Campus Ministries

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ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
Am I far off here or is there a serious need for reforming how the American church does campus ministry?

A friend of mine is a campus ministry staff worker and I can't help but think, under whose authority? Where is the oversight and how do these "extra-church" ministries fit into the New Testament church?

This friend is upset because another Christian group was started on campus by a pastor of a church who wanted to create a fellowship on campus for the students from his church that attend the school.

I told my friend that this is how campus ministry should look: connected to the local church, under the authority of a plurality of male elders. These men will have to give an account for the sheep in their fold. A campus worker with a parachurch organization has no such weighty responsibility.

What are your thoughts and how does your church (if at all) view campus ministry? How do you think the American church could reform its work in such a great mission field (if indeed it needs reforming)?

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Ephrata

Puritan Board Freshman
As one of said sheep currently in a campus ministry, I agree that a church-based accountability system would be ideal. That being said, there isn't always a solid church nearby, or a solid one with the resources to fund representatives for a campus ministry. From the few ministries that are on-campus, the question seems to be mostly logistics-based. My current ministry does not associate with any one church, but they are quick to connect students with the best churches in the area.
 

Ephrata

Puritan Board Freshman
(Then again, considering that I'm just a student and not a church administrator, my wisdom on that matter is admittedly sparse.)
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
As one of said sheep currently in a campus ministry, I agree that a church-based accountability system would be ideal. That being said, there isn't always a solid church nearby, or a solid one with the resources to fund representatives for a campus ministry. From the few ministries that are on-campus, the question seems to be mostly logistics-based.

The first step would be to plant a church in the community, then call a campus minister when the Church is going.
 

Hamalas

whippersnapper
If you haven't already, check out the PCA's ministry: Reformed University Fellowship (or RUF). It's not perfect, but they have a lot of things right in terms of the role and centrality of the local church and all their campus leaders are ordained ministers connected with a local church as well.
 

ralphmnj

Puritan Board Freshman
If you haven't already, check out the PCA's ministry: Reformed University Fellowship (or RUF). It's not perfect, but they have a lot of things right in terms of the role and centrality of the local church and all their campus leaders are ordained ministers connected with a local church as well.

That's good to hear.

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kodos

Puritan Board Junior
I support a local RUF minister here in Denton, TX. What a wonderful ministry of the PCA that is held accountable by the church and is actually carried out by ordained ministers. I am so grateful that the PCA has invested so heavily in this ministry.
 

Michael K

Puritan Board Freshman
As a college student of old, I checked out many different ministry opportunities. RUF was a great group at Auburn University. But I found that a local church was the best place to grow and be challenged by God's Word.

Para-church / campus ministry organizations will always face this tenuous balance between reaching students and encouraging them to find a church while attending school.


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Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
I appreciate the Presbyterian Church in America's (PCA's) Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) format, having only examined, accountable teaching elders as heads.

This also tends to create a network with local churches in that Presbytery.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
That being said, there isn't always a solid church nearby

The student has a responsibility to attend a school where there is a solid church nearby, just as a husband/father has the responsibility to seek a place of work where there is a solid church for his family. No campus ministry is a substitute for The Church.

I can't say this enough.

Of course, I am not picking on you, Tori. I have been in such a situation before and in my earlier years lacked the insight and information with which to make such an application of priorities. Sometimes a student becomes conscientious of these matters a few years into their studies and realizes they are in a less-than-ideal situation.

Students, please, seek and choose a solid local congregation before you enroll.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
The student has a responsibility to attend a school where there is a solid church nearby, just as a husband/father has the responsibility to seek a place of work where there is a solid church for his family.

Tim, I agree people have the responsibility to attend a good, Reformed church (where possible), but they also have the responsibility to work and to put food on the table (assuming that they are fit and able to do so).

So ...

What if the only available place of study/employment is in a location where there are no solid churches nearby?
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
What if the only available place of study/employment is in a location where there are no solid churches nearby?

I would like to examine how your have phrased your question because putting food on the table may be accomplished many ways. I don't think it is the case that there are literally no jobs or schools in the same town as a solid church. There are jobs and schools, just not the ones that a person may desire.

So, I think you are rather asking what should happen when someone desires some specialty work or education that is only available in certain locations. He then finds that the ideal training and labor is in a different location than the ideal church. What then? My answer is that we start with my statement of priority, and then work from there with an application of wisdom and a multitude of counselors.

As an academic, I happen to be in a "specialty career" because it requires a university that offers a program in my field. I also would only desire to attend a minority of churches (Psalm-singing is the limiter in my case). There are only so many locations where these two considerations intersect. I very much understand the dilemma.
 

whirlingmerc

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sometimes you see a church plant with a team of two people near a campus. One is a church pastor and one is a campus worker. That probably has some strength and stability

Parachurch groups cover a wide spectrum. At university of Illinois the center off mass of the groups tended to be one church, Twin City Bible Church, so there was high cooperation but I don't think most students were even church members
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I would like to examine how your have phrased your question because putting food on the table may be accomplished many ways. I don't think it is the case that there are literally no jobs or schools in the same town as a solid church. There are jobs and schools, just not the ones that a person may desire.

There may be plenty of jobs, but none which they are qualified to do. I think your argument, though basically sound in general situations, needs to be more nuanced.


So, I think you are rather asking what should happen when someone desires some specialty work or education that is only available in certain locations. He then finds that the ideal training and labor is in a different location than the ideal church.

Let's frame the question slightly differently: A member of a psalm-singing church has been unemployed for 2 years, yet despite endlessly applying for jobs close to the church he cannot obtain employment in this locality. He then gets offered a job in a city where the only good church is a solidly confessional OPC church, but the OPC church is not exclusive psalmody. What should he do? I say it is his duty to work, and thus he should accept the job and attend the OPC church for the time being until such a time as a psalm-singing church is planted nearby. Is the situation "ideal"? No, but what in this life ever is?
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
There may be plenty of jobs, but none which they are qualified to do. I think your argument, though basically sound in general situations, needs to be more nuanced.

A fair comment. I am happy for you and others to suggest refinements to my argument.

Let's frame the question slightly differently: A member of a psalm-singing church has been unemployed for 2 years, yet despite endlessly applying for jobs close to the church he cannot obtain employment in this locality. He then gets offered a job in a city where the only good church is a solidly confessional OPC church, but the OPC church is not exclusive psalmody. What should he do? I say it is his duty to work, and thus he should accept the job and attend the OPC church for the time being until such a time as a psalm-singing church is planted nearby. Is the situation "ideal"? No, but what in this life ever is?

That sounds sensible. My statement of principle wasn't intended to be blind to the real challenges faced by Reformed Christians in the 21st century. My main point was to encourage folks to begin with the seeking of a solid church and then work from there with diligence. The scenario you describe seems to indicate just that.
 
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