The Solution:for: Youth Leaders

Five Ways of Addressing the Challenges of Campus Ministry

A few weeks ago my friend, Rob Gillen, wrote a great entry entitled “The Problem: Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry.” He identified some of the core fears and hindrances that keep youth pastors from engaging the Campus as a mission field and as a relevant component of student spiritual development. Interestingly, none of the identifiable problems were material. They are all philosophical, ethereal, missiological problems. Here’s some suggestions, along those lines, to tackle these problems:

(1) Problem: Campus Ministry is intimidating. Solution: Step outside your comfort zone. Was it intimidating for Moses to confront Pharaoh? Was it intimidating for Jonah to preach to Nineveh? Did Peter find it easy to step outside the boat? Anything worth doing will carry a level of intimidation. Your real fears are rejection by campus officials and failure to succeed in an uncomfortable environment. Recognize three things: You can do this even though it’s uncomfortable (Phil. 4:13), there is a power inside you to overcome these obstacles (Acts 1:8), facing intimidation is a blessing from God and a path to growth (James 1:2-3).

(2) Problem: Campus Ministry requires time, effort & commitment. Solution: Make time for what’s important to you. I’m assuming you’re in youth ministry because you care about teenagers and want to make disciples of Christ. This is important to you. However, no one can become a disciple of Christ without adopting His missional ethos; to seek and save that which is lost (Matt. 18:11, Luke 19:10). If you’re not adopting this ethos personally, and you’re not building this into your students, you’re not making time for what’s important to you. Your youth ministry may be a safe and fun “club” that students belong to, but you can’t make disciples without mission.

(3) Problem: Campus Ministry requires growth on the part of the leader. Solution: Find a mentor and do some reading. Everything that grows changes. It’s one of the fundamental rules of life. The inverse is also true, everything that refuses to grow doesn’t change. To help you through this growth, find a coach-mentor (Phil. 3:17), and read some books on leadership and the missional church. Contact me by emailing Lee@reachtheschool.com for suggestions.

(4) Problem: Campus Ministry yields very few accolades. Solution: Figure out what a win looks like and highlight it. The current mission of the church is a little off kilter from missio Dei (the mission of God). You may need to start defining what a win looks like in campus ministry and identify scriptural principles to go with it. For example: student’s sharing their faith, campus ministries being planted, new visitors as a result of campus ministry, etc.. Once you define what a win is, start highlighting the win and the scriptural principle to your leader and church. Soon the accolades will be rolling in.

(5) Problem: Campus Ministry beckons a youth leader to acknowledge the real “war” taking place. Solution: Put yourself into secular teenage contexts. If you think your youth ministry is changing the larger context of students in your community, try spending some time in their world: athletic events, the local mall on a Friday night, and, best of all, High School Dances. This will give you a broader look at how wide ranging your impact is and spark a passion in you to change things.

Five Ways of Addressing the Challenges of Campus Ministry A few weeks ago my friend, Rob Gillen, wrote a great entry entitled “The Problem: Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry.” He identified some of the core fears and hindrances that keep youth pastors from engaging the Campus as a mission field and as a relevant...

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The Problem:for: Youth Leaders

Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry

Most youth pastors do not engage in campus ministry of any kind. This is a mistake. Although a spiritual battle takes place in our youth services once a week, the war is taking place on the campus. There are five simple reasons why youth pastors don’t do campus ministry:

(1) Campus Ministry is intimidating. Within a church, a youth pastor naturally belongs. They have a title and they have a purpose that’s understood by most. In a high school however, there isn’t the natural acceptance of a youth pastor joining the campus community. You’re not a teacher or a student and you’re entering a brand new culture. It can be very uncomfortable at first.

(2) Campus Ministry requires time, effort & commitment. As Mark Batterson once put it, “In ministry today, we do not lack creativity. Let’s call it what it is. We’re lazy.” This may sound harsh at first, but if we’re honest with ourselves – we tend to choose the path of least resistance, even when it’s sometimes not the most effective choice. Just like any ministry, campus ministry takes work and investment.

(3) Campus Ministry requires growth on the part of the leader. Communicating with teachers and administrators, ministering to students with no religious background, and coaching students in a radically different environment may require significant personal growth from the youth pastor.

(4) Campus Ministry yields very few accolades. Ministry is typically an affirming atmosphere for pastors at least in some shape or form -ever heard of “Pastor’s Appreciation Day?” You will receive very little affirmation for committing yourself to the high school. Some leadership contexts may not view the campus as the strategic mission field that it is.

(5) Campus Ministry beckons a youth leader to acknowledge the real “war” taking place. Ignorance is bliss. The youth room is a safe place for a youth pastor. The school is a lot more dangerous. Whether in class or participating in sports and extracurricular clubs, our students spend the great majority of their time on the campus.

Five Reasons Youth Pastors Don’t Do Campus Ministry Most youth pastors do not engage in campus ministry of any kind. This is a mistake. Although a spiritual battle takes place in our youth services once a week, the war is taking place on the campus. There are five simple reasons why youth pastors don’t do campus ministry: (1) Campus...

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Alone On Your Campus?for: Students

Have you ever felt alone as a Campus Missionary in your school? Would it surprise you to find out the Apostle Paul felt lonely from time to time, as well? Paul was a social person, even though he wasn’t married. He always stayed with people when he went from town to town, and he always took others with him on the journey of spreading the gospel. In fact, it seems as though he had difficulties being alone. He talks about this in 2 Timothy 4:9-18. In fact, he struggled with the fact that his earthly companions abandoned him in a time of need. He writes, “The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear” (vss. 16–17 NLT-SE).

Notice that Paul did not allow his loneliness to become an excuse for why he couldn’t share the gospel. On the contrary, Paul writes that he relied on the Lord, who stood with him and gave him strength. Why? So that Paul could continue to preach the gospel. Today you may be feeling all alone. You may even feel like you’ve been abandoned in a trial or difficulty. But God is with you! Rely on Him, and continue to share the gospel with those who haven’t heard it. Keep in mind that those who sit near you in class are probably even more lonely than you are. They are just waiting for someone to be their friend. That friend is you.

Have you ever felt alone as a Campus Missionary in your school? Would it surprise you to find out the Apostle Paul felt lonely from time to time, as well? Paul was a social person, even though he wasn’t married. He always stayed with people when he went from town to town, and he always took others...

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I recently had a conversation…for: Youth Leaders

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.

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,...

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