The following is an excerpt from my book Campus Renewal – A Practical Plan to Unite Campus Ministries in Prayer and Evangelism.
We’re Sent Like Jesus Was Sent
In Jesus’s longest recorded prayer in John 17, He said to His Father, “As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Jesus is sending us the same way that He was sent. So how was Jesus sent? He was sent incarnationally. He left the holiest of huddles to dwell with sinful men — to live, work, and play among them. Jesus is sending us to do the same. He is calling us to get out of our holy huddles and build relationships with communities of lost people.
Most Christian students are engaged in too many Christian activities. They are in Bible studies, on worship teams, and on leadership teams. They attend worship services two or three times a week and are often involved in more than one ministry. These activities, in addition to studies and perhaps having a job, crowd out time for relationships outside of the Christian community. This cannot be what Jesus intended for His people, when one of His last prayers and His very last words were about making disciples from within lost communities.
We Cannot Separate Ourselves
In the same prayer, Jesus says, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth” (John 17:15–17). Jesus did not want His disciples to separate from the world, but to be sanctified by truth in the midst of the world. He wants to transform our lives so that we are in the world, but not of the world.
Yet, so often believers have felt they needed to separate from the world in order to be sanctified. Well-meaning parents and youth pastors scare incoming freshmen into thinking they will get sucked in by the temptations on college campuses. They warn them to find a fellowship so that they do not lose their faith. Of course, they should find fellowship, but they should not, out of fear of the world, separate themselves from other communities on campus by isolating themselves in Christian communities. They need to find fellowships that will disciple them and equip them to be missionaries in their classes, clubs, and residences.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.