Recently I was sorting through files on my computer. I came across my notes from what I shared at our college ministry’s end-of-year celebration gathering back in 2012. In it, I shared four things I had learned in that year of ministry. With a full decade of life (including lots of babies—we’ve added four since then) and ministry (including lots of ministry changes and growth) under my belt since then, I can earnestly say these four things still hold true.
As you start gearing up for the fall semester, I challenge you to consider these four lessons in college ministry. Reflect on them, repent where needed, and reorient your heart and ministry before the semester begins.
Note: Other than minor grammatical edits, I’ve left the below four points in my 2012 voice. The conclusion is newly added.
God is Faithful. Period.
Even when we are weak, stressed, incompetent, and distracted, God is still faithful to accomplish His purposes. Everyone on our Ministry Team has faced hard things this year, personally and relationally, including Travis and I. Even in times when Travis and I have felt least effective and most weak as leaders, we have seen God continue His work building His kingdom. That’s the beauty of working with a team—when one is weak, another is there to encourage and pick up the slack. I don’t think we’re ever all on our ‘A’ game at the same time—which keeps us depending on God to hold us all together and remembering it’s His kingdom and His work!"Even when we are weak, stressed, incompetent, and distracted, God is still faithful to accomplish His purposes." -@BritneyLynHamm #collegiatedisciplemaker Four Things I’ve Learned in the Last Decade of College Ministry Click To Tweet
The Word of God is Sufficient
The Word of God has incredible power to speak for itself and transform lives. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been meeting weekly to read through John with a student who is very new to church and the Bible. I was so worried that I wouldn’t explain things well and that all the illustrations and historical references John makes wouldn’t make sense to her. From day one, I’ve been amazed by the way she quickly and easily grasps verses and concepts that I thought would be confusing and challenging. The only explanation is that God is fully capable of revealing Himself to people through His Word—He may choose to use me to help, but He sure doesn’t need me! I’ve seen this in so many other ways, too—students are being convicted, challenged, and transformed simply by reading a verse or reflecting on a passage of Scripture.
Praying Lives Lead to Passionate Hearts
Thanks largely in part to our intern, Chelsea, we’ve seen a renewed focus on prayer within this ministry. I’ve watched students grow more and more excited to pray and submit their lives, hopes, and requests to God. I’ve seen our Ministry Team pour out prayer requests and pray more boldly for one another and the campus. I’ve seen students using the Impact Facebook page to share needs, knowing they are safe and will be prayed for. As a result, I see increasing passion for God and mission in all of us. Our community has become stronger as a result.
Leaders Must Let Go
The heart of a leader who wants to see God’s kingdom built must be a trusting heart. The more the ministry expands, the more Travis and I have to choose to either hold tightly to every aspect of the ministry or to trust the students with responsibilities and leadership. Travis and I can’t disciple everyone. We can’t be at everything. We can’t know every student as well as we’d like to. We can’t lead everything. This year we’ve chosen to entrust more things to our student leaders: the discipleship of some students, prayer nights, planning of some events, to name a few things. It is humbling as we realize how little God needs us. It is exciting as we see students leading and living out the gospel so clearly. It is convicting as we confront our lack of trust in the One true leader of this ministry and our arrogance in thinking we’re something special. But it’s also encouraging as we see the reach of this ministry extending far beyond where the two of us holding tightly could ever reach.
Reflect, Repent, Reorient
College ministry leaders, as you prepare to launch fall ministry efforts on your campus, don’t forget that God is going to be faithful to work in and through your team no matter what. Don’t lose faith in the sufficiency of God and His Word to transform hearts and lives. Don’t forsake prayer thinking you don’t have time for it. And don’t cling too tightly to the ministry He’s given you. It belongs to Him, after all.
But do lean on His faithfulness. Do trust in His Word. Do pray like crazy. Do give ownership to your students. And do expect Him to work!