College is a unique time in everyones lives: freedom that we have never had before, responsibility for things we have previously never had, trying to figure out what we want to do with our lives, and trying to decipher what we believe about the world. It’s a time in which one of the last things on our minds is how to be missional right where we are.
I stumbled upon this blog post by Matt Jensen, a pastor at Mars Hill in Seattle. He explains 7 ways we can be missional while in college. There is a video that goes with this blog post, but I would urge you to watch it after you read what he has to say.
“At many universities, the nations come to you. The University of Washington has over 100 different countries represented, which means you can be a cross-cultural missionary by knocking on the dorm or apartment door across the hall.
The variety of affinity groups is astounding as well. It’s easy to connect with someone over a common interest. (At UW, there’s even a Fried Chicken Club.) The options are endless.
Arguably the strongest connection, however, is life stage. Most students are experiencing radical changes in their lives, including unharnessed freedom, real responsibility, solidifying worldviews, and an increasing pressure to “get it together.”
The college years are an amazing time to be on mission, reaching your friends with the life-changing good news of Jesus. How? Here are some ideas, in no particular order:
1. Know non-Christians
It seems like common sense, but too many campus ministries are set up to babysit nice, moralistic, hypocritical youth group kids and create a bubble around them. As Christians, we have to be outwardly focused. As the Father sent Jesus, Jesus sends us into the culture. It’s so much easier to share the gospel if you belong before you ask people to believe (John 20:21).
2. Think about where you will live
Make your living situation missional: meet new friends and build relationships to see students meet Jesus instead of secluding yourself with people who all act and think the same way you do. Grab a Christian friend and move into the wildest apartment complex in the neighborhood. Don’t conform, but be a movement of change in an area where it’s desperately needed.
3. Join the Greek system
There’s instant community established by living in the Greek system, and people in sororities and fraternities know everyone. Once you’re in, you become really well connected and are able to be on mission in an extreme environment. Yeah, I know: they sin a lot. So does everyone else in college (1 Cor. 9:19–23).
4. Get involved (not just at church)
Join a club related to your major, hobby, or interest. Stop saying yes to every church obligation and begin seeking how the gospel can apply to all areas of life. Build relationships by playing intramural sports on a team without all your Christian friends.
5. Start a small group in public
Instead of meeting in a house or apartment, start gathering in a coffee shop or study hall. This will not only allow you to support the local community, but it might also allow somebody else to eavesdrop on a worthwhile conversation.
6. Serve the community
Get involved with a local non-profit or service center. By serving the community alongside non-believers, you’re doing the work that Jesus calls us to do by being missional not only to the populations you’re serving, but also to the people you’re serving alongside.
7. Practice radical hospitality
College students aren’t known for being the most financially well-off or generous people around. Buying a classmate coffee or lunch is a small sacrifice that can speak volumes and make a huge statement in demonstrating grace. This could also mean driving the drunks home from a party and sharing the gospel with them the next day as you take them to get their car.
You have a few short years to reach people who will scatter throughout the world and live for something or someone. The key to being a missionary on a university campus is believing Jesus is worthy of every student’s worship, for his glory and our friends’ eternal joy!”
Here’s his video: http://vimeo.com/10851181
There are some good tid-bits here, and I especially like the emphasis on getting outside of your church. This is where it becomes hard for Christians, including myself. We know where we can serve and how we can do it comfortably, so we always turn back to the church to tell us what to do and where to go. But I think the impact is greater when you turn to a place where you already have an impact, and become missional there. For instance, instead of going to church to be told to serve on campus, stay on campus and serve. You know people there, you are involved in groups and organizations, those are the places you should be sharing the gospel.
I really like how Matt ties up the end: “The key to being a missionary on a university campus is believing Jesus is worthy of every student’s worship, for his glory and our friends’ eternal joy!” How awful of friends, co-workers, fraternity brothers, sorority sisters, and classmates do we have to be to not share this message? I know summer is coming up, but this is a good time to reflect, think about these questions and prepare for next year.
1.) How missional was I last year? Are there relationships I need to continue to grow in and foster for next year? Do I need to look in other places to be missional?
2.) Where am I already going to be involved on campus? Are there organizations that I am in where people know me and I can become missional?
3.) How can I prepare myself this summer for a year of being missional at Mizzou? What resources do I need to study through to help me learn and prepare? Do I know the Bible?
4.) Which number from Matt’s blog is the easiest for me to do? Which one is the hardest or would challenge me the most? What will make me uncomfortable?
Just a last little note: the video of college students being baptized on Easter is so motivational for me. That is why we need to be missional — so we can see our friends, co-works, classmates, etc. professing that they love Jesus and want to submit to His will and authority.