I was looking at the job description for a national, collegiate-involved organization the other day, and one of their emphases for this position would be “building university relations.”
While I’m not yet sure what this group means by it, university relations is on many college ministries’ priority lists, even if they happen to call it something else. (I usually refer to this area as “Campus Integration,” and you can find posts on this topic under Campus Integration in the categories list!)
The importance of campus integration – in the broadest sense – applies whether an organization is part of the standard panorama of college ministries on a campus, or it’s a larger outside ministry that also hopes to impact a campus. Any ministry that connects with a campus should care about campus integration.
And if you need a working definition of Campus Integration, mine sounds something like this:
Prioritizing winsome involvement within the larger “campus tribe,” striving to participate as a valuable (and valued) community member.
It probably looks something like the second half of Romans 12, applied to how a ministry interacts with students, administration, etc.:
Honor one another above yourselves. … Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. … Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
But all that intro leads to something that might make us less comfortable: Other collegiate ministry that takes place on your campus makes up “the campus community,” too.
So if you’re doing everything you can to connect well with the administration, to get in good with the Greek system, to “live at peace” with faculty, to work alongside student organizations… but you’re not interested in the other college ministers and their groups, are you really a great community member?
Hopefully our attention to “winsome involvement within the larger ‘campus tribe'” isn’t only for the purposes of recruitment and red-tape-avoidance – wouldn’t that be sad? Hopefully we’re interested in campus integration because it’s right – and if so, then other campus ministries should find us winsome fellow-workers… at least as “far as it depends on [us].”