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Interview with Nick Yates | Rock College Ministry Pastor
By Dave Franco - February 23, 2015

Why is it important to evangelize to college students?
This is the season in peoples' lives (age 18-23) that really shape them into who they are and the direction that they’re headed. They create good or bad habits. They build a foundation that will withstand the storms of life or that will send them into an emotional tailspin. Adversity will happen, and this is the age where they develop good or bad coping mechanisms. I share my faith so that they can create a foundation that is as solid as a rock and will never waiver, to help them understand the foundational pillars of faith in Jesus Christ, so they can know that it’s to love Jesus…

What is the brokenness that you see among them?
Students are looking for love. They need it. They are searching everywhere for it. They search for it in the status quo, partying, drinking, getting high, abusive relationships with friends, and members of the opposite sex. They fill their schedules with things so they don’t feel lonely and unloved. They are looking to belong, but are finding that belonging to the wrong thing is better than belonging to nothing. My heart breaks for that and we want to create a sense of belonging for people. It’s called community—positive, fearless community that is so in love with Jesus that people take notice and see that it isn’t a weak religious phase. It’s a foundation to their lives where they can’t be shaken and where they thrive in life.

What is your heart for college students?
My heart is not just in sharing my faith with students, but in believing in them, and conveying that belief to them—so they know I’m here supporting them. I also want to teach them the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the point where they own their faith. I want them to fall so in love with Jesus that they can’t help but share their love for Him with others.

What creative ways are you reaching out them?
Jesus was clear about coming to preach the gospel. He didn’t wait for people to come to the temple, but instead, He went to the unexpected places and helped people right where they were. We do this by targeting the students who would never set foot inside a church. We bring church to them by hosting microsites (mobile, live streaming church services) on college campuses, and LIFE groups where they can grow in community throughout the week on their campus. They don’t need to attend a church building. They are the church. They can be the church on their campus.

What is different and challenging about reaching these kids?
They aren’t kids. They’re figuring out how to be adults and for some, it’s their first taste of freedom from their families, where they are only responsible and accountable to no one. That’s why they often make selfish decisions without thinking about the consequences. As a result, they often feel lonely and think that people don’t take an interest in their well being. They’re looking for love in all the wrong places and often it’s in places that are empty and come with consequences. One huge challenge is their schedules; they are bombarded with homework, projects, student organizations, sports, fraternity or a sorority, and even a job.

What are the goals for the college ministry?
Grow 100 students into leaders through the Elevate program who are equipped to lead LIFE Groups and Rock Church Microsites; share the gospel with 10,000 college students; host twenty Microsites on college campuses, totaling 500 students in attendance; host six LIFE Groups on every college campus; host off-the-hook events to engage college students.

How can the church help?
If anybody has a heart for college students, please keep me covered in prayer, and ask God to raise up student leaders to help me expand His work throughout the college campuses in San Diego.

What has surprised you about your experience as the leader of the Rock Church College Ministry so far?
One thing is the fact that people say they are Christian, but have no idea what it means to live as a Christian. Their behavior doesn’t match their belief. But I am also learning how rad college students are. They want to change the world and believe that they will. My purpose is to keep their God-size dreams alive, and feed their God-ordained passions by creating opportunities for them to thrive in ministry and do things they never thought possible. My purpose is to reach them before society or their anthropology teacher or family member kills that dream. These students can and will change the world. They just need someone to believe in them —and I do.

For more information about the College Ministry, click here »