During the month of February, many campus ministries at the University of Texas are working together to have students on campus sharing the gospel each week day from 10am to 7pm. We call the initiative Beautiful Feet.
Last Thursday, my fellow blogger, Scott Tipton, and I went out on campus to share the gospel with students. We had wonderful conversations with five students in just 90 minutes. The conversations got me thinking about a number of truths that I tend to forget.
Students Are Open To Spiritual Conversations
We approached six different students. Only one said he was trying to study for a test and could not speak to us. It may have been that he just did not want to talk with us about religion. Even so, that means five out of six students are willing to talk to complete strangers who awkwardly and abruptly approach them and ask if they are willing to let us ask questions about their beliefs.
I cannot think of a time/place where people are more open to spiritual conversations than during college. That’s why so many college pastors, like myself, believe that college ministry is one of the most important kinds of ministry. It’s a learning environment on campus, and students are open to many ideas.
Last Thursday we approached a dark-skinned fellow who turned out to be Muslim, but was very willing to talk to us. We had a great conversation and Scott (who knows Arabic) shared the gospel with him. He said he disagreed with us but was happy to have the conversation. Just before we left he said, “It really means a lot that you would approach a dark-skinned, long-haired, bearded, sitting-by-himself kind of guy like me to talk about something so important as religion.”
Even those furthest from believing the gospel are happy to talk about it.
Students Are Open To Campus Ministries
Three of the five students we approached said they would like to get connected with a campus ministry. One of these students seemed to be a genuine believer, but had yet to find a home. A few hours later the college pastor at the Wesley Foundation emailed to tell me he had already set up an appointment with him!
The other two had some faith background that seemed, in my opinion, to be more cultural than genuine. Even those two were willing to get connected with a church. They, too, gave me their contact info so that I could connect them with a campus ministry.
There are so many studies out there that seem to show that students leave the church when they go to college. Our research at the University of Texas, which is quite extensive, shows that this is not necessarily true. Students who were involved in church activities more than once a week in high school are equally involved in campus ministries at UT. Those who just attended Sunday services once a week or less in high school (I assume they were made to do so by parents) are the ones who fall off once they get to UT.
These are the students who, whether genuine believers or not, are very open to campus ministries. In a campus-wide survey we did at the University of Texas, more than 50% of students said they would attend a campus ministry meeting or church service if they were simply invited to do so by a friend!
Christian students, if you just make friend and invite people to church, many will join you. In Texas at least, many students have the Christian culture (even if not genuine believers) and would gladly join you in worship where they could really be touched by the Holy Spirit and respond to Jesus.
College students are open the the gospel and to Christian communities. Like Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few (Matthew 9:36).”
Justin Christopher is the national campus director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Project and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.