To say that campus times this summer have been interesting would be an understatement: talking about yourself in third person, playing Heads Up in an ice cream shop, broken picnic tables, and apple bobbing... among many other things. Things can get silly. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t take campus time seriously. Because we do. It’s a critical part of building the bridge between STP and life at college.
What is it?
Campus time is fairly self-explanatory: we break up into our separate college campuses to spend time getting to know people we’re going to see and interact with long after STP ends, as well as to pray and cast a vision for what ministry could look like in the upcoming year. Each campus time has its own unique flavor depending on the staff and team leaders leading it, as well as the number of students from each school (the sizes range from 9 staff and students from St. Cloud State University to over 50 from the University of Northwestern St. Paul).
Why does it matter?
Although one hour a week feels like a very short amount of time to accomplish all of that, every student I’ve talked to has affirmed that campus time is one of their favorite times for those reasons. They feel that it helps develop a deeper sense of community with people from your own college campus that you may not have otherwise met in everyday life. A lot of students coming to STP for the first time only know a few others from their school, so campus time is the perfect facilitator for lasting relationships beyond the summer.
It’s also an ideal time to set the tone for going back to school in the fall. Even though we still have five weeks left of STP, we want to begin to think and pray for how we can be intentional ministers of the Gospel from our first day back on campus to the last day of finals week. For example, in my campus time (U of M) we have been talking about ways that we can begin to meet incoming freshmen during move-in day in August. Each campus represents a unique mission field among college students though.
- The U of M, as a Big 10 school, is an enormous, very secular and liberal environment. People are searching to figure out who they are and what they believe. We are also home to several thousand international students, which provides so many open doors for the gospel.
- At St. Thomas, a lot of students are partiers who party hard Thursday through Saturday and go to church on Sundays. As a Catholic school, it presents unique ministry opportunities none of the other COM schools have.
- At Northwestern, the challenge is entirely different: most students grow up in Christian homes and resort to putting on faces: they know the words to say but don’t believe it in their hearts.
- Bethel is similar, a lot of students struggle with self-righteousness and believing that they don’t need God and have it all together.
- St. Cloud State University is more similar to the U but is one of the biggest party schools in the state. The culture is basically a complete rejection of the Gospel by students who have have bad experiences with Christianity.
It gets me excited to think about using the ways that I have grown here in SC this summer to spread the message of the Gospel at the U this fall, and I love that we can all share a little bit of our hearts for ministry with one another now so we can hold each other accountable when it gets hard.
There’s nothing quite like worshipping, praying and laughing with a group of like-minded believers that you get to spend the next few years ministering and growing alongside.
It’s one of the most beautiful things about STP.