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NAMB again pursues SBC collegiate ministry assignment

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PHOENIX (BP) — The North American Mission Board is again pursuing the Southern Baptist Convention’s collegiate ministry assignment.

Trustees agreed Tuesday (Feb. 15) to advance a proposed amendment to NAMB’s mission statement to the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (EC).

In turn, the SBC EC will consider at its Feb. 20-21 meeting in Nashville whether to advance NAMB’s proposed mission statement amendment to 2022 SBC Annual Meeting messengers for consideration. If messengers approve, NAMB’s mission would expand to include collegiate ministry, an outreach currently overseen by Lifeway Christian Resources.

Previously, NAMB planned to seek the mission assignment change at the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting, planning to proceed only if related amendments to Lifeway’s mission were approved. Messengers to the 2021 annual meeting rejected Lifeway’s proposal to shift away from collegiate ministry responsibilities.

NAMB President Kevin Ezell considers collegiate ministry a “great fit” for the entity.

“NAMB is already so focused on reaching the next generation for Christ and we already mobilize Christian college students for the mission field,” Ezell told Baptist Press. “Paul Worcester, our national collegiate evangelism director, is widely known and well-loved within Baptist collegiate ministry circles, so we already have solid relationships.

“In addition, NAMB’s involvement will help keep an evangelistic focus to collegiate ministry. I believe Southern Baptists want that since this is such a key age group for us to reach.”

NAMB is proposing the following amendment to its mission statement as its seventh ministry focus:

“Assist churches in reaching and mobilizing college and university students in the United States and Canada. Promote the advancement of college and university ministry efforts in evangelism, discipleship, churchmanship, leadership development, and missions mobilization through collaborative partnerships.”

Worcester has referred to collegiate ministry as “the most strategic mission field in our nation.”

“It is critical that we reach this generation of students,” Worcester has said, “and train them up to be the next generation of leaders for the church.”

Other areas of NAMB’s mission statement will remain the same, focused on assisting North American churches in several ministry areas including church planting, evangelism, missions education, leadership development and disaster relief.

Shane Pruitt, NAMB’s director of Next Gen evangelism, has described college campuses as “strategic launching pads to send out missionaries all over the world to know Jesus and to make Jesus known.”

Other mission changes Lifeway unsuccessfully sought in 2021, in addition to removing direct support of campus-based ministry to college and university students, faculty and administration, would have added the resourcing of Vacation Bible School and removing or amending assignments related to church architecture, capital fundraising, and the operation of conference centers, camp facilities and brick-and-mortar stores.