One of the most exciting things about starting a new life in college is the opportunity to make new friends. At first a student’s friend circle may consist of his or her roommate and maybe some people they happened to sit with at lunch one day. But when the campus organizations come out to recruit new members, that’s when students really meet some of the fun and interesting people that they come to call their second family. LMU has tons of these of student groups, from six Greek organizations to the Anime Club to the Pre-Health Society. I’m a member of several different groups at LMU, but the one that has felt the most like family to me would have to be the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM).
BCM is a national organization with hundreds of chapters at schools all across the country that all share the same mission: “to lead college students and others in the academic community to faith in Jesus Christ, to develop them as disciples and leaders, and to connect them to the life and mission of the church.” Even though our name says “Baptist”, we accept students of all beliefs into our group and we present the Word of God in a way that appeals to everyone. Some of our members actually belong to the Methodist and Catholic churches, and we’ve also had people in attendance who weren’t very religious. We present the same message of love and compassion to everyone who takes part in BCM, and we hope that he or she leaves feeling encouraged and uplifted each time.
I heard about BCM just before I made the decision to attend LMU. During my senior year of high school I participated in a play put on by LMU’s Railsplitter Playhouse. That’s where I met Kayla, our current LMU-BCM president. She contacted me just before BCM started the next year to ask if I would be interested in leading students in praise and worship music, and I, of course, said yes! In the beginning it was just me and my guitar, but as BCM has grown, the praise and worship team has expanded as well. Now we have a full band of guitars, piano, and percussion, and our songbook is constantly being updated with new requests from BCM members!
Like other BCM chapters, we hold a weekly worship service that is open to all students. We call this “Connect” and it takes place every Thursday night in LMU’s Chinnock Chapel. The praise band leads students in a few songs and then a message is presented, usually by a member of the leadership team or by our campus minister, Damon Billings. Some of our favorite guest speakers have been Dr. Brad Bull, Director of Academic Excellence for LMU, and Nanette Smith, Collegiate Missions Specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The leadership team also hosts a weekly prayer service in the chapel. Students can come and pray with us about anything that is going on in their lives, or they can fill out a prayer card and ask one of the leadership team members to pray about it for them. We also have Bible studies that focus on particular topics in the Bible, such as last year’s exploration of the Book of Luke which we called “Luke, I Am Your Bible Study.”
We also put on some exciting events that aren’t directly related to our Christian mission. Our first event of the year is always a cookout that ends with a campus-wide photo scavenger hunt. New students get to meet the current members and then we divide them into groups and send them all over campus with a camera and a clue sheet. The pictures always turn out pretty crazy, as you can see!
We also have a BCM House located just across the street from LMU. It is partly owned by the Cumberland Gap Baptist Association, but the members of the BCM can use the house as a hang out spot to play games and watch movies. We also gather there for activities that are too big for the chapel, such as our annual Thanksgiving, Christmas, and end-of-the-school-year celebrations.
One of the most popular events we have ever put on at LMU was Pancake Night. We were only able to advertise it for about a week, so we weren’t sure how big of a hit it would be. We arrived at the Student Center and fired up our griddles only to find that we had a long line of starving college students waiting for their free pancakes! Even though it was a long time waiting for the food, and even though we ran out of eggs and drinks and had to send for more, everyone stuck around and let us share the Word of God with them while they waited. Some even came to the chapel the next week for our Connect service!
We try to cap off each school year with a really big project that promotes change in the LMU community. Love/Hate was something we did to change our peers’ views of controversial topics. We began by wearing shirts that said “Love” and “Hate” on them to get people talking and wondering just what it meant. Then we posted banners in the Dining Hall with spaces for students to express their frustrations with topics like school, money, politics, and especially Christianity. We as a group then turned the banners over to write public apologies to those who felt Christians were hypocritical or judgmental, and we vowed to never present that kind of message to others. We also took part in the global End It Movement to stop human trafficking. Many people don’t know that slavery is still very much alive all over the world and that millions of people are living in suffering. We observed the 27-hour-long Stand for Freedom at various locations on campus and urged everyone we encountered to learn more and to help drive out slavery in any way they could.
I could keep writing about all the great things that this group has to offer to you, but this post would go on forever! Plus you wouldn’t have a reason to come to this fall’s cookout and scavenger hunt to learn more. 🙂 So if you’re interested in joining this group of awesome, warm-hearted, fun-loving people, come see us on campus this August, and feel free to email me with any questions you may have about LMU-BCM.