“He ministered in me by giving me a firm conviction to follow through with something that was on my heart for a while – to start a missional community within my major.”
This was a response I received when I asked students to share a sentence or two about what God did in or through them last spring during Rez Week.
“What major are you?” I asked, “I’d love to hear more about the missional community!”
“I am an architecture major!” the students replied, “I have actually already asked four of my friends in my year and in my major who I had an inkling would be interested in starting one with me – and they are! Praise the Lord! We are meeting up this weekend hopefully to talk about vision and goals. I hope to reach out to other years once we have touched base with each other! I am a little uncertain about how a missional community goes, as I’ve never been in one before, so I’d love to hear y’all’s thoughts about it too! Thank you for asking!”
So begun a relationship with this student, and so begun the architecture missional community. I recently met with this student and the other student she had recruited to lead the missional community with her. They’re doing fantastic, and here is what I learned from my conversation with them.
It Takes Vision
First, students have to hear someone cast the vision for reaching their “people group” on campus.
These two students were part of different campus ministries and churches, yet they had both heard their pastors cast vision for a missional community movement on our campus. They had been challenged to think about the people and places God had put in their lives. They had been challenged to live like a missionary on campus.
They knew they should. However, they were both afraid to do so. They needed help.
It Takes Two
It turns out that each of their hesitations were related to recognition that they could not do it by themselves, and they were unsure anyone else would want to join them in this mission. They just needed to meet each other and have the conversation about what God was speaking to them.
When one of the students finally took the step of faith to talk to the other, they were amazed to see that God had already burdened each of them with the same vision. I have seen this time and time again. God is stirring students to start missional communities in their departments. They just need to meet each other.
It Takes Unity
This is the benefit of a ministry like Campus Renewal, that helps make connections among students and campus ministries.
The student I was corresponding with was a part of a ministry called Epic Movement. She knew that there was another Christian in her department that was a believer and part of the Baptist Student Ministry. I encouraged her to meet with him and tell him what was in her heart to do.
Since I know the college pastors of both Epic Movement and Baptist Student Ministry, I contacted them to tell them about the architecture students. After years of praying and working together, the pastors cared less about what would benefit their own ministry and more about what would benefit the “capital K Kingdom.” They were thrilled to connect their students to start a united missional community. Now, students from two other ministries/churches have joined them too!
It Takes Prayer and Planning
United, these students have taken the very simple steps of prayer and planning. They meet weekly for an hour to pray for their friends in their department and to plan by asking the question, “What can we do individually or corporately to reach out to our department this week.”
This is the simple missional rhythm: Pray outwardly focused prayers for your department, then plan simple next steps like baking cookies for the class, planning a party to watch the football game, starting a tutoring program for younger students, inviting someone to lunch, etc. These are simple measurable things that intentionally build relationships with students, but make all the difference.
Best of all, in my opinion, this is a training ground for how to live life beyond college. If you can lead a missional community in the architecture school, then you can lead a missional community in the firm you work for in the future. It’s a simple way to raise up marketplace missionaries that literally change the world.
Justin Christopher is the Campus Director for Campus Renewal at The University of Texas at Austin and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the UT.