See The Campus
By Chuck Klein | The Campus Alliance | San Diego, California | everycampus.org
When the calendar hits September and you want to locate over 90% of the teenagers in your community, it’s easy to find them. Just check out the local high school and middle school campuses. For this simple reason alone, the campus is vital in every youth ministry plan.
I think Paul the apostle describes campus ministry very well in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8: “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become dear to us.” (NIV)
Through school ministry we…
- represent Christ and His awesome message of freedom
- deeply care about students, teachers and administration
- are delighted to share the gospel of God
- impart our lives – which means relational and sacrificial ministry
- are not a burden to the school or students, but a help
Like any ministry, with the campus we have to adapt to the setting. Let’s start there.
First, the campus is “the cultural center” for youth in your community. It is a tapestry of students involved in groups and relationships. It is a fun and vital place for you to connect with kids. So get to know the school culture.
Second, a school is administratively controlled which means that there are guidelines and rules for students, and certainly visitors from the outside. Some administrators allow and welcome the faith-based community to participate in the environment of a school, with limitations. They see it as a positive influence that helps students.
Other administrators are leery, usually citing lack of legal clarity. In reality, it comes down to each administration or school district deciding how they will handle outside visitors to their school. There are neither specific laws nor legal precedents to guide schools, other than the fact that visitors must have permission to enter a campus. However, administrators must treat religious groups or individuals in the same manner that they treat secular groups or individuals. They clearly are the gatekeepers for outsiders, but must remain blind to religion based on the first amendment and equal access guidelines.
So how does this affect campus ministry?
- Clarify in your mind your motive for campus ministry. What you bring to the campus is a living example of Christ – love, hope and genuine interest in kids. That attitude will help you focus on students and serve the school.
- Build relationships with administrators, respect them and follow their guidelines and policies. (Romans 13:1-3).
Chuck Klein gives leadership to the Campus Alliance and everyschool.com, a coalition of over 50 organizations and church denominations partnering to reach out to every high school and middle school student in America with the good news of Jesus Christ. You can read the rest of his article here.