When I think “strategy” in terms of expanding the Kingdom of Jesus, I can’t get away from thinking about campus ministry.
I heard a great lesson from Mark Driscoll on ministry in the city a while back. Listen to it here if you’d like.
Mark makes the point that God loves people, sent Jesus to die for people, and that churches are meant to be where the people are. More people live in cities than anywhere else. In fact, of the 4 billion or so people living on this planet right now, most can be found living in one of the world’s cities. It just makes sense for their to be a concerted effort to plant churches in cities.
God loves people, He sent Jesus to die for people, and churches are meant to be where the people are. This is true.
Its also true that if you reach the cities, you can change an entire culture. Cities are where culture is made. Clothing fads, music, art, government officials and makers of the law, the very wealthy, centers of media and business, centers of commerce and industry, leaders in technological development, economists and sought after specialists – all are found in cities.
If culture is a river, the city is the source. If culture is a cloud of smoke, the city is the fire. You get it.
Driscoll is right about all these things – if we truly want to change the world, we must focus on invading the cities for Jesus. This is exactly how the apostle Paul operated. Most of the New Testament books he authored are named after major cities of the first-century – places Paul strategically travelled to in order to plant churches – circles of influence meant to expand the Kingdom of Jesus.
But Driscoll fails to mention something very important. I believe a very strong case can be made that, collectively, the university campuses of the world wield just as much if not more culture-creating power than anything else. In fact, if you visit the major cities of the world and carefully study the culture found within them, you’ll learn that in most cases, local university culture plays a very prominent role in shaping the “face” of the rest of the city!
If you want to get specific about a strategy to reach the world for Jesus, leaving the universities out of the picture would be a major oversight (to put it lightly!!!), yet that’s exactly what I see happening!
Think about who you can find on university campuses today. All of those leaders mentioned in relation to running the city? Yes, you’ll find 99% of them got their career training at a university before becoming a wheeler and dealer in the city. Do a bit of research, and you’ll also find that college-aged individuals are more open to the gospel than almost any other segment of the population (if you break it down by age).
The future leaders of the world are open to the gospel? Doesn’t it just make sense to get serious about sharing it with them? Then why aren’t we?!?!
As one who was converted through a campus ministry, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to think about all the college students who are searching for meaning in life, are open to having conversations about their spirituality, are open to meeting Jesus, but there’s no ministry, no church, no group of people – maybe not even an individual there solely and intentionally focused on introducing Him!
In Churches of Christ, there are less than 150 campus ministries present in the United States (some say there are over 200, but that’s a myth). There are over 2,600 accredited, four-year colleges and universities in the United States alone, and if you count two-year schools and community colleges that number soars to well over 4,000. Over 97% of the colleges and universities in the United States lack a Church of Christ campus ministry.
Even Campus Crusade for Christ – the largest evangelical outreach to college students in the world – is only active on a little over 1,000 college campuses.
The college students of today are the future culture makers of tomorrow. The college students of today are the future world leaders of tomorrow. The college students of today are the future … yet ‘collegiate missions’ is a foreign term to most church leaders – much less church members.
I pray for the day when collegiate missions (i.e. campus ministry) will be as prevelant and as recognized a term as youth ministry. I pray for the day when it will be unheard of for a church located near a secular university campus to not have some sort of ministry for college students. I pray for the day when all of our brotherhood universities add courses and degree programs specific to collegiate missions.
I pray for the day when the Church as a whole decides it wants to forever change the spiritual face of our planet by reaching students in every generation, and I pray when that day comes the Church will put its money where its mouth is.
I’m praying for it, don’t think I’m alone, and believe that day is coming!