Pastors Simon Fensom and Randy Skow-Anderson singing together again during the 60th Anniversary Celebration for Lutheran Campus Ministry at Minnesota State University Moorhead on November 2, 2013. I offered thbe following remarks during the program.
Seven reasons why the time is ripe for us to· multiply our prayers for,
· ramp up our engagement with, and
· increase our financial support for Lutheran campus ministry.
1. Because campus ministry is deep in our DNA as Lutherans—heirs of a renewal movement that began in a University nearly 500 years ago. “Martin Luther was the original campus pastor!”
2. Because campus ministry is already a precious asset for our ELCA (and a principle of asset-based thinking is that we take stock of assets already on the plus-side of our ledger-book—and we build on those assets). We have a wonderful history of engagement in campus ministry (tradition), talented boots on the ground (personnel), and an array of facilities (resources). We have skin in this game—and we’d be fools not to keep building on these assets.
3. Because campus ministry is one of the best ways our ELCA is trying to scratch the itch we’re all concerned about—what about our youth and young adults? How does an aging church claim and reclaim persons in the first third of life?
4. Because campus ministry is something Lutherans are temperamentally and theologically suited for. Ours is a grace-driven, missionally-imaginative, wonderfully welcoming approach to living the Christian life. Our confidence in God’s unconditional love and our predilection for relational evangelism allows us to meet young adults where they’re at, walk alongside them through all the ups and downs of young adulthood, learn from them, and equip them for life and service.
5. Because campus ministry recognizes that our Lutheran sense of “vocation” is a signal contribution we offer to American higher education---a world that’s already talking about something (vocation) that has been in our wheelhouse for nearly five centuries. Our campus pastors and others involved in campus ministry have the great good fortune to “be there” for young adults in one of the most formative times of their lives—when they’re seriously wrestling with the question: “What shall I do with my life?” We in campus ministry get to enrich that discernment process by reminding young adults that in the water of Baptism we all are ordained/set aside/sent for service to the neighbor in any and every walk of life. Young adults are ripe for rich vocation-oriented encounters and connections, and Lutheran campus ministry is aptly suited for such conversations.
6. Because Lutheran campus ministry has been, still is and will continue to be on the leading edge of our church….willing to go places not all congregations are ready to go….unencumbered by some of the negative baggage people associate with “the church”—offering safe, inviting opportunities to walk alongside young adults. Perhaps this is why campus ministry continues to produce a disproportionate number of future leaders for church and society (which is why we need to be careful when talking about the “campus ministry numbers game”).
7. Because campus ministry recognizes that young people today are best described not as secular—but as seeking--hungering for meaning and abundant life and God. Too often those of my generation and older view young people as a problem—“what’s wrong with them that they’re not involved in ‘our’ church?” Campus ministry is one of the arenas in which we move beyond such unhelpful approaches, because we realize that young adults are interested in God, curious about authentic spirituality, and open to meaningful service in God’s world. Campus ministry is wonderfully-gifted for addressing the desire of young adults to discover holistic ways of following God, e.g. not pitting telling the story of Jesus with walking in the way of Jesus, not regarding witness and work as separate or “opposed” realities.