Since many of you are engaged in Finals Week (or will be shortly), yesterday I blogged 29 ways to use the week for ministry. Today, I’d like to point out one more way – but it’s a ministry form you could (and should!) engage in year round.
There’s probably no better week than Finals Week to practice your “ministry of presence” on campus. That means simply sitting, being around, connecting with people organically as an adopted member of their campus tribe. It means hours or a whole day spent in the student center or in some other well-trafficked area. It might mean visiting Study Breaks or various other happenings, too, like athletics events or graduation rehearsal or a parents’ event or graduation. In other weeks of the semester there would be other options, too. In any case, you know your campus and where a ministry of presence could be a ministry indeed.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the activities and rhythms of “Doing College Ministry” that we neglect being there. We might even make the excuse that we’re always “here” for students – meaning they can contact us when needed – but “here” is not the same as being there, “on their turf and on their terms,” which is the handy, shorthand, practical definition I use for the widely ballyhooed term “missional.”
It’s amazing what you can learn from time spent there, too: the campus culture you pick up on, the students and types of students you meet that (probably) won’t ever come to your ministry, the understanding you gain of the administration and staff and how they’re actually running the school. You talk to students you know, of course, and can even encourage them to come by your “office hours” on campus. It’s not wasted time, if you’re doing it right. You get work done, catch up on reading, pray for the campus you’re looking at, even have your own devotional time with the Lord… all while you wait to see who He might drop into your booth in the student center, or who you might bump into (student or staff) at a sports event or campus party.
I’m well aware that this sort of thing “makes sense” at some schools more than others. But I would also guess that it would be impactful at a lot more schools than we’d imagine. Even a day on campus every week or two might work wonders for your job as a missionary to that campus.
And Finals Week is an excellent week to practice.