His informal survey of UTC students earlier this year, said Corey Garrett, was a mandate for change.
While his nonscientific survey indicated 84 percent of students called themselves Christians, 91 percent never saw other students praying together, 91 percent didn't minister daily to people off campus and 88 percent didn't see students regularly sharing the Gospel with other students.
"The student survey gave me an overwhelming realization of what they were getting and what they weren't getting," Garrett said. "What they weren't getting ... was discipleship."
His desire, he said, is that students would understand the difference between being "fans of Christ" and "leaders for Christ."
With that in mind, Garrett began Campus Christian Ministries, a nonprofit organization that will offer students daily, weekly and monthly discipleship.
Daily discipleship, he said, might include an act as simple as passing out Bible verses on small pieces of paper. Weekly discipleship would involve encouragement services led, more often than not, by students. Monthly discipleship might be community-service opportunities.
Garrett said another tenet of the nonprofit would be connecting students to local churches and getting churches connected to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Chattanooga State Community College.
With technology a big part of a typical student's life, the ministry also has launched a QR code that can be scanned to produce a mobile application.
The app, available on the first day students return for fall semester, will offer daily devotionals, news and announcements, a prayer list and a roster of local churches by denomination.
Garrett said the nondenominational Campus Christian Ministries will offer weekly gatherings "for encouragement."
There, he said, "students will share with other students through what they've gained from their campus ministry [and] from their church. Peer to peer is the strongest type of mentoring there is."
College students, according to Garrett, who trained as a school psychologist and special-education advocate, are bombarded with more temptations but have less ammunition to fight them than any previous generation.
"It's not because of who they are," he said. "It's our fault. It's the churches' fault. We have neglected them. We have kept them in more darkness than they should [have been in]. Each generation is going to get worse if we don't do more. ... [It's a matter of them] not having disciples and discipleship."
Garrett said after an introductory year of surveying the UTC campus, the coming school year for Campus Christian Ministries will be one of implementation. If all goes well, he said, the currently self-financed ministry could seek additional funding from churches and foundations.
What's important for college students, he said, is the "consistency of putting Christ daily in our lives" and of "weekly, actively living Christ out loud."
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...