The last few weeks I have been writing about some of the challenges facing the campus-reaching movement at the University of Texas as we have grown. I wrote about the difficulties of leadership turnover and the changes in how Campus Renewal Ministries is perceived. This week I will write about the challenge it is to be the “ministry middleman.”
Playing The Middleman
Last April we gathered about twenty college pastors to talk about the future of our work. Jim Herrington, who moderated the conversation, first had us consider where we had come from. He asked us to look back as far as we could and list what we thought were the most important factors that contributed to the increased fruit we had seen thus far.
I was humbled that each round table listed me as a key factor in our growth. Each table agreed that we would not be were we are today had there not been someone at UT to make this their full-time job. They were acknowledging the power of having a middleman, a ministry focused solely on bringing the Body of Christ together.
As a middleman, Campus Renewal Ministries is able to give our full time and energy to necessary communication, collaboration, and administration necessary to do what we have all agreed to do together. That day, everyone admitted that we would not being praying together, spiritual mapping together,connecting missional communities together, and more without CRM.
Neutrality Of The Middleman
It helps to have a ministry middleman because the college ministries themselves have to develope their own ministries and give their time and attention to their role in the Body of Christ. They do not have time to give to the united movement (to the degree that we lead the movement at least) because if they did, they could not lead their own campus ministry well.
In addition, middlemen are helpful because they do not have a personal agenda other than the overall agenda. Campus ministers see Campus Renewal Ministries as “safe” because we’re neutral. We’re not trying to grow our ministry, but trying to grow their ministries. There is little concern from ministries about us “stealing” their students because we’re not doing what other campus ministries do such as weekly worship, small groups, mission trips etc.
More Than The Middleman
As the campus-reaching movement has grown, however, we’ve slowly become much more than a middleman. We have a Campus House of Prayer. We administer multiple campus-wide events for the ministries. We are coaching missional community leaders. We may not have a weekly worship gathering or traditional small groups, but we do have a team of students committed to our leadership team. We need them in order to do all that the college pastors want to do together.
As a result, we have “stolen” students from other ministries. Some students love the campus-wide movement, get connected with us, and now call Campus Renewal Ministries their home. This makes us more than a middleman.
In addition, leadership turnover in other ministries has led us to take on a greater leadership role in the campus-reaching movement. Naturally, it has taken more time to get new pastors connected relationally and to get them to “own” the vision so over the last several years CRM has steered the vision in a more hands-on way rather than waiting on the pastors to come together. This, too, makes us much more than a middleman.
I’m not sure if some of these new changes are for the good or the bad, but am sure that they are realities. I could use your prayers and encouragement as we seek God for direction in this new season.
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.