One of the most important Kingdom movements the Holy Spirit is birthing forth today is the missional church movement. I’m enthusiastic about it because it holds so much promise for introducing sweeping revival, evangelical renewal, and ecclesiastical reformation in the Body of Christ worldwide. The missional church movement I think can also serve as a sorely needed catalyst amongst the proliferating number of evangelical campus missions ie. ministries like CRU , InterVarsity, YoungLife, RUF, Chi Alpha, BCM, etc. and with the myriads of new church planting efforts that are popping up all over in university towns. My theory is that God in our day is sovereignly (re)stirring a missional church movement in response to a wide variety of massive culture-shifts the American and Western world have been seeing. The Holy Spirit has strategically been raising up missional leadership for all aspects of the Universal Church for over 60+ years through campus missions. For a variety of reasons myself and many others think we are at a pivotal moment in church history that needs much reflection and prayer.
Truth be told, the missional church movement isn’t really new. It’s merely a fresh expression of the Gospel of Jesus in our time that the Holy Spirit is doing to lead Christ’s Church into new territory. But, are we as campus ministry leaders aware of our God’s mssiological impulses and radical ways? On many fronts there are reports of campus ministries bogging down like mainline evangelical churches have been, too much pastoral control, bored attenders, loss of vision and fruitfulness. Are we in a good position to get in step with the missional directions the Spirit of God is moving us in? A big question I’m asking myself and campus ministry leaders everywhere ie. CRU/IV/YL staff, campus missionary, undergrad, grad, professor, chaplain, campus pastor, etc. is this: “Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?”
Whatever the case, I hope to stir campus ministry leaders everywhere by inviting them to answer this question, talk about the implications of what you discover, and be willing to make changes accordingly. Click the above hyperlinks to learn more about what’s being said nowdays about being “missional”, and skim my below terminology that I’m choosing to use for our question:
- Are we “DOING“? — As campus ministry leaders, are we personally doing and modeling for others “Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry”? Are we worshipping, praying, listening, going, preaching, baptizing, teaching, and equipping others in Jesus’ commandments in the power of the Holy Spirit as our core work? (see Matthew 28:16-20). Or, are we finding ourselves engaged, distracted, overwhelmed, seduced by other involvements?
- Is what we are doing “GREAT?” — As campus ministry leaders, does what you are doing smack of The Kingdom of God (ie. the grand historic movement of God that calls for repentance and brings redemption to the world in Jesus Christ)? Or, are we more about our personal, organizational, or evangelical tribal agendas?
- Is what we are doing “CO-MISSIONAL?” — As campus ministry leaders are we truly “being and making disciples” OF Jesus WITH Jesus? Or, are we making disciples out of legalistic obedience, or impure motives for ourselves, or for (shudder) for the perpetuation of our campus church or campus mission organizations?
- “Is what we are doing “CAMPUS”?” — As campus ministry leaders are we physically and virtually present in the nexus of the land, buildings, institutional programs, and subcultures that comprise the core culture of the high school and university students you’ve been called to “disciple”? Note: It is a huge missiological problem if you are primarily making students “come” to you; and, if you are not primarily “going” to where students are. If you are not going to students, …you are not doing “campus” ministry”! ie. are we finding ourselves primarily absent from the various cultural contexts where our students live, eat, sleep, study, play, walk, and worship (physical & virtual)?
- “Is what we are doing “MINISTRY?” = As campus ministry leaders are we really doing the good works of God and reaching out to the specific student groups that the Holy Spirit has tasked us with (Hebrews 10:25)? Or, are we neglecting our “good works” as campus ministers due to physical distance, cultural fears, busyness, or organizational sacred-cows?
As for myself, I’m at a personal crossroads. I’ve served for over 25 good years in Ohio, Idaho, Seattle, and Berkeley as a campus minister and have made every mistake in the book imaginable. And, also seen spiritual fruit beyond my wildest dreams. At the moment God has called me to make disciples amongst two of the busiest (most unavailable) student groups at UC Berkeley: athletes and grad students. I’m two years into this endeavor and it’s by far the hardest mission assignment I’ve ever had. I’m scared because it looks like it might cost me more blood, sweat, and tears than I ever imagined to see Christ formed amongst these student groups. I’m tempted to waiver because it’s not as easy nor as “fun” as traditional undergrad ministry or church-planting. I’m in a tough spot this fall and need courage to keep pressing in on going and preaching the Gospel into places on campus I’ve never have before. As for me, I’ve shrunk back from preaching the Gospel these past two years and I feel sick about it and want to confess that to you.
Whatever the case, looking forward to hearing whatever you are thinking about anything I’ve said here and/or to hear where you are at. I looking forward to meeting you and learning from you through your comments below. Feel free to steal my “missional question”. Use it with your staff teams, student leaders, and church planting elders. If it helps your ministry grow, give God the glory; if it causes a lot of messiness, you can blame me.
Bottom Line: If we are not involved in doing campus ministry that is Kingdom-inspired, Biblical, and goes to where today’s students are, …we are probably not involved in campus ministry that is obedient to the Great Commission, nor worthy of our Lord. So, “Are We Really Doing Great Co-Missional Campus Ministry?” This is our question. What do you think?
Daniel Curran serves on staff with Cru as a Campus Minister @ UC Berkeley, Leadership Developer, LeadCatalyst of GradCru Networks. Follow him on Twitter. Check out his blog.