One of the things that makes Campus Renewal Ministries (CRM) different from other churches and campus ministries who practice missional communities is that we believe in uniting the Body of Christ in each people group. Most campus ministries birth missional communities from their assimilation, meaning students come to their large group and are funneled into various missional communities that “belong” to that ministry.
CRM starts from a different place. We identify students who have a heart for a particular people group (part of the campus) and encourage them to ask the other believers in that people group to start a missional community, whether they are part of the same campus ministry or not. We believe students can be deeply committed to one ministry and have a separate mission that may not be comprised of students within their same campus ministry.
Neither way is right or wrong, but there are pros and cons to doing it either way. Here are a few reasons why CRM believes in uniting Christians in each particular people group is the best strategy.
CRM’s model allows believers in the missional community to spend more time together because they share the same people group. For instance, the missional community the honors quad at the University of Texas is comprised of 6-8 students who are all part of different ministries but they have the same mission field, the quad. These students see each other all the time because the live in the same dorm and have many of the same classes. These students don’t just see each other on Sunday and at their mid-week missional community meeting. They see each other daily.
Missional communities that are birthed out of assimilation often do not share the same people group. Thus, the missional community (if led well) really has many missions. The group is comprised of students with different majors, who live in different places, and have different social activities. This makes it very difficult to focus on any one people group. In CRM’s model, however, there is extreme focus because the group is comprised of people who share the same people group.
We believe that our unity is an apologetic. Jesus prayed, “…that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:23).” When unbelievers see the Christian community working together it breaks down some of their suspicions. When someone in their people group puts their faith in Christ, the missional community can recommend any number of churches/ministries for them to get involved with.
We believe this model can and should be replicated after college. Life just gets busier after college. Careers, marriages, and families pull Christians away from their Christian communities way more than the rhythms of college life. Most graduates will be spending 8-10 hours a day at work. We believe that if students can learn to united believers on mission where they live, work (study), and play in college, then they can and should do the same thing where they live, work, and play after college. It is a model for reaching cities and nations after college.
Of course good arguments can be made for the other model of forming missional communities and there are certainly holes in CRM’s model. That’s where you come in. Tell me which model you think is best and why.
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.