I recently had a conversation…

I recently had a conversation with a youth pastor regarding Campus Missions. His youth ministry was not active in their local school systems, and he was apologetically trying to explain why. “We’ve been told that we are not welcome in the school system, so unfortunately we can’t be involved in Campus Missions.”  He went on to explain, “Evidently a youth pastor really messed things up years ago by overstepping the legal boundaries, and now the schools won’t have anything to do with youth pastors.” This is a familiar story that I’ve heard many times over. I’ve also personally experienced the rejection of an administrator who felt the presence of a youth pastor on campus would violate the United States Constitution. Sounds pretty serious. While I don’t agree with this decision by many school administrations, I also believe the youth pastor was wrong. He allowed a decision by an administrator to become an excuse that dictated the direction and scope of his youth ministry. More specifically, the rejection of the school system became a rule for what his youth ministry couldn’t do.

It’s easy to be intimidated by the campus. It’s also easy to be affected by rejection. But our God is bigger than one campus and one decision. Additionally, rejection does not change our mission, nor that of our students. And students are the key to dealing with rejection from a school administrator. This is because at it’s heart, campus missions is not about a youth pastor or youth leader. It’s about students rising up to become leaders in their own right. You can be successful in Campus Missions and be prohibited from being on campus at the same time. Just like youth ministry, Campus Missions is not about youth pastors—it’s about students. Does your view of Campus Missions mean that you have to personally be present, making an impact on the campus? Or does it mean that your youth ministry, through your students, has an impact on the campus?

You see, an administration can prohibit a Christian youth pastor from coming to school. But they can’t prohibit Christian students from coming to school. Even if they tried to prohibit a Bible Club from officially forming, they couldn’t prevent students from exercising grassroots Christianity. They can’t stop students from gathering for prayer, reading their Bibles, or sharing their faith. As leaders, we cannot use personal rejection or perceived legal decisions as an excuse for ineffective Campus Missions. No, you may not personally be allowed on the campus, but your students are allowed.  Not only are they allowed, but they are required to be there. So instead of making excuses, let’s start building missional students. Through the discipleship process of building missional students, our spiritual presence on the campus will be more powerful than our personal physical presence could ever be. It’s not about us—it’s about students.