Sunday, February 9, 2020

Why I'm a Campus Pastor

This time of year is full of conversations with our apprentices and young campus pastors. Some of our pastors' commitments to FOCUS are up at the end of the school year, and they've been thinking and praying and seeking counsel on whether to make another multi-year commitment to student missions. Our staff is in the process of deciding which apprentices to invite to stay longer on our team, and they, in turn, are deciding whether to accept those offers. On top of that, a whole new group of graduates is carefully discerning whether to apply for the 2020-21 apprenticeship class. The applications are due at the end of this month! Please be in prayer for the Spirit to give all involved wisdom and discernment this month as we make key decisions that will affect our future.

With all that going on, I've been reflecting on why I'm a campus pastor, a missionary to college students. I firmly believe there is no more strategic mission field than our college and university campuses. These campuses are the crossroads of the modern world, where ideas and cultures are coming together, much like the crossroads cities in the ancient world where the Apostle Paul chose to take his message about Jesus.

Young people come to college to learn, to decide for themselves what they believe and what they will live for. In this season of life, they are forming the friendships that will form them in the coming years. They typically have as much free time during college as they will at any time before retirement. They're often excited, idealistic, hardworking, and passionate. And yet, for decades the Church has been losing far too many of our young people when they leave home and go off to college! Many will come back to church eventually (often with plenty of unnecessary baggage!) but many will not. But whether they come back or not, we are missing a huge opportunity while they are in college!

I'm tired of people making comments about what it will be like when students get out into the "real world." Even college students live in the real world--this isn't a fantasy novel. They face tough challenges and work hard and overcome obstacles. They are practicing skills they will need and making real decisions that will shape their lives and the lives of others. It's a different season, but it's very real.

It's in vogue to call young liberal students "snowflakes," but as I've heard Brady Bobbink say, I've known many who have been to hell and back and haven't melted away yet. The Lord chose David when he was a young man to fight a giant that all the adults were too afraid to fight. Paul told Timothy to not let others look down on him because of his age but to set the example in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. Many of these young people on campus are setting an example I wish we in the church would follow. They are fighting spiritual battles against a very real, very powerful enemy. They are making a difference in the lives of their peers, living out the biblical vision for community rather than the American dream vision of privacy and property. Do they have much to learn from their elders? Of course! But do their elders have some things to learn from them? Absolutely.

I can't think of a more important thing to be doing with my time and talents and money than to make disciples of college students and help them mature in the Lord. They are not the church of tomorrow; they are an important part of the church of today. My prayer is that God would give them many tomorrows so that these amazing young disciples will one day be the amazing elders our churches sorely need. We've got plenty of seniors filling the pews, but far too few true spiritual elders preparing and equipping the next generation.

More to come on this topic, but I want to say thank you to all of you who believe in what I'm giving my life for, who pray for me consistently, encourage me along the way, and invest the money that you've earned to be a blessing to young people you may never meet, but whose lives are absolutely transformed by you regardless. God sees the connections. He knows your fruit even if you don't. And He's doing something so cool on these campuses through our partnership. To God be the glory!




It's time for our annual SICM fundraiser again, and it's going to be a great show! It's a little earlier this year, on Saturday, February 29. You can get your tickets for $20 at anyfocus.org/showcase

And don't forget about the $50 VIP ticket experience! Seats in the front 3 rows, a special snack box put together by Debbie Sustaita, priority parking, backstage access between shows, and more!


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