For the next few weeks I will write about the eight practices of missional communities, what Campus Renewal Ministries calls “Spark Groups.” These eight practices are described with greater detail in CRM’s Spark Course, which trains missional community leaders.
Pick a People Group
The place to start is by picking a people group.
While we are called to be evangelists everywhere we go, it is strategic to give most of your time and energy to one specific people group such as your dorm floor, a club you are a part of, a sports team, an ethnic group or ethnic student organization, your major/classmates, etc. On college campuses there literally hundreds of people groups.
At the University of Texas we breakdown people groups into these four categories: College (your major), Clubs (student organizations and sports teams), Residences (dorms, Co-Ops, apartment complexes, fraternity houses), Cultures (ethnic groups, ethnic student associations, international students).
Start Where You Are
When picking a people group, start with where you are. Sometimes God calls you to “go” to a people group you are not a part of, but most often he simply wants you to demonstrate and declare the gospel where you already are on a daily basis.
So where do you spend most of your time on campus? Where is the bulk of your interaction with friends who are not following Jesus? Is it where you live, like in your dorm? Is it where you work, on the job? It is in your classes, where you study? Is it in your social life, where you are involved outside of school?
You want to pick a people group where there is a lot potential for relationship building. For instance, depending on what you are studying you may or may not see the same people each semester. UT’s nursing school accepts students into a two-year program where they all have the same classes every day. This is a perfect people group because these students will be in all of the same classes for two full years.
Other schools, like the business school at UT, are too big to be their own people group though students have joined organizations within the business school such as the Asian American Business Students Association and made that community their people group.
Burst the Christian Bubble
It’s possible that you cannot think of a group of people you spend time with each week that are outside of the Christian community. If that’s the case, you are going to have to be even more intentional in building relationships outside of the Body of Christ on your campus.
Sometimes followers of Jesus on campus are involved in two or three different campus ministries and end up having Bible studies or worship gathering nearly every day of the week. It is impossible to be the “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) that God has called you to be on campus if you are surrounded by Christians all the time.
So consider where God has you on campus, burst the bubble, and pick a people group where you can be on mission.
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.