One of the difficult aspects of campus ministry is the high turnover of students. It seems that just when you get some forward momentum, you lose leaders to graduation. It’s not just true of students. There is also a high degree of turnover for college pastors. The high turnover rate of students and ministers make it difficult to build lasting partnerships, because the two key ingredients to authentic unity take time to develop. At the University of Texas, we have many new student leaders and campus ministers, so we have been asking ourselves the following question: How can we re-engage in the process growing trusting relationships and developing a common vision?
Unity begins with a common vision. Unity is not the goal. Rather, the goal is what unifies us. For the Body of Christ on our campuses to have authentic unity, we need to have the same vision for a transformed campus. There needs to be a vision bigger than any one ministry – a vision that demands partnership.
At UT, we began to develop a shared vision by first praying together. We met weekly to pray, asking God to do something bigger than any one of our individual ministries. We watched the Sentinel Group’s Transformations Videos to give us a picture of what our campus would look like were God to bring transformation. We engaged in conversations over many years, which led to a vision statement and a few united strategies.
Developing a shared vision takes time in prayer and conversation.
Unity is only possible where there are trusting relationships with one another. At UT we like to say that campus ministry leaders had to move from tolerating one another, to accepting one another, to valuing one another before they could really move forward together.
Trust does not grow in a vacuum. Trust only grows through spending time together. That is why we leaders need to pray together. As leaders hear other leaders’ heart for the campus expressed through prayer, they will grow appreciate each other and understand that they are on the same team. As they work on an event or project together, and honor one another above themselves, trust and genuine friendships can begin to grow.
Developing trusting relationships takes time in prayer and co-laboring.