RUF Loves College Students
But how do we love them well?
Tom Cannon | September 24, 2014
RUF loves college students.
Well, of course we do.
A better and more precise question is how we love them. Because the answer to that makes a difference in what we do and how we do it.
We love college students enough not to dismiss them or the world they live in.
This is not just an important time in a person’s life, it’s also an important place to be. We love college students and the environment they live in. The church should have a presence in the university world and RUF is the church going to the campus. We think it’s a great place to be. It’s a highly pluralistic culture where the winds of different world views blow. Instead of fleeing from it, we speak into it.
We believe that when the gospel of Jesus Christ is embraced it gives traction and meaning to everything a student does. Those who believe the gospel should continue to live and thrive in this world, not run from it.
We love college students enough not to flatter them or the world they live in.
Ministry to college students is no more or less important than to any other group. Really. It isn’t. It does represent a significant time for young men and women. And the college campus does provide a great “ministry window”. It’s a place where thousands are in the process of becoming adults. They are questioning and learning. They’re being stretched emotionally and intellectually. They form habits and attitudes which often last a lifetime. It’s a joy and privilege to be there with them to speak truth and serve well. But it’s also, in the vast configuration of things, a world which is limited, privileged and exclusive.
It’s not that we expect college students to apologize for the providential circumstances of their birth or the abilities they have. But we do make them face the question, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). All they have is given by God, and the gospel compels them to humbly repent, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to live as servants to God and each other.
We love college students enough not to ignore the “long view”.
Getting college students worked up is not especially difficult. Spend any amount of time on campus and you’ll find it’s a petri dish for various and sundry passions. From the pep rally to the fraternity party to political activism there is wide berth for big statements and strong feelings. There is no doubt that professing Christ should involve passion and commitment. But if not grounded in a faith that has substance to perservere, the language of passion and the outward motions of commitment mean, well, very little.
Our goal is to reach students with the gospel and equip them for a lifetime of service to Christ, his church and the world. The metric of our work on campus cannot be contained to the number of people we can pack in a room, go to a conference or even the amount of service they put in. Rather it is when students we work with continue in the faith and labor faithfully in their church and community. This kind of persevering faith is more often than not unspectacular and unassuming. But when it has fought the good fight and finished the race, there is nothing more glorious.
So that’s how we love students.