CCO’s Partnership with Local Churches Gets the Whole Community—and College Students—Involved in Evangelism

The Multi-Generational Mission Succeeds when One Generation Invites the Next to Follow this Journey

June 1, 2021

PITTSBURGH TheCoalition for Christian Outreach (CCO, ccojubilee.org) creditsitspartnership with local churches as a key element in accomplishing their vision of seeing a generation of college students transformed by the power of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, reaching the world for the glory of God.

A few weeks ago, Glenna, a retiree and member of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Florida, decided to sit on her front porch to do her daily Bible reading. When Carson, a University of Central Florida student who lives down the street, walked by and said hello, they struck up a conversation. 

Maybe it was seeing the Bible on her lap that made him open up, but Carson told Glenna that he hadn’t been to church since he was a young boy. And he confessed that he had recently been feeling an inexplicable desire to go back.

Later that morning, Glenna picked up the phone to call Jonathan Wagner, whom she knew through his work at her church as CCO College Ministry Director.

“She bombarded me with questions about our Jubilee conference that was only days away, wondering aloud the best way to invite Carson along,” Jonathan Wagner says.

“At CCO, we believe that every student needs to hear the Gospel, to be connected to a local church, and to gain a vision for serving Jesus Christ in the world,” says Jonathan, who lives that mission every day as Director of College Ministry in Orlando, partnered with First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, Coalition for Christian Outreach. He reaches out to students at the University of Central Florida and Valencia College, Downtown Campus through the partnership with First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.

Jonathanand Glenna planned and prayed, and then Glenna extended an invitation to Carson, which he accepted. “This brilliant engineering major engaged fully throughout our Saturday conference, asking good questions and seeking the best answers,” says Jonathan.

By the end of the Jubilee conference, Carson had received an invitation from one of the students involved in the CCO ministry to gather with the church the next morning, and he agreed. The next day, he heard a sermon about the church functioning as the family of God—something he was experiencing in real time.

“I feel better than I have in a really long time.” Carson told Jonathan. “I’ve believed in God for a while, but I guess I’ve felt estranged from the Church.” 

Since 1971, CCO has been working closely with churches, reaching out to college students and inviting them to participate in the lives of local congregations. CCO has found that the most effective way to do this is by partnering with churches that share a like-minded commitment to college ministry.

Together, CCO and the local church develop a shared vision for reaching students, design a ministry strategy, and choose a CCO staff person who will serve as the congregation’s full-time representative to campus.

The results of this partnership? The church is engaged in active mission to the campus and to the world. College students who connect to CCO ministries find themselves integrated into the life of the church. They worship in a multi-generational congregation, participate in Sunday school classes, and get to know church members over meals.

College students trained by a CCO ministry are equipped to be life-long church members and leaders. They participate on the worship team, serve as greeters and ushers, and volunteer in the children’s ministry. They learn what it means to be a part of the larger body of Christ.

As Jonathan reflects, “CCO’s mission is accomplished when—as with Glenna and Carson— one generation invites the next to follow this journey.”

For 50 years,CCO staff have reached out to college students by entering into their world. They are on the college campus daily—at athletic practices, in cafeterias, student centers, coffee shops, residence halls, and sometimes even classrooms. CCO staff meets students where they are.

The college and university campus are the most strategic mission fields in the world, with only 2% of students being reached with the Gospel. CCO partners with local church congregations to help students feel a sense of belonging. A community is formed between the CCO staff and students, who are invited into the lives of local congregations. Through this community of fellowship, CCO is able to minister to the students in a life-changing way.

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To interview Dan Dupee or for more information about the Coalition for Christian Outreach, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.