Jul 09, 2018
More fruit. Less fatigue.
Pete Cocco writes about how the ways of Jesus can help college ministry leaders find more fruit and less fatigue.
I’ve been a campus minister for over 25 years and hold great love and empathy for those of you who share in this vocation. I have the utmost respect for what you do and the sacrifices you make. You are on the front lines, and are surely making a difference. Nonetheless, I know how the end of a school year often brings with it some raw emotions. Two things I often hear from the lips of campus pastors:
Was it worth it?
I’m so tired.
Well hear this: It is most definitely worth it and you will recover. Soon, you will be anxiously awaiting the next crop of freshman this fall and the cycle will start anew, but does the cycle have to be the same? Do we have to end each year questioning our tiresome efforts?
Throughout my tenure, I noticed the more I mimicked Jesus, the happier I was both with my ministry and with myself. What a revelation to discover Jesus not only provides wisdom, redemption, and sanctification, but he provides a methodology as well! Simply put, the more I practiced the methods of Jesus, the more fruit I saw and the less tired I felt. To be clear, the following is not another “how to” list intended to be prescriptive. This is a collection of the methodologies of Jesus designed to allow for creativity, and for the power of the gospel to work freely. I hope this helps.
Methodology #1 PRAY (Being before Doing)
You can’t share what you don’t have. It would be ridiculous to see a man dying of thirst and offer him a study about the necessity of water. Likewise, we can’t reduce our role in the kingdom of heaven down to information distribution. Prayer is a mystery and I do not fully understand it, but I’ve noticed that people of prayer often have something to share because they have received something by aligning themselves to the heart of God. They become a kind of conduit that allows the spirit to move to others.
Practical idea: Prayer walks. Practiced in twos it looks and feels natural as you pray out loud. Often walking leads us to see the bigger world and the unreached dorm, or allows you to bump into that divine appointment. Students often complain that it feels like their prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Maybe it’s because they are under a ceiling.
Methodology #2 ENGAGE (Chaos before Order)
There are two sides of church. The side that takes new ground and the side that nurtures and matures those within its walls — chaos and order. Both are necessary and vital to the church as a whole, but we need to understand that the church must engage with people in the chaos of our culture before we can expect those people to come to our orderly worship events. Jesus seems to do his best work in us when we are guests rather than hosts. Jesus, Peter, and Paul were all known for entering peoples homes. In addition, it was the marching orders Jesus gave as he commissioned his followers in Mathew 10 and Luke 10. At first glance, this method may feel like an energy sapper, but when we interact intentionally outside the church walls something kinetic happens. The spirit is present and our souls become refreshed and renewed.
Practical idea: Encourage your students to participate with other clubs and groups on campus.
Methodology #3 ASK (Self-discovery before Formal teaching)
In Scripture, Jesus asked 307 questions and he knew the answer to every one! We all know that we learn more through self-discovery. But did you know that we also obey more. Remember, helping our students find their obedience journey with God is the goal. At some point most of us in ministry lose sight of this and start to believe that understanding is the goal. This leaves us stressed and tired prepping academic lessons and searching for new information. What if instead, we were known for asking obedience questions directly from the Bible? Better yet, what if we trained our students to ask each other these questions?
Practical idea: Give your students bookmarks for their Bible with three questions they can always ask when reading the Bible. 1.) What did you learn about God? 2.) What did you learn about Man? 3.) What do you feel compelled to obey?
Methodology #4 INVEST (Time before Information)
There is no substitute for time. Leadership development is accomplished by intentionally pulling people close. Jesus pulled twelve close in Mark 3:13 “He called to him those he wanted, and they came to him that they might be with him….”
This kind of intentionality produces visible change. It’s the thing your students will feel the most, reminisce about the most, and emulate the most. This is where measurable fruit becomes evident.
Practical idea: Never do stuff alone. Bring students with you on church visits, car repairs and trips to Walmart.
Methodology #5 RELEASE (Authority before Assignment)
It is much messier to release authority than to release assignments. We have a tendency to release assignments while maintaining a system that has everything still run through us. No wonder we’re stressed and tired. Let me remind you that students are yearning to be trusted. Initially they will make mistakes but your goal is to release an army of doers, not collect a classroom of sitters. Jesus embraced the mess by releasing his authority to the twelve, the seventy-two, and then to us at the Great Commission.
Practical idea: Remind your students of their crucial role in the kingdom by holding a commissioning service for student leaders and graduating seniors.
It is my sincere prayer that in Jesus’ ways, you will find where productivity and peace coincide, and that it keeps you on campus for many years to come!
Pete leads Legacy on Campus, a new organization that seeks to help campus ministry leaders employ the ways of Jesus to see movements happen on college campuses and beyond.