Last Saturday we held a lively gathering of current and potential missional community leaders at UT. Those who have been faithfully leading missional communities were there to share stories and cast vision to a number of students who were hearing about missional communities for the first time. We’re hopeful that all of the new students will respond to God’s call and begin to lead their own missional community.
The missional community movement at UT grew tremendously from 2005 to 2010, going from 20 missional communities on campus to more than 200. Since 2010, however, the movement has not grown. We still have about 200 active missional communities, which means there is still roughly 300 unreached communities on campus.
I thought I’d spend the next two weeks considering some reasons why the movement has stalled. Some of the reasons relate to the students themselves (what I will consider in this post) and other reasons can be attributed to the campus ministries and their partnership together (what I will write about next week).
Ultimately, the movement is not growing because there are not enough students willing to live on mission. There are roughly 5000 students involved in campus ministry and only 1000 students in missional communities. So only 20% of the Christian community has adopted a people group to demonstrate and declare the gospel among. Here are some of the reasons why.
I think this is the biggest issue. Students to not realize that God has made them missionaries. They have mistakenly believed that it is their pastor’s job to share the gospel or the job of their friends who are more gifted than them. They don’t realize that God wants to use them to impact their communities and use all of their gifts evangelistically. Ultimately, we all live out what we believe to be true about ourselves. The bottom line? Students don’t believe that God has made them to be His ambassadors on campus.
Many students do not live on mission because they are involved in too many ministry activities. They spend so much time in their Christian communities that they never have time to build relationships with students outside of the church. This is a real problem. You can’t live on mission without making time for it. Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Sadly, many Christians at UT do not make time to build relationships with the lost.
I am convinced that some Christians at UT really want lead a missional community, they just don’t know how. These students would step out in faith if only they could be equipped to do so. Students want to know how to lead a missional community and they want to be connected with others who are living on mission so that they can learn from one another. Some Christians at UT just need a little encouragement. If we have more equipping opportunities and coaching networks we could see the movement begin to grow again.
I hate to say it, but I believe this is true. We’re just not obeying Jesus’ call on our lives. I honestly believe that 100% of Christians at UT (all 5000) should have a specific community on campus that they are reaching with the gospel, but only 20% are doing so. That means 80% are being disobedient. Fear, busyness, distraction, greed, selfishness, and apathy have blinded our eyes to those around us and the call of God on our lives.
This should remind us again that the gospel is for us. We need Jesus. We need Him to change us and give us His heart and His eyes. Coming to Him in repentance can soften our hearts again, so like Paul, the love of God can “compel us” to mission (II Corinthians 5:14).
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.