What comes to your mind when I mention campus ministry? There are a lot of possible answers to that question. Some might say that campus ministry exists to serve the students coming from a Reformed background. In reality, CRC campus ministries welcome students from a variety of backgrounds into their faith communities.
Campus ministry has a lasting influence in God’s kingdom, and there’s a lot we can learn from these ministries about mission. First, campus ministries have an ability to connect with students from around the world. International students come with a curiosity about the Christian faith and this person named Jesus. Some are transformed into followers of Jesus through the campus ministry. Even if these students spend only a short time at the university, the ministry to the campus has a lasting effect on their lives. Many return home and influence their culture in business, medical fields, and academics. Those who have become followers of Jesus share their faith in churches large or small.
Another way that campus ministries serve God’s kingdom is through leadership development. Developing leaders might be the greatest contribution to the local church. As young people develop their sense of calling, some who planned on secular careers find that they are called into full-time ministry. Other students may still pursue their sacred calling in a variety of ways. A few years ago, an engineering student named Ben participated in a leadership program at Aeropagus Campus Ministry at Iowa State University, where he met one-on-one with an engineer to explore how he could bring his Christian beliefs into his everyday work after graduating. Students graduating from campus ministry will be wonderful leaders in local churches, businesses, and communities.
Resonate Global Mission has a program called Emerging Leaders which offers grants to campus ministries for this purpose of developing leaders. This year, Loyola University in Illinois received a grant to support three new leaders for the ministry there called Agape and Ecclesia.
I’m excited about the ways God will equip and empower these young leaders in our region this year. Fall is the time when all these ministries are welcoming the students back on campus. Pray for effective bridges to be built with all students on campus and that the campus continues to produce vital leaders for the church wherever it may.
Peter Kelder is Resonate Global Mission's regional mission leader for the Central USA region