How can you tell if someone is in campus ministry? Their calendar year doesn’t start on the first of January but at the start of a new school year.
One of the realities of campus ministry is that it has its own rhythm and flow – its own schedule and pace. It usually looks like this: Four months of going full-throttle, a month to slow down a little and re-organize, four more months of going full-throttle, and three months to do mission trips and discipleship projects, meet and contact incoming freshmen, solidify support, rest and re-energize, and prepare to do it all over again.
But the start of a new school year has its own special feel.
Traffic is crazy.
Students (and not just freshmen) are wandering around campus, looking for classes, with bewildered looks on their faces.
Road construction is going on. (Why does the city always wait until August to do street repairs around campus?)
There is no place to park.
There is excitement in the air.
This is my 33rd fall semester of campus ministry. The thing that gets me most excited about the start of the school year – the thing that gets my heart pumping and my mind working – is the thing that I know and don’t know.
What I Know
I know that during this school year, God is going to transform the lives of students from all over the world. Some will give their lives to Christ for the first time. Some will begin to grasp the implications of really following Jesus and it will change the way they think and live. Some will come to the realization that God is calling them to something bigger than their major or the goals they have set for their lives.
I know that God is at work on our campus. I know that God is going to change lives. And I know that God wants to use me and our staff and our students and our ministry to be a part of what He wants to accomplish.
What I Don’t Know
But I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. I have learned in over 32 years of doing this is that it is our role to plan and prepare and pray. We build relationships and plant seeds. But God has His own agenda and His own plans and we need to be ready to follow His leading. Many of the students whose lives will be changed this year we haven’t met yet. We don’t know where they are from or what they believe or don’t believe or how we will get involved in their lives.
And for most of them, the last thing they are expecting right now – as they are starting this school year – is that they are going to have an encounter with the Almighty God while at the University of Arkansas. But they will and they will never be the same.
And we get to be a part of it. I can’t wait. Are you ready?
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Mike Armstrong (@_mikearmstrong_) is in his 33rd year of ministry to students at the University of Arkansas with Christ on Campus and is a past president of the Association of College Ministries. He is also part of a group of leaders from about a dozen campus ministries who have prayer together on a weekly basis for over 17 years. You can read his blog at http://www.michaelarmstrong.net/ or find him on Facebook at THEMikeArmstrong.