Recently my friend Guy Chmieleski asked me to write for his blog Faith on Campus. I wrote under the heading “If I were a college pastor today.” Here is that post adapted for my blog.
Living in a college community, I can’t imagine not investing in the next generation intentionally at that college. Austin Peay State University, our local university, is not only the fastest growing university in our state (Go Govs!), it’s also my alma mater. I also have two college-aged sons (one a graduate), which naturally draws me to the age.
I love college ministry, because it involves college students. Sounds like a fair reason, right? College students are confident, idealistic, and full of hope and passion for life. I love investing in them knowing they have years to carry out what they are learning. We have an incredible college ministry at Grace Community Church, led by Brandon Reed, a great college pastor, but I must be honest, sometimes I envious of his time with college students. I take advantage of hanging out with students whenever I get the chance.
So, while I’m not a college pastor, if I was one these days, I think I’d:
Help students understand their worth in Christ – When a student can operate out of this identity it will help them withstand some of the temptations they face.
Intentionally mentor a few superstars – I can’t reach all of them, but I can invest in a few. I would work to develop leaders who would in turn invest in others.
If invited, meet on their turf – I was invited to a college apartment recently. As they cleaned a place off the couch for me to sit and kicked various drink cans under the bed (which was in the same room), I was reminded that this was a special opportunity I had been privileged to attend. I felt I had enter the sacred grounds of college life again.
Feed them – I like to buy lunch for college students. Now if any of ours read this my requests will increase and I may have to say no, but it’s amazing how open students become when there is a free meal in front of them.
Let them be themselves – I think it’s important not to try to change them or conform them to a standard, other than Jesus. They are in a period of discovery. Let them explore and stay close enough to help steer them to Christ.
Be myself – Don’t try to “fit in” with college students if you aren’t one. Be the age you are and the person you are. They can spot an impostor quickly.
Have fun – College is a fun period of life. It should be less stressful. When you are hanging out with college students, don’t expect to be serious all the time. There will be times when they are very serious (even deep), but sometimes are just to hang. That’s okay.
I’m not a college pastor, but if I was…I’d love it! Anyone looking to hire one? (Just kidding…kind of…)
What would you add to my list?