Saturday, March 7, 2020

Why I'm a Campus Pastor, Part 2

I'm a campus pastor, a missionary to UTD, because I firmly believe that "One on one is how it's done." Real ministry is personal, relational. It takes time; it takes knowing people. Real ministry takes place in the context of real relationships. Young people have more access than ever before to the best Christian preachers on Youtube, the best Christian musicians on Spotify and in concert, the best Christian thinkers through books and podcasts, yet the Church is continuing to lose our young people in droves!

We've replaced the lap with the lecture as our primary means of discipleship. What I mean is this: instead of learning the faith life on life, parents and pastors alike have outsourced the transmission of the faith to "experts" in order to cope with our own busyness. But discipleship can only go so far in a mass-production context.

In FOCUS, we have an axiom about this: "We're a custom shop, not a factory." It comes from reflecting on the slow and seemingly inefficient ministry model of Jesus. Mark 3:14 reads, "He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach." Luke would observe later in the story that the Jewish rulers couldn't understand the powerful ministry of those chosen men: "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus."

One more axiom: "Character is more caught than taught." It was being with Jesus that had transformed and empowered Peter and John. We can't improve upon Jesus' ministry method. It's this "inefficient" ministry model that drives my passion for campus ministry. As Robert Coleman observed at the very beginning of his book The Master Plan of Evangelism“It all started by Jesus calling a few men to follow him... His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow...  Men were to be his method of winning the world to God.”

College students have time to spend with me. They have time to practice what they are learning. The campus gives me access to them in a way that's hard to get after they start their careers. I get to spend the bulk of my time mentoring young men and women and seeing them step up to do the same with others. It's not just about a once a week Bible study/mentoring time, though those are so important! It's also about living life alongside them so they can see what life lived as a disciple looks like, as best as I can exemplify that. Brady Bobbink recently reminded my entire pastoral staff, "Students are looking for us to act like people they could become. They don't need us to act like them."

I'm a campus pastor because there's a need for disciples to make disciples on campus the same slow, transformative way that the Master showed us so long ago. Thank you for empowering me to be present with these young adults. It's bearing good fruit!

Showcase and SICM

Just a quick note that Showcase was incredible! The show was better than ever, and we raised over $20,000 to help send students to SICM! (We're still waiting on the exact total.) We have 65 students signed up to attend in May, and we're expecting nearly that many for the June trip. Thank you to all of you who spent money to help these young people have this experience. I was talking to a senior yesterday at lunch, and he told me that of all the Christian trips and camps and conferences he's ever been to, nothing came close to being as impactful as SICM. It's worth it!

Please, say a prayer that we can find cheap plane tickets when we buy them in a week or so. Also, pray that we can find cheaper prices on rental vans. We have some reserved, but they are hundreds of dollars more than in years past. And pray that the coronavirus doesn't disrupt the whole trip!

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