quickly! Guess who they asked to serve as the interim youth pastor? Yes, you guessed correctly—they asked me. The associate pastor explained that since I already had relationships with the youth, and since I was already serving on Wednesday evenings, it would be a natural fit. After a few days of prayer, I agreed to lead the youth ministry on an interim basis. So, as a college student, not only did I desire to serve; I desired to lead. The church recognized my potential and provided wonderful opportunities for me to grow into leadership.

To make a long story short, the church never searched for a full-time youth pastor. I was the “interim” for two years as I finished my degree. Then, after I graduated, they called me to serve as the full-time youth pastor, and they even paid for me to go to seminary! I served at that church for a total of eight years, and it was absolutely transformative in my life.  

Journeying to Ministry

My journey in ministry started while I was a college student. I desired to serve and lead, and my local church made opportunities available to me.    

As I reflect on my early time in ministry, I can see the Lord’s hand at work in so many ways. The Lord used a secular New Testament class to spur my interest in biblical studies. He used a desperate youth pastor who simply needed someone to sing (sort of) before he preached. And He used a church to notice potential in me that I honestly didn’t see in myself.

Valuing Our Collegians

My story illustrates the need for college ministry. For many students on our Missouri campuses, an on-campus ministry is the critical conduit needed to connect them—with all their teachability, passion, energy, and potential—to local churches where they can learn, serve, grow, and lead. 
Now, in my role as Executive Director, I’d like to encourage our MBC churches to do the same for college students that my church did for me. Let’s recognize our college students as the church of today, the ones willing to serve and lead, the ones who genuinely strive to make a difference, and the ones with a sincere desire and passion for ministry. If given the opportunity, who knows what journey the Lord might have in store for some of our students. 




Equipping You to Make Disciples of Collegians & Young Adults

The Collegiate DiscipleMaker is an online publication providing practical encouragement and disciplemaking tools to those making disciples among college students and young adults. Our weekly articles are theologically rich, biblically grounded, pragmatically applicable, and college ministry oriented.

Our Team

We are people just like you— campus missionaries, ministry wives, young adult pastors, and more—who simply have a passion to make Gen Z disciples on college campuses and beyond.


Austin Pfrimmer (Campus Missionary)

Christina Boatright (Campus Missionary)

Paul Damery (Campus Missionary)

Reese Hammond (Campus Missionary)

Jon Smith (Campus Missionary)

Jerome Stockert (Campus Missionary) 

Karin Yarnell (College Ministry Wife)

Editor in Chief:

Britney Lyn Hamm (College Ministry Wife)