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You’re listening to The Roundup podcast, a podcast on reaching the college campus, developing leaders, and sending out kingdom multipliers. This podcast is created by the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention and provided through cooperative program giving.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, howdy friends, and welcome to the Roundup podcast. I am your host Mitch Tidwell. Thanks for joining us today. I’m really excited about today’s podcast. We’re going to talk community colleges/commuter schools. This is a ministry to these schools is always one of those elusive ministries, nobody’s a master at it, nobody really knows what to do, that we have some successes, we have a lot of failures, and we really just kind of don’t know what to do.

Mitch Tidwell:

So, today I invited on Chris Cummings, who is the college pastor at Coastal Community Church in Galveston, Texas. Chris, how are you doing?

Chris Cummings:

I’m good. How are you doing?

Mitch Tidwell:

Doing good. Glad to have you on.

Mitch Tidwell:

And we also have Andy Abramson, who is the founder and director Elementum, which is a ministry that helps churches reach college and young adults. Andy, how’s it going, brother?

Andy Abramson:

I’m doing well. Excited to jump into this conversation today.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah man. It’s going to be really good. So guys, thanks for jumping on. So let’s just start here. Chris, let’s start with you because I know that you minister to a couple of different schools. You have Texas A&M Galveston, and then you have, is it Coastal Bend College? Is that correct?

Chris Cummings:

It’s Galveston College.

Mitch Tidwell:

Galveston College. I’m sorry. Coastal Bend’s in Beeville, it’s a different place. Okay, man. I’ve already ruined this podcast. We were just like a minute 30.

[laughter]

Chris Cummings:

Yeah. We were doing so well before this moment, it’s like you just shot it-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah man, train wreck. Yeah.

Chris Cummings:

If you’re listening, I would just..you just saw the best. [laughter]

Mitch Tidwell:

Hang on, hang on with us. All right. So actually, you know what I was going to ask you to tell us a little bit, but before you do that, let me just kind of give a snapshot. I know our listeners, we have a lot in Texas. We have a lot outside of Texas, but I just want to give a snapshot of, we think of community colleges, community colleges in Texas, that it actually makes up over 50% of the colleges and the students that we have in Texas. They’re actually, when you look at four-year schools, we have 778,000 of those students, but we have 788,000 students that are in two year schools. So we see like when we think about college ministry, it’s usually we think about four year schools, but reality is, is over 50% of the students actually in our state. And I’m imagine I even saw some stats in North Carolina that it’s like even like 70% of their state that are in these kind of two year community schools, commuter schools.

Mitch Tidwell:

So when you think of college ministry, it’s really much more than just your four year school, but we also know there’s a lot of challenges with that. So with that said, Chris, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your ministry and kind of your ministry to the community college near you?

Chris Cummings:

Yeah. So we’ve been doing ministry college ministry in Galveston for roughly five, six years at this point. Our primary target so far has been Texas A&M University. It’s the four year college here in Galveston. Big Galveston campus of A&M and then our other focus for undergrad collegiate ministry is that Galveston College, which was a two year program. At this point, when it comes to community colleges, let me just say no means, have we like figured out how to reach the community college well. Like if you’re listening to this and you know how to do that, please give me a call because I will like to steal your strategy. Maybe even hire you to come do this year. But yeah, so like just for us, we’ve reached out in really one of the ways that God’s kind of opened the door for us so far has been through the athletic department.

Chris Cummings:

So the head baseball coach at GC goes to our church and we’re good friends, and that’s been a really helpful open door to be able to help meet some baseball players and people on the team. Same with softball. They go kind of hand in hand. And the nice thing about those two pockets of people is they are your typical college age. I think that’s one of the difficulties with community colleges is more so than a four year school. Your age variety is kind of all over the map a little bit more so it’s not only targeting the campus, but it’s also kind of finding the people that are on the campus that are in that general kind of college life stage as well. But really are kind of inroads so far has predominantly been through the athletics.

Mitch Tidwell:

Gotcha, gotcha. What’s kind of been, and like you said, I think when we think of community, we think of college ministry, like a four year school that has a lot of residential students versus that two year school. Most of the time, like there’s a commonality of, yes, there’s students that are on the campus getting their education, but in some ways that’s about as far as the commonalities go because you have at a community college, I mean, where you’re at, you have baseball, softball, and some things like that. But I know the community college in my area, they don’t have any sports or anything like that. And so the student that’s on that campus, I mean is ranging from 18 to 80 in age-

Chris Cummings:

Yeah.

Mitch Tidwell:

With people getting their education. So it’s just kind of much kind of wider. So let me ask you this question, Chris, what has been the difficulty that you’ve faced in reaching that Galveston College?

Chris Cummings:

Yeah, great question. I would say probably one of the biggest difficulties that we’ve kind of run into is really just finding the common place to meet students. Because it’s a commuter school, they don’t just stay on campus. You know, most, I feel like your average commuter school student is coming to school, going to class, maybe a few classes depending on their schedule. And then they’re just going home. You know there’s no dorms for you to go hit. There’s not a library or a quad for you to go hang out on and meet students. No one’s just playing ultimate Frisbee on the field because at least where we are, there’s just not a field to play on. And so I think that for me is probably just one of the biggest challenges of just, there’s just, it’s just hard to meet people there because they’re just kind of, they’re just not there.

Chris Cummings:

You know, they’re there for their class and then other than that they’re just not around, to compare that to the other campus that we reach Texas A&M Galveston. Texas A&M Galveston from our research is about 70, 75% of the student body lives on campus because A&M Galveston you can’t live off campus until you’re 21 years or older. And so because of that, we know where all the students are like, they’re on campus, they’re hanging out on campus. They’re not going to class, and then going off campus because they live on campus, they eat on campus, they sleep on campus like everything’s on campus. Whereas, the community college is just not that way. You know, you can catch some people maybe when they go to class, but that’s not, there’s not a lot of opportunity there. So-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah and that-

Chris Cummings:

That’s been kind of our biggest hurdle.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Yeah. And I think that is for most ministries is that you have most four years, you have more centralized community. Where is in community colleges is you’re going to get more fragmented community where it’s just, it’s all spread out. It’s a super wide. So let me ask you this, Chris, what has been, so the students that you have had who have been a part of your ministry, how did they get connected? Was it like, just, hey they grew up in your church? Or like from youth and went to college? Were they invited by a friend? Did they just show up? How did that work out?

Chris Cummings:

Yeah, mainly two roads, one being a, you were in our high school ministry, you graduated, and now you’re doing community college on the island and we picked you up and kind of naturally transitioned into college ministry. That’s definitely been one. And then the other is athletics.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Chris Cummings:

Like through the baseball team, softball team-

Mitch Tidwell:

Gotcha-

Chris Cummings:

We’ve been able to grab a few and, and I do mean few.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Yeah for sure.

Chris Cummings:

So, yeah. So I mean, there’s the inroads we’ve made in the community colleges. I mean, just to be completely transparent and honest, not significant whatsoever. Like we’re still very much at a beginning state of, man how do we really-

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Go after this? Not knowing really hardly any students that are on that campus and knowing that they’re only there for a few years, that’s the other challenge, right?

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah.

Chris Cummings:

With your average, I say average like four years student.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

You have four years to develop them, help them become a disciple maker, man, help them multiply on campus. But at a community college, you’re looking at two, maybe even only one.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Which kind of has to fast track some of that development. And so, yeah, so those are all those things together.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah.

Chris Cummings:

Create a very difficult environment to be able to meet train and equip.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Student leaders to go do the work of ministry setups.

Mitch Tidwell:

Andy, do you have something?

Andy Abramson:

No, no. He’s hitting the spot on. No, that was good.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, it is. And I think one of it’s just really is two different kinds of ministries. And I think we’re probably just really have to have a paradigm shift of us as leaders is probably not just beating ourselves up too much over it because it is a hard, harder ministry or at least a more unknown kind of ministry. And so Andy, I want to toss this to you. You have met with hundreds of leaders helping them and in these type of situations.

Andy Abramson:

Yeah.

Mitch Tidwell:

A lot of times you’re helping leaders that aren’t even on staff and can’t even commit full-time to something like this. So in your experience, what have you for someone that’s like Chris, what have you seen churches do that’s been fruitful? Where do you kind of help them begin in this, in this kind of domain of ministry?

Andy Abramson:

Yeah. Well, there’s a couple of things. I think that you need to think about it at the very forefront, and one of the things I think that we need to, when we think about community college, commuter college ministry, I think that we need to start with a foundation of disciple-making not a foundation of a program. I think one of the biggest hurdles that we see is that somebody will come in and say, how do I start a group? How do I start a service? How do I start, this kind of thing that we can get going? And so I think that that’s actually kind of a backwards way to think about it. Where if you start with discipleship first, where then you can begin to kind of build some momentum moving forward. And I think one of the biggest hurdles for, I think on community college ministry is I see a lot of churches just trying to replicate like youth group 2.0, right?

Andy Abramson:

So in what happens is, is that you really are having kind of a heart for the believing student already.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Abramson:

But I think that there has to be a shift, a fundamental shift in the churches to say, how do we begin to view that community college as a mission field, not just try to take our seniors who maybe stuck a few of them that stuck around and create another youth group experience for them, try to create a Bible study, a program or something. And so I think, the first thing is really kind of starting with the foundation of disciple-making and kind of moving forward with that. But here’s what I would say secondly, and you were talking about this a little bit earlier Chris, is that I think you need to understand that it’s a different game. That community college and commuter college ministry is different.

Andy Abramson:

Ther.e’s some things that you need to understand. It’s more transitional, right? That you understand that people are coming in and out that it’s harder to kind of capture. In that I think we need to set our proper expectations for what ministry looks like. So if you’re going to be a leader who is going to look at another campus ministry, that’s on a four year college and compare yourself to that, you’re going to find yourself in constant, like dissatisfaction, constant, like frustration, because you’re asking yourself the question, why can’t I build something? Why can’t I sustain something? But if you can think about yourself of saying, okay, the way in which we do ministry is different on a community college campus. In some ways you’ll find yourself almost like rebuilding periodically. So you kind of build something up and you kind of find these kind of these ebbs and flows of ministry that are so essential.

Andy Abramson:

So when we’re talking to a church, those are really kind of the two starting points that we help them understand is one, think about disciple-making first. And that’s what I love. Even Chris, where I think that you’re in a good position because I know enough about your situation, where you’re going to lead with disciple-making and that’s really going to be a way to create momentum on that community college campus. But then secondly, for those people who are even working solo on a community college campus, you have to understand it’s different. You’d have to understand-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yup.

Andy Abramson:

That your ministry is going to be different than a traditional four year campus. And you have to be okay with that. There’s part of you that has to almost like relish the opportunity to rebuild every 18 months to kind of restart from scratch again because-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah.

Andy Abramson:

You were saying, Chris, even like the, you might have people for one or two years. Sometimes you have people for like a semester, then they’re gone for a year. Then they come back, it’s like so transitional.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Abramson:

And so those would be a couple of things that I would really encourage a church to start with foundation disciple-making. How that proper understanding of what ministry looks like on a community college campus.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. You know what, I put the question out on Facebook. I’m just asking a few different groups about questions regarding this. And one of the questions that kept coming up over and over was is how do you take someone who’s maybe going to be with you for two years, how do you build a deep connection? How do you really develop them? And in here’s the question that I just want to kind of toss out is really, can you build deep connections with a community college ministry? Is it possible? What do you guys think about that?

Chris Cummings:

I definitely think that it’s possible. So the, one of the things about our four year school that we deal with is that the Texas A&M Galveston is a four year school, but in some ways it operates as a commuter school.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Because the transient rate is incredibly high at A&M Galveston. So the culture of the school is An&M Galveston is seen not as like necessarily a sister school of A&M College Station, but as like a continuation of the campus. So when you go to A&M Galveston, you’re a part of the Aggie family. You get the Aggie ring, your diploma says A&M University not A&M University of Galveston. And so it’s very much apart of that. And so what we find is even on our four-year campus, we did a study a few weeks ago and found that around 50% of the freshmen class that comes into A&M Galveston will transfer to College Station either after their freshman year or after their sophomore year.

Chris Cummings:

So even for us on our four year school, we are seeing students transition out of that campus in a one to two year timeframe. And there’s definitely there’s… And that hurts us from a leadership development standpoint and like a kind of ministry growth standpoint as kind of pouring into leaders, we lose a lot of students that we think could be an amazing, amazing leaders because of that high transition. Right. But at the same time through that, even just one year, year and a half, two year timeframe, we’ve developed such deep connections with some of those students that seeing them transition so quick is like, almost like hurtful in a sense-

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Of just like, man, I missed that person. I wish they were still-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah.

Chris Cummings:

Like around. And so I would say that the answer, definitely, I think you can create that momentum. It can create that deep connection with students in such a short period of time. Because even though we haven’t really seen a ton of that on the co community college campus, we have seen a lot of that within the students that transfer out of the four year school that we also reach out to.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s good Chris. Andy let me ask you this question, what kind of misconceptions maybe do some churches have when it comes to reaching this type of school? Are there any false barriers that they may have and just saying, well, it’s hard. We can’t do it. Or what is it? Have you seen anything like that?

Andy Abramson:

Yeah. I mean, you have kind of some of your classic ones that we are even alluding to earlier of just that it, can’t be done.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Abramson:

It’s not possible to do ministry and I’ve even seen some churches kind of come to that conclusion. But the problem is, we’ve seen that as not to be true or even the misconception that it’s not worth our investment. And I hear that sometimes because if a student’s only going to be here for 18 months, is it really worth our church investing in? And we really want to kind of push back in that. And even, I think you were alluding to Chris is that you can’t have significant impact in a year or two. Which you have kind of, you were talking about, isn’t true that you can, in a year or two, you can see significant growth and development of a student-

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Abramson:

As you walk along and disciple them. So that would be kind of a few really kind of misconceptions that you see out there.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. You know, when I think about this ministry, one of the things that I’ve really honed in on, because I was involved in church for a while that was a part of the leading the campus ministry on a community college. And we kind of pulled in our 20 to 25. We kind of fished out of that pond, but that was about the max that we were going to get kind of out of that kind of fishing pond using that campus ministry on the school. And what I think probably what has to be done in this kind of community college settings, realizing that, you do have a campus that is much more diverse demographically than probably a four year school. You have people that are kind of built and wired differently, likely that are on a two year school versus a four year school.

Mitch Tidwell:

And they’re going to be dispersed all over a community or all over a town or all over a city. And so I feel like if it’s, sometimes people say, well it’s man, it’s really hard to make connections on campus. And I would totally agree with that, but I would say that maybe your best effort at actually reaching those students that are actually on those campuses, not actually, maybe on the campus, but maybe actually in the town or the city that that campus kind of is in, what would you guess, what do you guys have to say about that? Is that something you’ve seen or what do you think?

Andy Abramson:

Yeah, I totally, I totally agree with that Mitch. I think that in a lot of ways you have to like broaden… Yes the campus is an opportunity or a mission field that you can engage with, but you have to be a little bit wider of your strategy in terms of how you engage with college students. One of the things that we’ve seen a lot of success in is like even people leveraging their homes.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Abramson:

You know, in terms of like inviting people into the home to have meals with them, to kind of create some of those spaces. And so I think that you need to have kind of a different approach of saying, yes we’re going to engage the campus. Yes we’re going to be present there. But I think we need to look a little bit wider when it comes to community college ministry in order, like you were saying to do ministry in that context.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Like I wonder if, which again, this makes it a little bit harder and I think that’s really the difference with a four year school. It’s a little bit, students are more centralized, like Chris said, he’s 75% of the students at his school or on Texas A&M Galveston or on the campus. But when you think about in the community college setting, like usually… cause it’s always, you always hear this, hey they’re on the school, they’re there, they go on to campus to take the class and then they’re off. But chances are they’re going to work. They’re going to a coffee shop. They’re going to eat. They’re going to somewhere like that.

Andy Abramson:

Yeah.

Mitch Tidwell:

And I think it takes the hard work of the collegiate leader, whoever that person is to begin to identify. You’re probably going to be fishing out of a bunch of mini ponds all over the town or city versus just the campus. And I think that’s probably the hard work where it takes that relational kind of grit and want to, to just kind of figure out where these hotspots that students may be hanging out and how I can meet them, meet them there.

Chris Cummings:

Yeah. And for most people just to go off that a little bit more is like, most people have that spot, right? Like there’s usually like the school, or the place that you work your home and then kind of this third destination that is kind of in rotation that is regularly visited by a lot of people. And so I agree, like finding where those spots are that these students generally tend to hang out in, can very much be where the big open door might be for community college ministries.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Totally agree with that. And here’s the question I want to toss to you now, Chris. Okay. So you’re kind of used to this rhythm of a one or two year thing before a student goes on. So how does you… Cause you say it like, hey I think in one to two years you can make a difference. So how are you effectively doing that in this kind of one to two year span? How are you kind of getting traction and really investing in developing a student in that short amount of time?

Chris Cummings:

Yeah, I mean kind of like what, what Andy was saying kind of earlier is one of the things that we’ve done and the restructuring of our four year collegiate ministry is a real emphasis in our real focus on disciple-making. Equipping student leaders to be evangelistic and to live on mission on the campus and in the dorm rooms and in the classrooms and to truly disciple other students. And so for us, that’s been huge when it comes to helping make an impact in someone’s life in a very short timeframe, if we can get a freshman plugged into a group and then have a leader pour into them personally and invest in them. And in that way, man, that goes a really long way. And so for us, a lot of it has been leveraging the influence of the student leader. Who’s on the campus 24 seven.

Chris Cummings:

And I think that has to happen on the community college as well is they’re the ones that are allowed inside the classroom. And they’re the ones that have access to kind of all the spots on campus that we generally won’t find. You know, they know where their friends are hanging out at. We don’t really know where they are. And I think what you have to do is I think you have to start small.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

And grab a few students that you meet and that loved Jesus and man invest everything you have into those students and multiply yourself in them so that they can turn around and go reach the campus-

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Because you’re just not going to be there. You know, I mean, even this last semester during COVID, you know we had a lean in hard. Our staff wasn’t allowed on campus at all, all semester long.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

And so the ministry that we did all fall 2020 was completely 100% dependent on our student leaders taking ownership of it and leading out in that way. And I think that’s like the probably, I think for us, just the biggest key is like grabbing student leaders, developing those student leaders and then sending them back onto the campus to make disciples who make disciples and that being your focus and then invest as much as you most possibly can in them. And so we do a lot of investment in our student leaders. We have student leadership retreat, but once a week we have a team kind of hanging out and meeting where we just encourage each other and pray for each other.

Chris Cummings:

One of my residency staff, like her role on our team is just a coach group leaders. And so she meets with them monthly to just coach them, see where they’re at, help them take next steps in their personal walk with the Lord and their ministry walk with the Lord, different classes, training exercises. All these kinds of things we leverage to pour into our leaders because we know that the healthier our leadership team can be the more effective we’ll be on the campus. And so we’re investing a lot in that direction. And then through that we’re likewise investing a lot in the one student who’s there for a year, two years.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s really good. I, it sounds like you and Andy have been talking a little bit.

Andy Abramson:

Copyright Andy Abramson.

Mitch Tidwell:

Andy why don’t you to tag onto that because you know what Chris said is like, hey grabbed a few, started develop them, we’ll make disciples and mobilize them to reach their peers. Anything that you would add to that of just cause I’m thinking about the person, I talk to these kinds of leaders all the time that are really, they say, man I’ve just got a few at my church, we just have this like Sunday school class, and I really don’t know what to do. Or Just kind of going through rhythms of doing Bible study after Bible study, but where they’re not reaching people. And you know, I don’t really know what to do with the campus. Like what do you, what do you advise that person sitting in that situation?

Andy Abramson:

Yeah. I mean, you just, in a lot of ways like you have to get to work. Chris has gotten where you’re reframing what success and what ministry looks like.

Chris Cummings:

Yeah.

Andy Abramson:

And you know, even for a lot of maybe local churches that are listening out there, maybe you’re a church of a hundred people or 150 people, or even less than that. And there’s sometimes there’s this like thing of like, well, we can’t reach a lot of college students or we don’t have the people or the manpower, but you might have one person who has a passion for it or a couple that has a passion for it. And what if your church reach five college students, and poured your life and disciple these college students well, so when they went to kind of their next season of life they were equipped and ready to jump into it. Is that a win? And we know that as yes, but for some reason, what we think of is we got to have a big program to be successful, or we got to have a hundred people on campus.

Andy Abramson:

So at a worship service to be successful. But I think part of it is just getting back to that disciple-making that Chris was talking about reframing that. And here’s what I would say, even for those churches who are listening out there right now, there’s leaders and it’s everybody’s, it’s every church’s call to get in the game and engage with college students. It’s not the, just the big church with a full-time college pastor like Chris. It’s also the volunteer Sunday school leader or the college student who has a passion for their campus or their community college. If you can pour your life even to one or two or three other college students around you, there is rejoicing in heaven over that ministry. You need to celebrate that work and really begin to elevate that as legitimate successful, impactful kingdom work that’s happening.

Chris Cummings:

Yeah. I totally agree. And yeah, just to kind of add on that. So Robert Coleman wrote a book, it’s a classic discipleship disciple-making evangelism book called master plan of evangelism.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, I’ve never heard of it, that’s weird.

Chris Cummings:

Yeah right? It’s like really. Everyone else whose written discipleship books has referenced him right?

Mitch Tidwell:

Yes. It’s every, everyone is like master plan of evangelism 2.0, basically.

Chris Cummings:

It’s yeah. I mean it’s so good, but in it what he writes as he evaluates the life of Jesus, I remember one of things he wrote. So it’s like, it sticks with me like ever since I read it. And it was just what Jesus did for the few was always meant for the mini. And I love that because Jesus intentionally gets small with a handful of the disciples.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah.

Chris Cummings:

Not because he’s ignoring the masses, but because his hardest is for so much for the masses, but the best way to reach them is to go small with the few so that he can go after the mini. And that has to be, I think, your heartbeat for community college schools.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Because you’re only going to probably start off with a few and you don’t have many years to get the masses.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yup.

Chris Cummings:

Before the mass is transition out to another campus. And so I think your only hope is really to lean in hard with a few and disciple them well. And I would even think to, another thing is what would it look like for churches, collegiate ministries to start grabbing some of these students, as soon as they graduate out of high school and spend intentionally this summer in between high school and the start of their collegiate career-

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris Cummings:

Discipling them to where they can hit the ground running with discipleship, and disciple-making their very first fall semester at a commuter school. Cause I mean, the reality for these commuter schools is you’re not, no one’s, very few people are traveling to go to a community college. It happens-

Mitch Tidwell:

Yup.

Chris Cummings:

But like there has to be a pretty good reason why if you’re playing baseball or whatever. That may be as a reason why. Most likely the people that are going to be in that commuter college are the high school students that graduated from the high school down the street in the same, in your community.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yup.

Chris Cummings:

And so what would it look like to start working really closely with that high school pastor.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yup.

Chris Cummings:

And say, hey who are some of the people that are sticking around at this commuter school? Let me use this summer three months leading up to it and you pour everything you have into them so that they can go to that community college and pour everything they have into other students.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s a good word, man. That’s fantastic insight. And you think about too, that person is probably, like you said, they’ve probably grown up there. You may have someone in this, you think about your future leaders that are on that two year campus or probably in your high school ministry. And there’s probably a good chance that they may even be sticking around after college. There’s just the dynamic of it is just so different. It’s completely different. Well, so I know that there’s two things that I really feel like are the biggest need of students on at least younger students in community colleges, is one, we know they need the gospel, but two, we know that they deeply need community. That was even thinking about my myself. When I graduated high school, I had no idea what I was going to do.

Mitch Tidwell:

I spent two years in a community college and came away with nine hours. It was a terrible two years. Most people get that and like half a semester, but that was me. But I remember being at that place in my life where I was like, my community, you had had kind of been broken. Cause I had a lot of friends that went off to college, but I was still in community college. And I had a fraction of my friends that they kind of stayed back. And I just think about doing ministry in the way of disciple-making. What you’re doing is you’re calling people into relationship and into this relational kind of challenge relationship. And that’s honestly really what they need. And so building small… starting small and building that disciple-making culture is really exactly what every student needs, is they need the gospel and they need gospel community.

Mitch Tidwell:

And so I think that’s really fantastic insight from both of you. Andy I love talking to you because you’re always hitting the reset button every time. I feel like every time I talk to Andy, it’s like I get ahead, and he’s like whoa hold on let’s go back to the basics. He’s a classic coach that gets on your nerves. That’s always talks about fundamentals and you’re wanting to run like the trick reverse play or something. And he’s teaching you how to hand the football off. You’re like, I’m tired of this. Is that not right, Chris?

Chris Cummings:

That’s a good, that’s very good.

Mitch Tidwell:

Andy is that guy. Well again, if you’re listening to this podcast we don’t have any of this figured out we’re learning. Chris is learning. Andy’s coaching people through it. I really don’t know very much, but we want to talk around the topic. Just hopefully you can identify with some of these struggles, but also you got a few nuggets here that you can implement and you can think about in your ministry. But any kind of last words from you guys and just kind of wisdom as it comes to reaching developing and sending students on community colleges?

Andy Abramson:

Yeah, I would say that the community college campus is an untapped resource-

Mitch Tidwell:

It is yeah.

Andy Abramson:

And opportunity for collegiate ministry. I think everybody looks at us here in Austin, UT, or Texas A&M or some other big campus and there’s 10, 15, 30, 50 campus ministries, but then you go on to these community college campuses and there’s nothing.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Andy Abramson:

And so my encouragement for you, if you’re listening, you have a community college campus, commuter campus in your community, man, that is a ripe harvest field.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yup.

Andy Abramson:

It’s a huge opportunity. It’s blue ocean. It’s huge potential for a mission field and engagement. And so I would just encourage anybody listening, who has a commuter community college to jump in and to begin to build relationships with college students and equip them to be disciple makers on that campus.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s good. Awesome.

Speaker 5:

Yeah. Going off that, I would just encourage, just don’t ignore it. I mean there are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of students that attend community college campuses and we just can’t ignore it. The great commission is meant for them as well, not just the four year university. I’ll also say just, I think when it comes to community college ministry, I think we just have to think very much with a kingdom focused mentality and just knowing that we might invest ourselves hard in a student for a year or two years and see the fruit of that investment at a completely different university campus somewhere else after they transition out.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 5:

But it’s still worth it.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 5:

Even though it is difficult to raise up leaders to pour back into that very campus. If we can make disciple makers, that’s a win.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 5:

Whether they stay on our campus or whether they transition out, it doesn’t matter. That is a win. And we have to think with that mentality of not just how can I build my ministry right here, but how can we build the kingdom of God all across the state of Texas, or the country for wherever these students inevitably go back to. But not only that, but a lot of these students to have roots in the city that you’re in. And so like what family members can you get to?

Speaker 5:

Like what families can you impact for Christ through these students? What, what part-time jobs are they working that, you know, a commuter college person I think is probably even higher likely that they’re have a part-time job than potentially a four year university student.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Speaker 5:

And so what, what part-time employees are around them that you could potentially also be impacting through the investment of just a single person or a small group of people. And so I think our vision has to just be a little bit wider. We have to think more on a kingdom level rather than just our ministry level.

Mitch Tidwell:

Chris that’s great insight. And it reminds me, cause I think about my own personal story. I was that college age student, my parents had started a restaurant. I was running that restaurant and I had a guy who was a 60 something year old deacon at a local church would come in and eat on a weekly basis and just became my friend. And he just started talking to me and he would just say, hey man love for you to come to church. And I would just say, hey man thanks for the invite. And I would never show up, but then like a year later I did. And then when I did I brought four friends with me. And that’s how I started going to church, and some of my friends started going to that church with me as well. It’s just because this deacon would just go eat lunch at our restaurant and just made a friend.

Mitch Tidwell:

And that was kind of how, even me is that young person I dropped community college at this point, but I was still that kind of college age just kind of working. But I think that’s probably that mentality, that kingdom mentality, that disciple-making mentality, is like I’m just going to kind of embed myself in these different pockets of the city or the town or wherever you’re in and just try to meet people. And it’s kind of hard to put your finger on. It’s a lot of de-centralized ministry. It doesn’t look pretty. It doesn’t feel pretty, but it’s worth it. Guys thanks for coming on today. This was such a great conversation. It’s fun talking to you guys and yeah. Just appreciate you all being on.

Andy Abramson:

Yeah.

Chris Cummings:

Thank you so much.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. Well guys, thanks for listening to the Roundup podcast. Hey, I really want to say, if you’re listening to this, please like subscribe to our podcasts. We’re on just tons of different platforms, Apple, Spotify, all those kinds of things. So give us a subscribe like review.

Mitch Tidwell:

And I also want to say, if you want to lean in a little bit more to this talk on community colleges, I want you to come to our Texas Roundup. It’s going to be May 12th to the 14th in Austin, Texas. It’s completely free. You can register online at SBTexas.com/roundup, but come on, we’re going to have this conversation some more. You’ll get to meet some other leaders. It’ll be an awesome, awesome time.

Mitch Tidwell:

And don’t forget to follow our social media. It’s at SBTC collegiate, we’re on Instagram or on Twitter or on Facebook. Come check us out. We’d love to kind of keep up with you and we’ll kind of keep you informed of what all we do through those channels. And we have a Facebook group called Roundup network. We’ve got over 260 leaders in there. We’d love to have you jump in and create some conversation around this topic. Well, friends, thanks for joining us. And we will see you next time.