Campus ministry is nothing new, and though the message may be the same the mission is evolving.
The Baptist Student Union in Maryville is one of several denominational organizations serving students at Northwest Missouri State University in ways that place a high priority on both faith and fellowship.
"It's what everyone needs — relationships," said BSU Campus Minister Jason Yarnell. "Some students go Greek, some do nothing, some party. It's been shown that being involved in organizations means better grades and a better college experience."
Yarnell said that because students are typically more successful when they get involved, BSU's main goal is to build productive relationships.
"Relationships are built around shared experiences," he said. "That's what we do."
Aside from a flurry of activities during the first few weeks of school, Yarnell said BSU offers three main ministries.
First, there is the "dollar dinner" every Monday night followed by "Real Life" on Thursday, a Gospel-oriented service that has an average attendance of 70 plus.
"We believe we are created for community," Yarnell said. "And Real Life comes through that community. We want students to know Jesus and follow Him.
"We only have a short amount of time with them. If they learn to love God now, there's no limit to what they can do when they leave Northwest."
The third ministry consists of small student-led gatherings called "Life Groups." The idea is for students to interact positively and to become more involved with each other's lives.
Life Groups take place in houses, apartments, dorm rooms and sometimes at the Baptist Student Union itself, which is located at Fourth and Mulberry.
Students also gather at the union informally to play games or just hang out.
Yarnell, who has been at BSU for 13 years, said more international students are showing interest in the organization.
Since these students are a long way from home, it can sometimes be hard for them to make friends and interact with people from different cultural backgrounds.
BSU staffer Reese Hammond said he has built many lasting friendships with international students, and that welcoming young people from other countries has become a big part of the union's work.
"There is a definite desire to befriend Americans," Hammond said. "Many times they are brand new here and feel out of place, out of their culture.
Many American students don't reach out to them."
Hammond said befriending international students has taught him not only to understand others but to better understand himself.
"It allows you to step back and look at your own culture," he said. "I'm thankful for the friendships and have really grown in my faith through them."