Campus Life Returns to Center Grove
Writer / Kris Parker . Photographer / Forrest Mellott
Just across from Center Grove High School, on the other side of Morgantown Road, stands a light brown building that was formerly part of an orchard; this is the “new” Campus Life building.
New Building, New Coach
For those of you who recall Campus Life’s involvement at Center Grove in years past, the ministry has a fresh start in the area with a new Campus Life Coach and a new facility to boot. This is where you can find Bryan Anderson, the Campus Life Coach for Center Grove.
For a Campus Life group to actually have a building is something of an anomaly, as most other locations do not have their own personal space; those groups meet in private homes, on school grounds after hours, in park buildings or in other public spaces. “This building is a gift and an opportunity,” he said. “We want to utilize the space but also don’t want to sit back and expect people to come to us. We want to go to where the people are.” And because this space is so extensive, it is not only home to Campus Life, but will also eventually house a branch of Parent Life … a relational ministry seeking to change the lives of young parents and their children through mentoring relationships.
Campus Life is a branch of Youth for Christ, which is a national ministry organization. According to the mission statement, the purpose of Youth for Christ is to reach “young people everywhere, working with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.”
Campus Life fits into the Youth for Christ mission through its creative programs to help young people make good choices and establish a solid foundation for life. It gives students a place to hang out, have fun, make friends and talk about things that are important to them. They also enjoy “Club” once a week, which is an opportunity for students to come together in worship.
As a new staff member with Campus Life, Anderson is no stranger to the organization. He first connected with Campus Life as a youth in Alma, Michigan, but at the time, he did not see his future in full-time ministry work. After graduating from Taylor University with a double major in Sports Management and Finance, he went on work for the Indiana Pacers.
Last fall, he began to feel called to something else and opted to leave what he considered his dream job. “I’ve always enjoyed working with children, whether it was in an orphanage in Ethiopia, being a summer camp counselor or as a basketball coach,” said Anderson. “I realized how much people had invested in me through Campus Life when I was younger, so I wanted to invest in the lives of kids in the same way.”
Since arriving in Greenwood, Anderson has jumped into the community with both feet by networking with individuals, organizations and churches to garner partnership in ministry. In addition, he has been greeted warmly at Center Grove High School, being allowed to visit with students during the lunch hour one day a week and substitute teaching whenever the opportunity presents itself. “We understand that to be in the school is a privilege, not a right. Campus Life wants to be an asset to the school and assist in any way we can,” said Anderson.
Anderson’s role while at the school is to simply develop a relationship with students. “I just want to be present in their lives … to be there and support them however I can. People did that for me, and I want to do it for them. I grew up in a Christian home but also had other people in my life to mentor me,” he said.
Need for Support
Anderson clearly stated that one person cannot do this ministry; it requires the involvement and commitment of volunteers. “We need a team of volunteers for Campus Life,” he said. “People have different connecting points with kids. I often connect with them through sports, but other people connect in different ways.”
He also admits that not everyone has the gift of working with youth. However, he quickly added, “There are many other opportunities to help out. I want to meet people where they are and engage them in the ministry. I want to find out what people’s interests are and plug them into the ministry where they are passionate.”
One of Anderson’s volunteers, Adam Gaff, teaches Spanish at Center Grove High School; he has been working with Campus Life for eight years. “People can jump in at any time and can support the ministry through a variety of ways. They can give of their time by mentoring a small group of teens, come to volunteer at our weekly gathering and/or walk beside a student one-on-one. There are ways that people can pray for the ministry too. People could also volunteer at the organizational level or give financially to the local ministry site,” Gaff said.
Kraig Kitts, another volunteer for Campus Life and a science teacher at the high school, added, “We liked the idea of being involved because we have volunteered as youth group workers before and really enjoy being around teenagers and reaching out to them. We have stayed involved because we want to see this grow within our community and create a place for teens to come and grow together to make our community stronger.”
In addition to needing volunteers, Anderson is interested in casting his vision further and networking for financial support. For more information on working with Bryan and Campus Life, visit the website at ciyfc.org.