LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Campus ministry is certainly nothing new for Daniel Johnson, who was named earlier this month as Regional Campus Minister for the Lexington Region, serving at the UKBCM for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Johnson, 30, has been around campus ministry his entire life. His father is a retired Baptist campus minister from Georgia. Johnson has served several churches as a student minister, and the past five years has worked in two Baptist campus ministries — one year at Tennessee Tech from 2016-27, then the last four years he was BSU associate director at the University of Mississippi.
“I’ve always enjoyed being at a big SEC (Southeastern Conference) school,” he said. He earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia before completing work on a masters of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and has an expected graduation date of December 2023 for a doctor of ministry degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“When you look at Lexington, two-thirds of the U.S. population is within an eight-hour radius,” Johnson said. “I am really excited for the opportunity to minister and serve in Lexington and at a school like the University of Kentucky — I’m excited to create a culture for students to be plugged into and be sent to church plants around the U.S. and the world.”
High on his list of early priorities is meeting church pastors and associational mission strategists in the area and build partnerships with those churches. “And I want to get to know students. We’re less than a month away from students coming back, so we’re planning and preparing for students to come back.” He has a leadership team of 25 students, plus an intern and campus ministry associate, and is training student leadership to meet the needs of the campus. “We’re excited to reach students — to help students as an extension of the local church to find community, follow Jesus and change the world.”
He will also be working with other colleges and universities in the region, with hopes of placing campus ministry leaders at some of its partnering universities — Blue Grass Community College, Asbury University, Midway University and Centre College.
Johnson said he is “very blessed to work with Kentucky Baptists, and is encouraged by how excited churches in the area have responded to partnering with BCM. “Those churches are ready to go and eager to reach this campus. My expectations have been exceeded about how great local churches have been and continue to be.”
Johnson and his wife, Sarah, a pharmacist, have a 4-month-old son, Caleb. “Sarah is involved as much as you can be with a 4-month-old and a full-time job,” he said. “She loves meeting students, and was in BCM leadership in college.”
Rob Patterson, KBC evangelism team leader, said it is easy to see that campus ministry is in Johnson’s DNA.
“As Daniel shared his testimony, many spiritual landmarks happened in the context of the BCM, including his call to ministry,” added Patterson. “My sincere hope is that, by God’s grace, the Johnsons might become ‘lifers’ in Kentucky Baptist Campus Ministry as well.”
Patterson recalled a member of KBC’s Administrative Committee saying this about Johnson: “We know God prepares us for what He is calling us to do, but I do not think I have ever seen someone who seems to be so clearly prepared for a particular role since birth than Daniel!”
Patterson said Johnson was one of “many wonderful candidates within Kentucky and across the country. One of the qualities that set Daniel apart became evident in discussing his ministry experience on campuses like the University of Mississippi and Tennessee Tech. His passion for discipling students to live out and share their faith is compelling, but so too is his love of the local church.
“Collegiate campuses remain one of the most strategic opportunities for impacting global lostness as students from around the globe gather during a transitional period in their lives,” Patterson added. “I pray churches throughout the Lexington region will open their hearts to the Johnsons as they seek to help churches reach local campuses and thereby the world for Christ.”