Why Gateway Church chooses to partner with CCO to minister to college students: An interview with Craig Cramer
Gateway Church is an EPC congregation in Findlay, Ohio. Gateway Church partners with the CCO to reach out to students at the University of Findlay, Bluffton University, and Owens Community College. Craig Cramer is the Teaching Pastor at Gateway Church.
Why does Gateway EPC choose to partner with the CCO?
Gateway has a heart for the next generation. A large percentage of the younger generation is unchurched. When I was introduced to the CCO through the EPC, Gateway found it to be a match made in heaven. Our elders supported this mission work since CCO is reformed in theology and focused on developing disciples in the local church.
Why is Gateway committed to ministry to college students?
Many churches connect with the older generation through their ministry focus. Not too many churches connect with the younger generation, especially college students. The Gateway leadership believes we are called to target the next generation. Therefore, we have invested time, energy and money towards that goal.
What has been the benefit of having CCO staff members working with you and with students at the University of Findlay and other nearby campuses?
For over five years now, we have had a full-time CCO missionary focused on connecting college students to Christ and His church. We already had college students attending our services and involved in our ministries, but that number has multiplied over the past five years or so. Mike Barnhart, who served with us through CCO for four years, and Bill Corbin, who has been serving here through CCO for the past year and a half, have been great ambassadors for Christ, CCO, and Gateway Church. God has used these men and CCO in our community in mighty ways.
Do congregation members participate in the ministry to students? If yes, how?
Yes, we have older and younger adults who are beyond college age who serve as a team to minister to college students. Their participation multiplies the impact beyond just the CCO staff.
How does your congregation draw students into the life of the church?
Our church draws students to Gateway and to Christ through the presence of a ministry on campus. Gateway rents a large home across the street from the University of Findlay campus which serves as a home base for the ministry. Much outreach to students takes place there—meals, studies, events, life groups, etc.—and then students are invited to attend Gateway. When they come to Gateway, they experience a modern worship experience with Word-centered teaching for everyday life. The students are challenged to become active in the church as a whole through service and membership. The ministry has produced great fruit. Thank you, CCO, for what you have done for our community of faith!