Campus ministries need local support

9/23/2009

By Frank Haynes
Youth & Young Adult Ministries

Two weeks ago I had the privilege to gather with some of our campus ministers from across the state to discuss issues regarding campus ministry within our conference. After our meeting, I quickly realized how little campus ministry is discussed within the church among all denominations.

I suppose, since this is often the least discussed ministry within the church, it is not ironic that this demographic is the least engaged with the church according to most statistics. I hope to raise awareness so that your local bodies may consider ways you can support college students in your churches and towns. I also hope that you may consider partnering with some of our campus ministries that you find nearby your church.

I want to mention two important statistics to garner your attention. First, Ivy Jungle, an organization relating to college ministry, states that 70 percent of Protestants by age 23 will leave church. More than one-third state they had not returned by the age of 30. Tim Elmore, founder and president of Growing Leaders, a website dedicated to studying and fostering leadership among college students and young adults, states that according to the U.S. Labor Department, those between the ages of 18-25 will make five out of the seven greatest foundational decisions in their life. These include items such as faith, relationships and career. Elmore indicates these are foundational because they guide one’s choices throughout life.  

College students and young adults (18-30) are rapidly leaving the church and making life-impacting decisions without the power and guidance of the church which speaks the voice of Christ.

Speaking at a campus ministry retreat recently, I compared the college and young adult life to life in the wilderness, a place of hardship, struggle and temptation. When tempted, Jesus reminds Satan and himself that, “mankind does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” 

I am grateful that we have many individuals in our conference who have given themselves to be that voice in the wilderness and lead these students and young adults to the true bread of life. As the church, I believe it is all of our responsibility to partner with them in this challenging task. Pray for campus ministers and consider contacting them to ask how you may partner with them in their ongoing ministry.

Haynes serves as the conference coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Reach him at 601-354-0515 ext. 28 or frank@mississippi-umc.org.