Oct 01, 2018


One Story on Engaging Community Colleges

Jonathan Yarboro shares one story of a church embracing the challenge of engaging community colleges in North Carolina.

Over one million college students live, study and become adults on North Carolina’s 185 college campuses each year. Nearly 70 percent of them take classes on community college campuses. And most of those community colleges still have no church or Christian group trying to reach them. It’s understandable. It’s hard.

University Hills Baptist Church sits across the street from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte (UNCC). It makes sense that University Hills would have a strong collegiate ministry targeting UNCC students like they do. Student Pastor Bo Riley, however, dared to lift his eyes to another harvest– the harvest awaiting three and a half miles away at the Cato Campus of Central Piedmont Community College. It’s been a difficult task. He started with some of his own students from University Hills, using them as a core group to start a new Bible study, but they all transferred to other colleges. Why? The turnover at community colleges is twice as fast as a residential university. He started the group with college students who look like the college students University Hills is reaching from UNCC. But now the group is comprised mostly of students from minority groups and the age demographic dips all the way down to 15-year-olds. Why? Because community colleges attract higher percentages of minority-group students, and many of them have Early College High Schools that bring high school students to campus. Community college campuses organize differently, target differently and carry out a different mandate than residential campuses do. Thus, our strategies for engagement have to be different.

The administration at the Cato campus has welcomed Bo’s ministry with open arms. Bo has found strategic ways to serve the campus and he’s been able to launch an on-campus bible study with a group of students. Bo is sharing the gospel weekly with students who have no one else doing that on their campus. The administration at the Cato campus are grateful for a church that seeks to serve their students like University Hills does.

While community colleges present unique obstacles for gospel engagement, they’re strategic mission fields. A mission field that possess future missionaries and world changers. No one ever said that being a missionary on a college campus would be easy, especially on a community college, but the fact that there are a millions of college students across North America at community colleges who don’t know Jesus,  should motivate us – just like it has Bo – to push through the difficulty so that some might be saved. Will you pray that God sends out laborers to the harvest field of community colleges (Luke 10:2)?

For more information on reaching Community Colleges Contact the No Campus Left Team at: nocampusleft@ncbaptist.org

about the author

Jonathan Yarboro

Jonathan is a collegiate ministry strategist with the North Carolina Baptists and previously served as a campus minister at Appalachian State.