After four years of campus ministry at the University of Cincinnati, I’m still figuring out what the summer season should look and feel like. (The Edge House is the place where a lot of my ministry conversations, bible studies, events, etc happen.)
During the year, I’m trying to intentionally and weekly disciple about 12 students in hopes that it indirectly impacts 50-70 students. During the summer, I have about 4-6 students who stick around and want to continue to engage on a regular basis.
With my added responsibilities as the College/Young Adult Pastor at Springdale Nazarene Church, I instantly have another 50-70 young adults to connect with. That’s a welcome challenge but a challenge none the less. This Sunday we will start a new Connect Group which will explore the idea of merging…merging into adulthood and merging faith with all of life. One of the ways I believe “tough love” is going to come into play in my church-based college ministry role is keeping this idea in front of them: the more successful we are in accomplishing our goal, the shorter your time in this ministry will be. (Find our more about our College/Young Adult Ministry here on Facebook.)
Unlike a typical age-based ministry environment in the church (children, youth, etc) ministry to young adults will be more outcome-based. Although the college journey could mark a definite season of involvement in this ministry, successfully navigating the major issues of identity formation, intimacy needs, pleasure, meaning, and Truth will be the proverbial finish line.
To that end, I am realizing that on the campus-based ministry side of things…I need to be a little more challenging. I recently saw my first “batch” of college students graduate and leave campus after being connected with my ministry all four years. Although there are some great things to celebrate, I would love to send students off being a little more confident in the spiritual, social, and vocational progress that was made. For that to happen, I need to become a little more like the coach or personal trainer who pushes students beyond what they think they’re capable of spiritually.
I sat across the table from a college student just the other day. As we were having lunch, I challenged him to consider what our goals might be for the summer term. After one of my suggestions, he wrinkled his nose and indicated that he wasn’t interested in the particular “medicine” I had prescribed for our time together. In the moment, I let it slide and offered a less challenging agenda for our next conversation. But as I’ve thought and prayed about this student, I know I have to go back to him and let him know that I believe in him. More importantly, I believe in the God who calls him out of mediocre spirituality into a life of robust faith and mission. No more Mr. Nice Campus Minister, Ha!