We’re in a bit of a transition, if you can call it that. It has been a slow transition over several years, but it has made an enormous impact on how we function. Truthfully, it has been really difficult for me. I’ve been confused and frustrated at various times over the last few years.
Over the last four or five years, many of the college pastors who were part of birthing the united campus-reaching movement have left UT. This fall when eighty campus ministers (pictured here) met for our annual luncheon, I scanned the crowd and realized not a single one had read “City Reaching” with me and the other college pastors back in 1999, which serves as a historical marker for when our more intensive campus-reaching efforts began.
Now and Then
Because we now have a concrete vision we’re no longer able to say, “We don’t know what we are doing but we’re convinced we need to do it together. Will you join us in prayer to figure it out?” Instead we now say something more like, “Here are the five or six things we’re doing together. Do you want to join us?” For a few years I have thought this was a really bad place to be, but this fall I have come to accept it as a reality… even a blessing.
It seems that we no longer have a core group of college pastors working together on every single thing. Rather, we form smaller groups of partnerships among leaders for specific projects. For instance:
- 8 ministries partnering to reach international students
- 4 ministries partnering to mobilize graduates to foreign missions
- 10 ministries partnered together on a 21-day fast this fall
- 17 ministries partnering to share the gospel on campus with 10,000 students this February
- 40 ministries partnering together for Rez Week 2012
Last week ten pastors from different campus ministries met to talk about how to move forward together. Some of these men have been on campus just 1-2 years and others have been at UT 10 -15 years. It was good to get the perspective of several who were here back in 1999 when we began campus reaching together and to get the perspective of those who arrived at UT with the campus-reaching movement in full swing.
The conversation is continuing. In fact, we plan to meet again next week. We agree that we want to see the campus transformed and that we need to do so together. We also recognize that the “on ramps” for new pastors is quite different from the “on ramps” of those who joined us 10-15 years ago. It’s even more complex now that there are 66 campus ministries at UT compared to about 40 ten years ago. Still, we’re committed to seeking God for partnerships that maximize our impact on students.
Over the next few weeks I will share some more of my thoughts on how these new conversations are going and how I see us moving forward together.
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 missional community movement at the University of Texas.