In 2001 I approached a couple of ministers to gauge their interest in partnering with the BCM to reach different affinity groups on campus. UAB was a diverse and segmented campus in 2001 and has only grown more diverse and segmented since then, especially post-covid.
Initially, I targeted three groups on campus in 2001-2002 and approached three different churches about partnering to reach them. We began with students involved in Greek Life, Medical and Dental students and the UAB Marching Band. Some of the churches have changed, but these partnerships are essential in reaching different segments of campus and marshaling more funding to reach students. Today we have 6 such partnerships in place.
Our efforts to reach affinity groups on campus are not restricted to partnerships with churches. For instance, we have a prayer/outreach breakfast each semester for the Army ROTC cadets that our Freshman Ministry team plans, prepares and executes. They meet at 5:00am to begin the process of cooking eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, grits, biscuits, etc. This serves as a visible example of Christ’s love to these cadets. We have been doing this for more than ten years. We have also had joint service projects with the ROTC cadets. We work on Saturday morning and then return to the BCM Building for a cookout. (We have also done this with fraternities and sororities).
Our efforts to reach International students include partnerships with some churches and other ministries on campus. Within the greater efforts to reach International students we also do some targeted ministry with different nationalities such as a Chinese Bible Study.
One thing we do with each of our efforts to reach and minister to these different affinity groups on campus is we have a drawing for door prizes at least once each semester for every effort. This allows us to gather names and contact information to follow up with conversations and involvement in BCM efforts to reach students with the good news of Jesus, involve them in Bible Study, and disciple them. We don’t ask a lot of questions on the door prize entry form. Here is what we ask:
1. Name ___________________
2. Email ___________________
3. Cell# ____________________
4. I am interested in: (Check all that apply) _______ Worship ______ Small Group Bible Study
_______ Mission Trips _______ Speaking with a student leader or campus minister about BCM or spiritual matters _________ No interests. Please don’t contact me.
Looking at the campus post-covid I see a need to engage students through technology. I’m not entirely certain what that looks like yet, but we had 21,600 students enrolled during the Fall of 2022 and right at 5,000 of them are online only. They never come to campus. This does not include those students who take at least one online course. This comprises a large affinity group that needs to be reached.
Every partnership/affinity group effort has access to use the BCM building to host meetings and outreach events.
Bill R. Morrison is the Campus Minister at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. You can follow him and his ministry on Instagram @bcmatuab and @billrmorrison, as well as Twitter @BCMatUAB.