A few years ago a Bryan Cheryl Scott, members at Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown, felt called to reach out to a local campus. They constructed a plan, recruited some volunteers and began serving lunch to students from Southwestern University once a week. That first semester a regular group of about 13 students came to lunch. This fall volunteers at Crestview have served lunch to as many as 600 students each week.
The lunch is run entirely by forty to fifty church members that volunteer their time and resources to minister to college students. Associate Pastor Robert Stephens explains that only a third of the cost for the lunch comes from the church budget. The rest is given by those who are committed to this ministry. Volunteers cook Sunday and Monday and serve the students at lunchtime on Monday.
Publicity for the lunch has been strictly word of mouth. The church emails presidents of the student organizations and relies on the students to share the word on campus. And this year, even faculty have been coming to lunch. The church is careful to offer vegan/vegetarian options on their weekly menu. Students have appreciated their consideration.
The weekly lunch has led to other doors for ministry opening on the campus.
Crestview has started booster clubs for all athletic groups on campus. Church members adopt a sport and recruit other members to attend those sporting events, cheer on the team and provide encouragement to the coaching staff. They also have provided mentoring relationships for some teams. Recently, the church has been asked to take on a professional mentorship program, pairing students with someone in the professional field for which they are preparing. So far, 26 students have enrolled in the program. The English department is also integrating students from their ESL education program into the ESL program that the church provides for the community.
After 3 years of investing in the ministry, Crestview is aware that they are serving in the name of Jesus. "We were not who they expected us to be, and they were not who we expected them to be," says Stephens. They are just now beginning to see a few students attend church activities, and that's okay. They are focused on building relationships with students and faculty. Stephens says they are amazed at the doors God has opened up for them.