One of things I want to constantly remind the people of Threshingfloor is that God has sovereignly placed them where they are at in this moment for a specific purpose. As Paul says in Acts 17 to the Athenians, God has chosen our times and put boundaries on our dwelling places so that men might seek God. Here’s seven ways for those of you who God has placed on college campuses to live in a way that causes people to seek Jesus.
Be early to class
We all have full schedules and, yes, getting up in the morning isn’t thrilling – but if we are truly native missionaries that God has commissioned to spread the gospel on our campuses then it’s our job to sacrifice for the sake of saving others. Get up ten minutes earlier than you usually do. Make it to class with enough time to talk to the people you’re sitting near. Be friendly. Initiate conversation. Your job isn’t to sneak in a gospel presentation before the professor begins; it’s to love those that Jesus has surrounded you with.
I love music. I love podcasts. The fact that I can grow in the knowledge of Christ while I walk from my apartment to class is a privilege. However, in the last couple months I’ve been convicted of how much of my time I spend with headphones in when I’m on campus. By doing this I’ve cut off potential of interacting with the people who I’m walking past as I go from class to class.
We can’t let our learning about Jesus keep us from doing what he has commanded us to do. Challenge yourself and spend an hour a day unplugged when you’re on campus. Take out the headphones and put the phone away. Make eye contact with the people you’re passing. Smile, say hey. Jesus’ life is basically a series of “by the wayside” encounters with people who he met while walking around Galilee and the surrounding countryside. Who knows what God has planned for you today? Unplug for a bit and listen to the Spirit’s leading.
Hang out on campus
Some of the most effective ministry I’ve experienced took place when I was living on campus my first year here in Fargo. I had great conversations with the guys who lived on my floor during the times we hung out, ate at the dining center together, threw the frisbee around, and did whatever else struck our fancy. I can’t count the interesting discussions I had when people would come to talk to me as I sat under a tree in the campus mall reading my Bible. (They always assumed I was reading for class. Boy did I surprise them!)
In my opinion there’s a huge argument for living on campus just for the sake of spreading the gospel, but that’s not where God wants all of us. For those who live away from campus like I do now, carve out some time to simply chill around the space where God has put you. Get a partial meal plan and eat in the dining center occasionally. Do your homework at the school in hopes of getting interrupted. Take part in campus events. Make some friends and watch and pray for the chance to demonstrate and speak the truth.
Don’t downplay your Christianity when it comes up. We need to heed the warning that Jesus gives when he says that if we’re ashamed of him in front of other people he’s going to be ashamed of us when we come before the Father. Not good news for those of us who try to keep our Christianity secret.
Instead of downplaying Jesus, be explicit about things. When someone asks you what you’re doing over the weekend, tell them how you’re stoked to go to church and worship the God you love. When you’re asked your plans for the night, tell them about how Jesus is blowing your mind with his Word and the friends you’re digging into it with. If someone catches you reading your Bible don’t avoid the subject. Tell them about what you’re reading and why it matters to you. If you’re not passionate about it why would they want to believe it?
Pray for your campus
Most of the missional to-do lists I’ve read are made solely up of things that we should do out in the public sphere and seem to avoid the stuff traditionally considered “spiritual,” such as prayer, reading the Word, and the like. I would argue that this is a dangerous (but well unintentional) omission. In my opinion prayer is the most missional thing you can do for your campus. Get down on your knees, by yourself or better yet with a few friends, and plead with the Lord for the souls of those on your campus. I don’t care how friendly you are, unless the Holy Spirit moves no one is coming to salvation.
If we really believe that our God is sovereign and that he has commanded and empowered us to make disciples then we need to walk in a way that makes that possible. Above all, our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Tweak your life so that people see your passion for your savior. As we prayerfully, dependently go through our days God will do amazing things.