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NAMB, LifeWay form partnership for ministry among college students

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–LifeWay Christian Resources and the North American Mission Board and have entered into a new partnership in collegiate ministry that promises to build on the strengths of each in evangelism, discipleship, missionary mobilization and mission education.
“LifeWay has more than 75 years invested in Southern Baptist student work,
and I believe our best ministry in this area is still to come,” said LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. “This new working agreement will allow both agencies to focus on what they do best. It’s an important step in taking student work to the next level as we enter a new millennium.”
NAMB President Robert E. “Bob” Reccord noted the importance of such cooperation in effective ministry.
“The leaders of impact in the 21st century will be those who can leverage resources and create strategic alliances. That’s why the North American Mission Board and LifeWay have labored tenaciously to hammer out this partnership that maximizes the strengths of each agency and the collegiate leadership on the field,” Reccord said. “I am committed to do everything we can to see college students’ lives transformed, equipped, called and sent on mission to our world.”
The partnership continues some areas of cooperation, while adding additional facets that stem largely from new initiatives and strategic priorities of the North American Mission Board. The two agencies also will jointly sponsor conferences and seminars “as often as possible so as not to tax students with the cost of multiple conferences,” according to the agreement.
LifeWay’s National Student Ministry currently has responsibility for collegiate ministry in the Southern Baptist Convention structure, and under the partnership will continue overall coordination. It will also continue to coordinate ministry and discipleship strategies.
In the past, NAMB and its predecessor, the Home Mission Board, coordinated with LifeWay on mobilization of volunteer missionaries, and that role will continue. The partnership also includes mission education, which at NAMB has largely taken the form of motivating individual Christians to become “on mission” with God in his task of reconciling the world to himself.
“It clarifies NAMB’s role in the area of collegiate ministry,” Jim Burton, NAMB’s director of volunteer mobilization, said of the agreement. “It is our intention to take the lead role with other (SBC) agencies and with other ministries to facilitate ways for students to become on-mission Christians.”
One of the most significant areas of change and growth promises to be in the area of collegiate evangelism, according to both agencies. With the formation of the North American Mission Board, student evangelism was given a much stronger role than under the former Home Mission Board. And plans are to continually strengthen collegiate evangelism in the future, according to Len Taylor, director of student evangelism for NAMB.
“This partnership gives us the ability to work with LifeWay, state conventions and other partners to pour even more evangelism into the college campuses,” he said.
Bill Henry, director of National Student Ministries for LifeWay, said one of the main goals of student ministry both at LifeWay and at NAMB is to be more proactive in involving local churches in ministry, while continuing to build on the strengths of campus ministry through Baptist Student Unions.
“The difference is the excitement and the intent of both agencies, NAMB and LifeWay, to partner together in very special ways to mobilize and encourage local churches to reach and minister to collegiates,” Henry said.
“College ministry has not been the front-burner issue for Southern Baptists,” he added. “We’ve had a strong program with BCM (Baptist Campus Ministries) on the college campuses. … What we’re doing now is trying to support that, but also encourage the local churches to have an intentional ministry to their college students.”

Chip Alford contributed to this article.

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  • James Dotson