Kearns explains philosophy behind plan
By Allen Palmeri
JEFFERSON CITY—Matt Kearns, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) student ministry director, became emotional June 6 as he communicated to staff members at the end of a chapel service the reasoning and philosophy behind a restructuring of his area of ministry responsibility.
He was choked up at times as he spoke, pausing between his words as he explained a series of events and the new strategy, which was approved by the MBC Executive Board in three unanimous votes June 4.
The new strategy involves a restructure which replaces the former “campus minister,” or Baptist Student Union (BSU) director, positions with three “collegiate ministry regional coordinator” positions, one “collegiate ministry international coordinator,” and multiple campus missionaries. As a result, some current MBC staffers on campus will lose their positions as of June 30 in an effort to better re-allocate resources for the sake of Gospel.
Kearns explained that the current MBC structure does not project out to helping the Convention reach the 32 campuses and 121,000 college students that the MBC currently is not reaching.
“My desire is to see us reach students for Christ,” Kearns said. “Obedience to God does not always guarantee an easy path. In fact, many times in Scripture it is the opposite.
“I would just like to ask you to pray, because the only thing I’m clinging to is that I believe with all my heart that this is what God has asked me to do, and I’m doing my best to faithfully execute that. So I’m asking for the grace that’s going to be needed and the understanding that’s going to be needed as I deal with some very hard things that are being said. I want to respond like Jesus would respond, and I want us to move ahead.”
Kearns has been researching the issue for several months, talking with specialists all over the nation and in neighboring state conventions to see how Missouri could improve its outreach. He discovered that one of the factors working against success in Missouri was the fact that the state was without a collegiate ministry director for about 6½ years, which created a leadership void.
“We just had a lack of communication and accountability in some areas,” Kearns said. “Good ministry was taking place, but there has been no real synergy or connection around the state to the MBC.”
Kearns was “tremendously encouraged” by the three unanimous Executive Board votes. The period of June 4-6 was marked by misinformation and challenging phone calls filled with accusations that his motivation had been political, but Kearns said nothing could be further from the truth.
“The heart behind all of this is I want to see every college student in the state of Missouri have the opportunity to hear about the Gospel and make a decision to follow Christ,” he said.
Collegiate ministry regional coordinator positions are being filled for the North, Central and South regions, as well as one collegiate ministry international coordinator. The long-term goal is to get to the place where the MBC has personnel on every Missouri campus through church partnership and campus presence. Under the new structure, Kearns said a budget is in place to deploy 14-15 new campus missionaries as soon as possible.
“We are going to equip those who are called to be a campus missionary with a backpack, laptop and cell phone and support them with the necessary and designated budget funds so that they can do what God leads them to do in reaching students for Christ,” Kearns said.