Missouri State University will be kicking off Fall classes this week and students are moving in. It’s a college campus of 20,000 plus students that is located across the street from our church building. It’s a wonderful situation to be in and our people are exciting about welcoming the college crowd back to Springfield and hopefully to our church.
This time every year our church has the MSU Pride Band to a worship service. That Sunday is the 24th and we’re expecting 260+ members of the band to be here and stay after the service for lunch. It’s quite an undertaking to pull this off but our church looks forward to this event and it should be fun. It’s also exciting to see the sanctuary filled to almost capacity.
I’m so glad to be in a “town and gown” city, where the opportunity exists to influence students for Christ during a pivotal period in their lives. It’s also nice to be in a church that recognizes the value of student ministry and isn’t stingy about impacting lives for all eternity. Typically, college students don’t bring a lot of money into the church but what they do offer is a great deal of energy and excitement, two qualities that any church would do well to have more of. Sometimes churches are hesitant to commit to student ministry for the reason I mentioned above, because there isn’t always an immediate return on their investment. For this reason it’s important to look at the larger picture and remember that we are in a mission field of immense possibility.
I remember my college years and realize now how valuable they were to me. I recall concerned adults and church staff people who cared about students and in particular were of encouragement to me. Some of them took me to lunch and had me over to their house, just to hang out for a while. That meant so much to me, the social component of college life is very important. There aren’t any immediate success stories oftentimes in college ministry, as this kind of work is extremely challenging. Getting college students to show up anywhere can be difficult, but if you feed them it helps! So, while we are feeding the band chips and sandwiches this Sunday morning I’ll be thinking of ways we can feed them spiritually in the days ahead.
I’m looking forward to seeing familiar students back in their places this Fall, and hopefully their tribe will increase. Our church will look for ways to not only reach out to them but also ways for them to participate in worship and growing in their walk with the Lord. Spiritual formation is important at all times, but especially so in college. To that end, may we be loving to the hungry students who come to us and at the same time find ways to get to them.