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Chapter 19: The Vision of Campus Ministry

I grew up in a very small town in Hooker, Oklahoma. My worldview was simple, rural, and defined by the edges of town that met the surrounding wheat fields. Sometimes I would look at the endless presence of the wheat fields and sense security and safety. Sometimes they would challenge me and make me want to grow and expand beyond them. Sometimes I was unable to see what was out there.

One of my favorite things about Churches of Christ is that they are autonomous in identity. Church leadership structure is localized and able to shape what that specific congregation’s identity and vision should be. But if we are not careful, we can forget what is out there. In the wheat field and beyond.

Our children grow up in this sanctuary. But the world continues to take them on a greater journey. The edge of town creates boundaries and not horizons. We forget that God continues to connect our purpose and calling beyond the edge of town, There is a balance, I am sure. You can only control what you can control. But the wheat field connects us to a greater calling. Our vision as a congregation and as believers much be willing to remember the field beyond us.

How about your congregation? How about your faith? Is your vision broader than the edge of town? Campus Ministry at our state-schools is the place beyond the edge of the wheat field. It is the place where our children are being shaped and defined by a very worldly realm. But they are also a place of great opportunity and potential if we accept the invitation to the harvest.

When the Apostle Paul experiences his third journey in Acts, there is a description of his time in Ephesus.

Acts 19:8 Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. 9 But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.

The lecture halls of Tyrannus. Tyrannus is only mentioned this one time in scripture. We have no idea whether he became a Christian or not. But Paul used Tyrannus’ building for daily discussion. He was able to meet everyday in a public place and create discussion and conversation about Jesus. Acts describes the impact of these two years vividly, “so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.”

Paul’s own words allude to the impact of this place when he writes to the church at Corinth from Ephesus. He has a vision of how being able to be in the lecture halls of Tyrannus has opened a “great door for effective work”.

1 Corinthians 16:5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.

Two of the biggest spiritual opportunities in my life occurred because of the love, presence and impact of Ralph Linsey and Mike Dawes. They were both campus ministers. These two men worked together at the Oklahoma State campus ministry to teach me how to love Jesus and serve His church. When I was a student at OSU, they gave me time, taught me God’s Word, and challenged me to grow. They spent time in prayer with me and over me through a thousand moments. They gave me opportunities to grow in my knowledge of scripture. They paid it forward into so many lives of college students they have never met.

As I became a young campus minister, I would get calls from mentors such as Bob Shepherd at West Texas A&M (Canyon, TX) and Jim Brinkerhoff at Auburn. They would give me wisdom and encouragement. Sharing the text from Acts about the Halls of Tyrannus and beyond. They helped me see beyond the wheat fields. I am grateful to hopefully pay it forward again when I shared with Jim's son, Ben, in our campus ministry.

One of my favorite comments on the role of campus ministry is from Jim.

“Each time, though, I thought to myself, ‘Where else could I go that carries with it the possibilities of the world vision that is inherent within campus ministries?’ We in campus ministries are among those who can rightfully claim to possess Archimedes’ Lever — ‘Give me a place to stand, and I will move the earth.’”

A great read on the role and value of campus ministry is shared by him in a conversation with the Christian Chronicle. I encourage you to read it here.

I want to encourage you to allow the missional call of Campus Ministry to be a part of your vision. Gather your congregation to adopt and support the college ministry that sits just beyond your wheat field. Gather your support, prayers, and encouragement to this great opportunity that God has placed within our reach. Click here to find out about how to support the UCatOKState campus ministry.

Matthew 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

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