Helping Students “Plug In” to their Faith

Posted by Janae Melvin on February 16, 2016 in Bible, Braving, Briley, Christian, Discipleship, Ministries, Rivers Briley.jpg

If you’re looking for Director of Christian Ministries Briley Rivers ’01, his office would be the last place to check. Since returning to Ottawa University and assuming the role of DCM in July, Rivers has been on the move around campus. He has meetings to get to, Bible studies to attend and lives to impact so there really isn’t much opportunity for him to slow down.

“I go where the students are,” Rivers said. “I’m organizing events to get them connected to campus ministries and providing different opportunities to grow in faith. I’m on campus pretty much every weeknight with different group meetings and activities.”

While Rivers’ job includes serving as advisor for all campus ministry groups, his focus is reaching out to students who are not plugged into campus ministries, either due to a lack of interest in the faith side of life or because have they have not gotten connected yet.

Rivers was on campus during move-in day this past fall, meetings students and helping them get situated in the residence halls. He’s been networking with fellow Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference schools to identify possible event partnership opportunities. He oversaw OU’s annual Braving Discipleship weekend retreat, which had the largest attendance and involvement of OU students in several years.

He’s definitely been busy, but he’s happy he had the opportunity to return to OU, a place that had a huge impact on his faith life.

“My (football) coaches were strong believers, and that really made an impact on me personally,” Rivers said. “When I was a student, I was involved in FCA, team chapels and was a counselor with Camp TEAM. My experience here at OU was really rooted in faith activities.”

After graduation, Rivers spent three years as a teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Ottawa while remaining active with a youth group at the Presbyterian Church. He was asked to become the youth pastor at that church, a job he held for three years before going back into education. In April 2015, he was contacted about the DCM job opening at OU.

Since he arrived back on campus, he has seen a resurgence of faith activities within athletics. There’s a women’s Catholic Bible study that athletes have recently started in addition to two Bible study sessions that are held by members of the football team and the men’s soccer team, respectively. He also took a group of students to the men’s basketball exhibition game against the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, in November.

This spring, he is taking students on more trips to concerts and festivals in Kansas City. He’s also planning a mission trip to Chicago over Spring Break that will be open to any student who wants to go.
“Going forward, I really hope to make Campus Ministries a strong presence here at OU. We’re involved in everything and if there is something going on on campus, we’re there. We want to reach out and provide opportunities for students to plug in and understand what they believe and why they believe it.”
Rivers is married to alum Lisa ’00 and has two sons; Cody, 10 years old and Lucas, born November 13. He’s also a faculty member in the School of Education.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from faculty, staff or students when I came back to campus, but I’ve really connected with a lot of students and been accepted by members of the faculty and staff,” he said. “It’s nice to be back. It’s nice to be home. This place was really instrumental in my life and so to be a part of that for students going forward has been a blessing.”