‘In Order to Survive and Someday Thrive as a Church, We Had to Relearn How to Reach Students,’ Local Pastor Tells CCO
August 30, 2021
PITTSBURGH— A small church in Columbus, Ohio, the Indianola Church of Christ struggled with congregation growth. With a congregation in their 60’s on average, Pastor Mike Richardson was unsure of the next steps for a church that had few children and young adults. Who would be the next generation of believers to continue the church’s mission?
“We were a very old church whose best years were in the distant past,” Richardson stated. “Yet we were located two blocks from Ohio State University. We realized that in order to survive and someday thrive as a church, we had to relearn how to reach students and pass our faith along to the next generation of church leaders.”
This is how Richardson and the Indianola Church of Christ connected with Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO). CCO firmly believes that the college and university campus is the most influential mission field in the world, and for a church that was struggling to breathe new life into its outreach, this was an invaluable resource.
Dan Dupee, former Chairman of the Board for CCO, stated, “Many churches across America struggle to connect with college students and other young adults because they are dealing with different issues than the older members of the church. It can be daunting to consider the adjustments necessary to reach that demographic, but CCO can provide the right tools to make that crucial step forward. If we as the Church don’t take the effort to reach college students during such a key point in their lives, we are missing a unique opportunity to spread the Gospel.”
Rather than hope that college students find their way to local churches, CCO heads right to the source—college campuses. By meeting the students where they are and connecting them to local churches like Indianola Church of Christ, CCO is able to have a bigger impact on the lives of these students and encourage them to foster a relationship with Christ.
For Richardson and the Indianola Church of Christ, the partnership with CCO was monumental. “Investing in the lives of college students is probably the greatest thing our church could ever have done,” Richardson said. “It has been a great joy to become an increasingly multigenerational church, watching college students worshiping, fellowshipping, and serving alongside senior adults.
“None of this would have happened without the leadership of CCO staff. God has blessed us with two leaders who are fully committed to the goals and mission of a partnership between a campus ministry and a local church. The vision of what a partnership with the CCO can bring to a local church is a very real vision. We have seen it come to life at Indianola—and we are still at the beginning stages of what this transformation will bring.”
For 50 years,CCO staff have reached out to college students by entering into their world. But this is only part of the story. CCO partners with local churches, so that college students who connect to CCO ministries find themselves integrated into the life of their local church, where they worship in a multi-generational congregation, participate in Sunday school classes, and get to know church members over meals.
The college and university campus are the most strategic mission fields in the world, with only 2 percent 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 students in a life-changing way.
To learn more about Coalition for Christian Outreach, and how individuals and churches may become involved with CCO on university and college campuses, visitwww.CCOJubilee.org.
To interview a representative from Coalition for Christian Outreach, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.