Have you ever wanted concrete answers to questions like these?

  • How many students on your campus are involved in churches and campus ministries? 
  • How many students put their faith in Jesus in a given school year?
  • How many international students are there on campus and where are they from?
  • What is the ethnic breakdown of the campus compared to the ethnic breakdown of the campus at large?
  • How many students have graduated and gone onto the foreign mission field?
  • What parts of the campus are being reached and by whom, and what parts remain unreached?

The only way to get answers to these questions is to bring the whole Body of Christ together to share information.  This is exactly what happened at the 15th annual Campus Minister Luncheon, when 109 college pastors at The University of Texas at Austin gathered together last week to discuss the spiritual state of their campus.

Building Trusting Relationships

Before ministry leaders are willing to share information about their campus ministries, trust must first be established.  There is always the temptation to compete and compare with one another.  Until there is genuine humility and a vision for the “capital K” Kingdom, gathering this valuable information will be impossible.

In 1997, the college pastors at UT began to pray together weekly.  As their relationships grew, they began to trust each other and they became more concerned with the Kingdom than their “kingdoms.” 

Deciding What You Want To Know

In 2000, after one of our united prayer gatherings, the pastors started asking questions about the spiritual climate of our campus.  Later, we spent time creating a list, like the questions above, of what we would like to know about the true spiritual state of our campus.

The process of deciding what we wanted to know was instrumental in helping us get to know each other better too.  We learned more about each others’ ministries and what we each measure and value.  Collectively we arrived at a wonderful list of questions we wanted answers to, and we have added to the list every year since.

Creating and Distributing Surveys

Every April, we create and distribute a year-end survey to each of the 60 campus ministries and churches at UT.   Every ministry has 4 weeks to complete the survey, and while it is difficult to collect from everyone, the results are well worth it.

After the surveys are collected, the data is compiled and an annual report called the Longhorn Chronicles is written.  Because of this, we can now compare data from 2001 to 2015 to see trends in the Body of Christ and in the mission field of UT. Here is how we’ve seen changes in our spiritual climate: 

  • In 2001, 5.5% of UT students were involved in campus ministry, but now 12.85% are involved in campus ministry!  
  • Furthermore, from 2001-2006, an average of about 325 students a year were saved at UT, but from 2007-2015, an average of about 525 students a year were saved.
  • We’ve learned that 92 different “people groups” are being reached on campus through 134 missional communities.  
  • Latinos are the most unreached ethnic group at UT, and our campus is 19% Latino, but our campus ministries are only 7% Latino. 
  • There are 4,863 international students at UT from 126 different countries, and 16% are involved in our campus ministries and churches.

Celebrating the Results

Since 2001, not only have we compiled and reported on our date, but we have also gathered in an annual celebration to review the Longhorn Chronicles, have roundtable discussions, and hear dozens of testimonies.  It’s the biggest bird’s-eye view of the Kingdom at The University of Texas.   

The information gathered through our spiritual mapping efforts has given every ministry leader a clearer picture of their mission field and the part they play in the Body of Christ.  Leaders have shifted their strategies and plans as a result of what they have learned. 

It’s made everyone more effective.   Thus, the increase of the Body of Christ we have witnessed over the last 15 years.

justin_new 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 UT.