When I began my tenure with Campus Christians one year ago, my heart was filled with hope. I hoped to make a positive impact in the lives of students at The University of Kansas. I hoped to see Campus Christians grow as students came to hear the Gospel. I also hoped, maybe most of all, to put myself on the frontline of an effort to unite the various ministries at KU in prayer and mission.
There are over forty campus ministries at The University of Kansas. Each one has a vibrant and diverse ministry to at least one faction of KU’s 27,000 students, and although each group would agree that we are working toward similar goals, it can be difficult to see a need for each other. After all, we’ve been doing this for awhile, right? Campus Christians, for example, is in its 44th year at KU!
Our Need for One Another
I have begun to realize that perhaps the truest challenge of unity is in finding our need for one another.
It can prove difficult to recognize our need for each other in planning events if we’re pretty successful at planning them on our own. It can be difficult to see a need for each other in planting missional communities if our ministry has a thriving small-group ministry on its own. It can even be difficult to recognize our need for each other in prayer if we are already in regular prayer with our co-ministers and student leaders.
I believe that God has a desire to see the ministries at KU united in all of these efforts, but before we can reach that unity, we must find our need for each other. But where is it?
Our Need in Personal Tragedy
Recently, I met with a campus worship leader who was reeling from the recent discovery that his wife had been unfaithful to him. He was broken and distraught as he clamored to share his pain with me, and in the midst of this personal tragedy, he felt a sense of anxiety about continuing in his worship ministry.
It was in that moment of openness that I felt our need for each other.
As much as we may feel that we need each other to see The Kingdom come on our campuses, it’s not easy to convince other ministers of that if they don’t already see it themselves. However, if we can take one step backward, away from the pressures of our ministry, we may find it easier to see our need for each other on a personal level.
We can be united, not to accomplish certain ministry goals, but to build each other up as we each struggle with everything that real life throws at us. It’s from this point of personal unity that The Holy Spirit can then move us into unity in prayer, mission and event-planning, because we’re already seeing that unity in our personal lives.
My heart is still filled with hope as I begin my second school year as a campus minister. I am counting on growth in our ministry, and I’m looking forward to unity in prayer and mission among the ministries at KU. I’m willing, though, to be patient as The Lord convicts us of our need for each other.
John Benda is the Director of Campus Christians at The University of Kansas. He has worked in church ministry as a worship leader, high school pastor, associate pastor and teacher. John has also sold used books, cleaned carpets, flipped pancakes and waited tables to make ends meet, and often plays drums in his rock&roll band for absolutely no money at all. He began working in college ministry in 2014. John and his beautiful wife, Lydia, live in Lawrence, Kansas.