loren Eric Swanson: Jason Ma's Story of Campus Church Networks

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Jason Ma's Story of Campus Church Networks

Campus Church Networks started in 1998 on the campus of San Jose State University. Jason Ma was then a college freshmen in his philosophy 101 class when the professor asked, "Who here believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" In that class of a hundred more Jason and one other friend were the only students to raise their hands. After that day, Jason became distressed with the realization that most of his college campus did not know the love of Jesus Christ. He began to prayer walk the San Jose State campus asking God to save the student body of more than 28,0000 students. Before he knew it, God began to open doors for him to minister to the associated student body officers. God began to grant Jason and his campus ministry team so much favor with the San Jose State student government that they actually sponsored him to put on major evangelistic rallies on campus. Through these major outreaches hundreds of students were touched and saved. Yet, Jason realized many made decisions for Christ, but not many were integrated into a healthy local church family. In fact, most of the churches around the college campus did not have anything to offer college students such as a college ministry or had no clue of what to do with college students. Although, some of the Christians on campus could attend a campus fellowship while in school, sooner or later they would graduate and find the same problem of not fitting into traditional churches.

As Jason spoke to students at other universities up and down California he realized the same problems were on virtually every college campus. The reality was a majority of college students on most campuses did not have or care to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many thought of Church as boring, irrelevant, and hypocritical. At the same time Jason saw the emptiness, brokenness and pain of so many students who were searching for real love through drugs, parties, sex and getting good grades, yet these all left so many students depressed and some even suicidal. This broke his heart because he knew the college students of today were going to be the leaders of tomorrow. He knew if we could first reach college students with the message of Gospel then these would be the future leaders of society who would change and transform their communities, cities and world for Christ.

Through these experiences Jason began to pray about how he could start churches on campuses that would bring the church to the students instead of the students to the church. After much study in missionary church planting models such as the underground house churches in China, Jason was convinced that simple relationship-based churches would meet the most practical needs of college students, which is feeling cared for. In his studies he read how 18-year-old Chinese girls were planting over 100 churches in China a year after only being a born again Christian for a few years. Many were uneducated, but relied on the power of the Holy Spirit and on-the-job training from other seasoned pastors. The churches he studied in China were networks of small churches maybe 15-30 members meeting in homes or storefronts sharing life together day to day under the Lordship of Christ.

This kind of simple relationship based church excited Jason so much he began to wonder, "If an 18 year old Chinese girl can plant 100 churches in a year in China, why can?t a college freshman plant a few churches on a college campus?" He then realized that a church could be planted on a college campus if a trained missionary could pray and win a student of peace or natural leader for Christ. The missionary would then teach the student leader to win his network of friends and from that network of friends start a small church. Once started, the missionary would then model for and disciple the natural student leader of the group on how to pastor the church with the goal of one day releasing him/her to actually be the pastor and train him/her to raise up their own student leaders to start other churches.

Jason realized student leaders would need to train other students to start more churches on campus because one church on a campus would not be enough. Since, there were so many different kinds of student clusters on campus no one church could ever reach every student segment. There are sports students, engineering students, international students, fraternity and sorority students, and the list goes on. Jason began to look at each student segment like they were un-reached people groups. The best way in his mind was to plant a unique church for each of these un-reached student groups. So instead of just focusing on having one campus church on campus, the goal would be to start as many campus churches to reach every kind of student on campus.

Now these churches would normally be about 15-20 students meeting anywhere on or near campus. Once the church on campus would outgrow its meeting place, instead of going to look for a bigger meeting place to rent, the church would just multiply and train up another student leader to start another church somewhere else on campus! These relationship based churches would never be hindered in getting started by needing to pay for a church building because they could meet anywhere like a dorm, apartment, student union, classroom, business office or even Starbucks! Pretty soon, the whole college community could be saturated with churches and every student would be reached for Christ.

Jason became so excited with this new way of doing church he started one- where else but San Jose State University. Since starting the first campus church his team has sent out other missionaries to other university campuses to do the same. Now the campus church planting movement is beginning to unfold. Jason and the CCN team are continuing to reach out to the campuses with the dream to one-day see every campus in all the world saturated with campus churches that are engaging lost students, equipping students and empowering students to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission in this generation! Start a Revolution! Start a Campus Church!

How we change the 80/20 factor in the American Church Today
From 20% of the people doing ministry... to 80% of the people doing ministry

The message of the Gospel will always remain the same, but the methods of communicating it will always change. New churches need to be raised up for this new generation and Campus Church Networks has the platform to do it. In Matthew 16:18 "And I also say to you, that you are Peter and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." It is the church?s purpose to expand God?s kingdom rule on earth. The church means the "called out ones" the "community of faith" in Christ. It is called out to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Yet, churches are closing everyday in America at an unprecedented rate. American church statistics show:

--Churches lose estimated 2,765,000 people each year to nominalism and secularism.
--Between 3,500 to 4,000 churches close their doors each year in America.
--Last 10 years, the combined communicant membership of all Protestant denominations has declined by 9.5% (4,498,242), while national population has increased by 11% (24,253,000).
--Half of all churches last year did not add one new member through "conversion growth"
(American Society for Church Growth (ASCG), "Enlarging our Borders," Report presented to the Executive Presbytery, January 1999.)

In recent polls, young adults between the ages of 18-25 are the most unlikely age group to attend a church. Barna research group shows a majority of all students who attend church after high school do not return (Barna Research Group). What we need are new churches for a new generation because the current method of church is not working effectively in America. Below is statistics of average attendance of twenty something year olds in the United States compared to that of other age brackets by percentage. Twenty somethings are the least likely to attend church. The study was conducted by Barna Research Group 9/23/2003 over five years.

Consider what Religion Today published in an article entitled, "Look Out, Here Comes the Gen-X Church." Generation X Christians are radically changing the church. The generation of 18-35 year olds, less concerned about structure and hierarchy, are disconnected from traditional churches and starting small, informal fellowships?The churches meet in homes, coffee shops, warehouses, fast-food restaurants, industrial complexes, parks, and other unconventional places. Relationships are the key? Generations Xers are loyal to each other over and above anything else. (Religion Today, Look Out, Here Comes the Gen-X Church)

The modern era's intellectualization of faith is no longer valued by the culture of today's youth seeking spiritual answers to their problems. We are living in a postmodern era where young people have no standards, believe all things, and are desiring to experience God. This generation doesn't want to sit on pews and merely listen to a preacher convince them of Christ's existence. Instead, this generation wants to live out their faith by doing something about it. God's kingdom will not be extended in this generation unless we realize the methods and traditions of the past modern era are no longer relevant to reach today's postmodern youth.We must also understand in order to expand God?s kingdom in this generation we have to focus on the young people. This is because todays Gen X & Y is tomorrows mainstream society. A youth pastor in Germany named Karsten Wolf believes the youth culture churches of today will define the church of the future. Consider that:

--Generation X & Y is the largest single generation in the history of mankind, numbering in the region of a couple billion.
--With the global media beaming the same message to the same generation worldwide, young people (aged 18-35) are more the same in their thinking today than ever before.
--As this generation ages and-within the next decade-becomes the prevailing society, they will bring their changes with them. Whatever Gen X & Y has done to the church will be the lasting normative. "The young people of today, in 10 years or less, will be the society of the nations.

That's why, if we shape new models of church today, we are shaping the church of the future. Youth culture churches may well revolutionize what church becomes in the future. We could be looking at an absolutely new form of church. I think we will need this new form of church to reach the nations," says Wolf. (House that Change the World, Wolfgang Simson) By planting new churches that are more community and experience based, while at the same time adhering to the foundational pillars of our Christian heritage we can bring God?s kingdom to a lost and hopeless generation. These new kinds of churches must look, value and operate in things much different than the church of the past two centuries in North America. If we don't figure out new ways to reach this MTV generation, we will lose them to the persuasion of the enemy's devices. Let us prayerfully consider how we be and do church differently to reach the emerging generation on campuses all over the world.

Yours for the Great Commandment and the Great Commission,

Jason Ma


At Monday, December 31, 2007 3:59:00 PM, Anonymous sheng Ling said...

Jason Ma,
You are the servant of God, a gifted Christian leader to youth. My daughter love to listen to your preach. She dream you could help her to plan a campus church as those you have built in her school, University of Arkansas. She hopes you could stop by so she would talk with you someday.
I prey to God and let Him do the work that delightful to Him.
Great Job. I prey for your ministers.


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