For years, Jay Jutzy, a busy Bozeman-area radiology physician, had wished for a way to reconnect Adventist students in higher education with Jesus Christ. He saw many leave the security of Adventist academies, never to be seen in church again. So he and others at the Mount Ellis Academy Church began raising a seed fund toward establishing a campus ministry at Montana State University.
When the Montana Conference showed an interest in sponsoring such a ministry, Jutzy made sure that they were all on the same page about expectations: no baptismal benchmarks or specific requirements for a number of Bible studies. It wasn't that he was against those important elements in church growth or discipleship. But this ministry was to be different: a practical experiment in ministering to a secular campus by developing relationships, following the example of Jesus' method of ministry as outlined by Ellen White. Certainly there would be opportunities to bid people to follow Him, but first would come the relationship-building. “We wanted an Adventist pastor to lead a Christ-centered ministry,” says Jutzy, “re-engaging our inactive Adventist students with the beauties of our beliefs and also attracting some who hate religion, as they have seen it misrepresented, to the beauty of Jesus.”
Jutzy and Jerry Pogue were early proponents of this idea. And they are delighted with the results so far. Members of both the Mt. Ellis and Bozeman City churches have become part of the support team. There are a number of students, according to Jutzy, who are now working actively in churches and schools who likely would not have done so without this campus program. “After college,” he says, “they would have shown up a few times at church and then disappeared like so many others.”
“I can’t think of anything more undesirable than a secular campus where they feel they have everything but have no need for God,” says Jutzy. “But when you talk to them, when you develop a relationship with them, you realize pretty quick that they all have deep needs for what only Christ can bring.”
“So,” he continues, “a core principle of Alan’s outreach is one of planting seeds and allowing positive relationships to nurture those seeds. We want to plant principles in students’ lives that will help them recognize Christ in everyday life situations, so they will be open to the Holy Spirit according to His timetable, not ours.”