After the Wednesday evening Campus Church message concluded, Pensacola Christian College students rushed out of the Crowne Centre auditorium. In the lobby, Christian Service leaders greeted them, waiting by rows of colorful presentation boards and eager to explain the ministries they represent.
At the start of each semester, PCC holds the Christian Service Expo, an event that sets the stage for students to discover and engage with 55 student-led ministries. “The Expo gives students a chance to meet the different Christian Service groups and find a place to serve,” said Mr. Matt Smith, Student Ministries coordinator. As the event unfolds, students learn how they can witness to the Pensacola community at nursing homes, Bible clubs, homeless shelters, and many other outreaches that provide opportunities to present the gospel.
Each week, Christian Service leaders organize ministries, coordinate transportation, and help train new volunteers. This committed preparation allows students to reach the Pensacola area for Christ through teaching, athletics, music, art, and many more talents. “Our purpose is to share the gospel with our community and invite them to Campus Church,” explained Mr. Smith. “Our goal is to see lives changed by Christ!”
“Christian Service gives you a way to practically make a difference in the Pensacola area.”
All students are welcome to join Christian Service anytime during the semester. “Christian Service gives you a way to practically make a difference in the Pensacola area,” noted Emma Wenger (Jr., IL), who attends the Wesley Haven Villa elderly ministry. “My particular Christian Service has allowed me to make and maintain friendships with several sweet elderly women at the retirement home that I never would have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.”
As they share the salvation message, students can develop their spiritual maturity and leadership capabilities. “Christian Service encouraged me to grow spiritually because I see where God has worked so much in others,” said Michael Wood (So., FL), co-leader of Workers for the Homeless. “Never in a million years did I think that I would be leading a Christian Service, but the Lord has been so good and has increased my faith in Him through it all.”
Strengthened by the biblical truths they gain, Christian Service students advance in their Christian walk and become “the salt of the earth” mentioned in Matthew 5:13. “Christian Service allows students to share their faith,” said Mr. Smith. “Students grow and sometimes are stretched outside of their comfort zone with situations that come up at Christian Service, either sharing the gospel or helping someone grow in their faith.”
When students are balancing a busy college schedule, finding time for extracurricular activities can feel difficult, but Christian Service makes it simple for students to make time for ministry. Charity Eppler (Jr., TX), a regular attendee of Morris Court Bible Club, has noticed that students often mistakenly believe they can’t do both homework and outreach. “I would recommend joining one anyway,” she suggested. “Christian service groups usually meet for only an hour or two, which gives plenty of time left to study.”
Investing time and effort into the community allows students to meet new people and form lasting friendships with like-minded Christians. While helping Old Ensley Park Bible Club, Caleb Peterman (Fr., FL) discovered how easy it is for volunteering students to make connections. “I didn’t think I would get a good friend out of it, but I did!” he said. “Ray McClure (Fr., GA) is a very close friend of mine because of Christian Service.” Many friendships made at PCC endure after college, interconnecting students in a way that only ministering together in Christian Service can.
“It is absolutely amazing to see what the Lord is doing through Christian Service!”
Students often find that using part of their weekend to benefit others blesses them as much as the people they serve. McKayla Zacharias (Jr., FL), a co-leader at Avondale Bible Club, is grateful that Christian Service let her experience leading a little girl to the Lord. “After that, she wanted to tell everyone,” McKayla recalled. “She was so excited to share her faith. Since that day, [she] has grown so much; and each week, I get excited all over again to see [her] and to continue encouraging her to grow. It is absolutely amazing to see what the Lord is doing through Christian Service! It’s definitely something you don’t want to miss out on.”
Whether students focus on a specific service group or expand into multiple areas, each has the opportunity to form skills they can use in their careers and personal walk with God. Colt Miller (Sr., GA) appreciates how Christian Service helped him develop practical skills for his future in music and pastoral ministry. “The most useful category of information has likely been the leadership and organization techniques and practices that I have learned,” he said. “I cannot wait to see how this experience will further benefit me as I influence my world for Christ.”
“Christian Service has influenced my college career by helping me to realize that there is a purpose greater than myself.”
As students contribute to ministry, they learn to appreciate and find fulfillment in giving their time and energy to others. “Christian Service has influenced my college career by helping me to realize that there is a purpose greater than myself and to see the importance of showing up even when it is hard,” remarked Ethan Mallion (Jr., FL), a co-leader for Pintado Park Bible Club. “Seeing the kids and how much they enjoy coming out each week is probably one of the most rewarding things.”
The effect Christian Service leaves on students extends throughout their college years and beyond, enriching their lives with important lessons that will help them serve God in their future endeavors. “A big lesson Christian Service has taught me is the importance of being faithful and not growing weary in well doing,” said Elena McClure (So., MO). After helping Avondale Bible Club and Miracle League of Pensacola, she believes that volunteering in ministry can be the most gratifying part of college. “Christian Service is one of my favorite things about college. I would highly encourage everyone to join a Christian Service and make this time at college count!”