SBTS student oversees campus ministry in Ohio

Communications Staff — December 12, 2008

For one doctoral student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, classroom learning has translated into practical ministry efforts at more than a dozen college campuses around Ohio.

Brian Frye, a doctor of philosophy candidate in the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, serves as state collegiate evangelism strategist for the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio. In that role he oversees campus ministry at 14 schools where campus ministers are at work.

Frye, who graduated in 2002 with a master of divinity from Southern, said a day rarely passes when he does not draw on his training from the seminary.

“Almost every time I hit a college campus, what I have learned at Southern allows me to address worldview issues,” he said. “Spending time with professors helped me most particularly in Ph.D. seminars.”

Frye’s ministry focuses first on evangelism and then on making disciples out of college students, he said. His goal is for students at the state’s Baptist campus ministries to become fruitful church members after they graduate.

“The primary goals of Baptist Collegiate Ministry are twofold: first and foremost we must evangelize the collegiate community. Second, we must make disciples. Once collegiates graduate out of our programs, we must see them assimilated back into local churches where they are not just participants, but leaders,” Frye said.

The campus works that Frye oversees are not all the same, he said. They span a broad spectrum ranging from traditional campus ministries to college church plants. Still other campus ministries are extensions of college ministries at local Southern Baptist churches.

Moving students from youth group involvement in high school to campus ministry involvement in college is also a high priority for Frye.

“We have not capitalized on bringing students up out of our churches onto the college campus. Last year, LifeWay Research in ‘Facts and Trends’ demonstrated that evangelical churches in the United States are losing those who are actively involved in youth groups. At present, we are losing seven out of every 10 students entering the college years,” he said.

“One of my primary goals is to connect youth ministry to collegiate ministry in our state so that as students come up on the college scene, they seamlessly transition into collegiate ministry. Every student should know, ‘The moment I graduate from high school I‘ve got to be involved in collegiate ministry.’”

One reason Frye has such a passion for college ministry is the role it played in his own life. After developing personal spiritual disciplines in high school, his mother gave him three instructions to follow at college: be in church, study hard and get involved in Baptist campus ministry.

He followed all three pieces of advice. Though Frye became disenchanted with the Baptist campus ministry initially, he eventually returned to lead a ministry for freshmen. Out of that experience, God called him to devote his life to working with students.

“At some point along the way, the Lord made it clear to me and cultivated in my heart a desire to work with students,” he said.

In the long term, Frye hopes the campus ministry experience of students in Ohio will be as transformative as his own college experience. He hopes each student will spend one summer working with the North American Mission Board and one summer working with the International Mission Board.

He also wants each student in Ohio campus ministries to understand their faith well enough to share it with a non-Christian.

All those goals can be accomplished by loving the students and leaders he oversees, Frye said.

“You love people toward Christ,” he said. “Ministry must always be done in the context of love.”

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