As our feature on campus ministry continues, here is a unique campus ministry in the St. Louis area: Reliant Church at Crave Coffeehouse. Reliant is close to the urban center of St. Louis, on property adjacent to Saint Louis University’s medical campus and less than a mile from SLU’s main campus. Travis Besel, Campus and Urban Missionary at Reliant, explains their unique ministry opportunities.
“Crave Coffeehouse is an amazing asset in bringing students into our space,” explains Besel. “A coffeehouse is a relaxed and inviting environment which we try to leverage in meeting students and introducing them to our church and college ministry.” Crave Coffeehouse and Reliant operate in the same 1868 building, renovated in 2005. Reliant worships on Sundays, while Crave serves delicious drinks and creates a gathering space during the week.
Over time Reliant’s campus ministry has shifted from having “on campus” gatherings and events at the main SLU campus to using Crave as a meeting place. Besel notes that this has not only made hosting events easier, but has opened the door for students attending other colleges to feel more welcome and connected, “We have had students from St. Louis College of Pharmacy, Missouri Baptist, and St. Louis Community College in addition to our SLU students.”
Besel has observed, though, that despite being a university in an urban setting, SLU still has a high percentage of students that live near or on campus. “The ‘land-locked’ mindset, I think, is a little bit unique for an urban campus,” says Besel. “Students do like to explore the city and see what it has to offer, but overall SLU has a strong campus-centric community.” This makes it useful when Reliant does events or advertising on SLU’s campus, like attending the campus fair at the beginning of fall semesters.
Besel’s advice to students: “College is not a time to take a break from your faith. Many of the people who do this, lose their faith for good. So as you begin college (or a new semester if you are already in college), make your faith a priority from the start. ... Schoolwork should not be an excuse to skip church and Bible study. Even if you are in a rigorous program, you have the time, you just need to be proactive with your schedule. If you can’t find a good campus ministry or church at your school, ask your home pastor or youth leader for help in locating one. College is hard and presents some big challenges, but God’s love is bigger. He doesn’t promise things will always go well for us, instead he promises to be with us every step of the way!”