For anyone interested in ministry on any secular college or university campus, The Word on Campus is essential reading. Kirk King and Ron Pickell, working in collaboration with other experienced campus ministers, have produced a valuable resource that has been a long time coming.
Ellen White urged the Adventist church to see public universities as a ripe mission field back in the 1890s— the same time period in which other denominations were starting their public campus ministries. Adventists were slow in following her counsel, but in countless places Adventist students have borne faithful witness. In some college towns, local Adventist churches have seen their mission as including a campus outreach. Some conferences, notably Michigan, Ontario, and, more recently, Georgia-Cumberland, have developed conference-wide strategies for campus outreach. A section of the book discusses these examples and more.
King and Pickell list three goals for an Adventist ministry on a college campus. First, be concerned for Adventist students—building and maintaining relationships with them so that they are retained as practicing church members. Second, evangelize the campus itself. Third, this outreach to the campus can’t be simply a matter of seeking new converts. We need to use our influence to attempt to make a difference on campus.
A section on “Essentials” gives guiding principles for ministry on campus. This part of the book includes reflection questions after each chapter, and could serve as the basis for small group discussions with students and/or with church leaders. The evangelization model suggested includes sharing the story of Jesus, inviting students to grow in Him, and encouraging them to reach out to their fellow students.
The next section features a practical guide for starting campus ministry while recognizing that all campuses are different, and each ministry will take on a unique shape.
Emphasis is placed on obtaining recognition as an official student group and building a relationship with the university.
Appendices include a sample constitution (necessary for recognition by the university), programming ideas, sample budgets, and a bibliography. A DVD is included with two short videos, “Where Are the Students?” (useful for showing to a congregation introducing this vision) and “Can You Walk the Walk?” (for students).
I think the most important counsel they give is to “just do it.” If you have a passion for students, don’t wait for a budget, a building, or a calendar full of programming. Start reaching out to students, especially if you can see a campus from the front door of your church, and students are already coming. Welcome them—and step out into their world with the good news. Help them take the Word to campus.