Campus Lifestyles Need a Campus Ministry:
Good News and Bad News
First, the bad news: Spiritual challenges are unavoidable in today’s world, and college campuses oftentimes provide heightened opportunities for temptation. Many students fall prey to peer-pressure, loneliness, fear, and temptation. They are exposed to liberal world views and new ideas. Perhaps their belief system will be challenged. Young adults, away from home and the loving guidance of parents, families and community, must begin to make their own decisions.
Are our young people ready for the responsibility? Probably not.
Without a support system, students will most likely experiment with at least one of, but more often all of, these common temptations: drugs, alcohol and unmarried sex. Co-ed cohabitation is common. So are cheating, internet pornography, and gambling.
Students may rationalize, “what else is there?” Or, “everyone else is doing it.”
Christian students may find their faith walk threatened. Non-Christian students may cast about, desperate for comfort, and find it in the wrong places.
Now, the good news: Campus ministries across the United States and around the world are growing every year. These ministries provide students with a place to fit in, to have fun, to grow and learn about their faith, and to help others.
Young adults are nurtured in a caring atmosphere, which encourages them to explore Christianity while providing support for them to stand strong in their faith. Students involved in campus ministries often invite non-Christian friends to stop by and participate in activities both enjoyable and moral at the same time.
Campus ministries are vibrant, caring, energetic, and exciting. Both pastors and students find almost endless opportunities within the ministry to be fulfilled and challenged, limited only by their collective imagination and determination.
Ways to Have Fun, God-Style
• Roller Skating
• Game Nights
• Football Tailgate Parties
• Camping Trips
• Friday Night Videos
• Slumber Parties (same sex only)
• Sports Teams
• Service Projects
• Student Leadership Conference
• Mission Trips
• Ministry Teams
• Scuba Diving Club
• Chess Club
• Intramural Sports
• Music Groups
• Political Groups
• Skydiving Club
• Volunteer Service
• Campus Ministry Groups
Steve Wilkin, Campus Minister of Christ’s Church at Virginia Tech (CCVT) states, “If you end up in the party scene it's because you either wanted to, or you are too much like a feather -- you just go wherever the wind takes you instead of putting some thought into how you want to live your life and then making choices accordingly. It's your life -- make choices you won't regret later. Don't let MTV tell you how you should live your life, and don't just go with the flow of the people around you either. ”
Why Do We Need Campus Ministries
Wilkin stresses the importance of getting students involved in a good campus ministry. That involvement can, and often does, make the difference between a student growing into a committed disciple of Jesus who loves God more deeply, holds their faith more firmly, and serves God and others more actively than when they came, and the student who falls away from the Lord altogether.
How to Support Campus Ministries
Wilkin has accumulated nine years of experience with the Campus Ministry at Virginia Tech. He knows first-hand how the community and individuals can help:
Find out where your community’s high-school graduates are going to college and find at least one good campus ministry there that would be good for them to get involved in. Tell them about it and encourage them to get involved. Then don't assume they will. Please get in touch with the campus ministry and let them know the student is coming.
Don't ask college students if they are going to church. Instead, ask them if they are growing in their faith. A focus on attending church is a large part of the problem with many students' spiritual lives. Christianity is far more than "clocking in" at church every Sunday morning. And yet that is exactly the mentality such a question reinforces in students' minds. Students already tend to think they are exceptionally spiritual if they spend one hour a week on God, because compared to most of their peers, they are! By asking them if they are growing in their faith, you will create awareness of the need for growth. This will encourage involvement in a group that will help them to grow, instead of just going through the motions.
If any college students from out of town attend your congregation, start an Adopt-a-Family program for your church. Families can put themselves up for adoption and students can sign up to adopt them. Once adopted, the families can invite the student over for lunch after church on Sundays, invite them to join the family on special occasions, or just to come over to have a quiet place to do homework or relax from time to time. Students often really miss the home atmosphere of family life, especially if they are far away from home. You can provide a warm, loving place for them, and in the process, make them feel more like a part of the church family as well.
Pray for the campus ministries, church ministries to young adults and for specific college students.
Support campus ministries financially. Campus ministers are missionaries in the most influential places on earth – the training grounds of the leaders of tomorrow in virtually every field – business, government, entertainment, science and technology, education, medicine, law, you name it. Shape the future!
Excellent article, Dian. I have a huge heart for this problem. My own son fell victim to losing his way while attending a "Christian" college and learning about ALL the different religions of the world. He chose NOT to believe in any of them - including the one in which he was raided - Christianity. It is my continual prayer that God in His mercy will recapture my son's heart and bring him back. Now that he has a child of his own, my prayers are ever urgent and tearful that she will have the opportunity to learn about Christ, our Lord. I do what I can, but they are in Calif and I am in Washington. I live in trust that God will protect and guide my darling grandchild to His waiting arms. A well-written and thought-provoking article. Thanks for reminding us all what is most important - our children. Yours in Christ, ladybug Karen