Every year about this time I start the daunting process of distributing our year-end survey to all 66 campus ministry leaders at the University of Texas. It’s the most difficult thing I do all year, but it results in one of the most rewarding things I do all year.
It’s risky asking 66 leaders from many different backgrounds and denominations to complete the same survey. They all value different things and measure “success” differently. I know some of them well and others not so well. Some don’t believe in tracking numbers (people) while others love to. Insert denominational jokes here.
This may seem hard to believe, but every year several conflicts arise from administering this survey. Whether it is me getting frustrated by people not completing the survey in time (they have 4 weeks to complete it) or someone getting frustrated at me for being a bully in the way we demand participation.
I dread it. Like most people, I hate conflict. I want to avoid it, but what I want even more is the opportunity to create a valuable and accurate tool for campus ministries. The Longhorn Chronicles, our annual spiritual map of the University of Texas, is worth it. Just two weeks ago a possible new UT church planter came to Austin to meet me. I gave him the Longhorn Chronicles and he was simply amazed to receive such valuable information.
It was a blast last year to gather 117 campus ministers at our annual Campus Minister Luncheon. There we reveled the latest statistics collected through the year-end surveys and had extremely lively roundtable discussions about the data. Campus ministers shared testimonies about evangelism, prayer, missional communities, international students, ethnic student ministry, athletic ministry, and more.
This annual gathering is the biggest bird’s eye view of God’s work at the University of Texas. It is one of my favorite gatherings of the year, and I believe 100 campus ministry leaders would say the same.
This last year we invited Dave Warn, from Collegiate Impact, to speak to us. He spoke about the keys to spiritual breakthrough. The hearts of 117 college pastors were stirred with the truths that prayer, repentance, and humility are key to spiritual breakthrough. We ended the day by gathering students for All Campus Worship. It was beautiful. Dave Warn said he had never seen anything like it in all of his years of campus ministry.
So is the risk worth the reward? I hope so. I have to remind myself of the reward during this season – the time of great risk.
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 Network and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.