History is being made every day at Grambling State University, and as we take this month to celebrate the innovators of the past, we also look at what today’s innovators have in store.
One such innovator is Henry Tolbert, pastor of The Church of the Champions. For the past two years, he and his ministry have been reaching out to the community and doing something rarely seen before – starting a church for college-aged adults, run by college-aged adults.
Tolbert’s reason for starting COTC is because he realized there was a generation of people who are missing out on the church experience. He had a heart for those who weren’t accepted by other churches and reached out to them.
“I felt a burden for the young people who were looking for a place that they can relate to that wasn’t like the traditional churches.”
As an alumnus of GSU, who just happens to have been a football star, Tolbert understands the plight of being a college student while trying to maintain Christian values. This is why his church has coined the phrase “Real People serving a Real God.”
Tolbert recalls what his relationship with God was like while in school and how being involved in ministries helped him grow. He and COTC are geared toward giving students a healthy alternative of living through their services, events and lifestyles.
COTC has created a small community of Christians that emphasizes the fact that they aren’t perfect but they strive to become who they are meant to be. Tolbert wants this small community to impact the world by having members take what they learned in church and spread it to others when they graduate.
Tolbert’s goal is to see lives changed for the better, not just for the students at GSU but for the students’ families and communities as well.
“I think a person has the ability to expand their lives by being able to transfer some type of truth that outlast them.
“My motivation is to not just build a church but to build people,” Tolbert says.
However, the challenge of having a college-based church is seeing members eventually leave GSU, especially since the church relies heavily on peer-to-peer leadership. Yet the church keeps growing.
“We are in the process of planning our second campus, even looking forward to a third campus within the next two years.”
So far, COTC has seen more than 1,000 people become Christians. Tolbert and COTC are also working on upcoming conferences and programs, including one to help single mothers find housing and help with child care.
As an African American pastor, Tolbert wants to promote the Black families in the community. He especially wants to establish men as fathers in the next generation and allow them to see the importance of family.
“I look at our church as a long-term deal. The time is coming where we will be adults, and who we are then will be a reflection of who we are now.”