The 5 Big Issues in Campus Ministry | Innovation

July 18, 2009 — Leave a comment

This series of blog posts is in response to Steve Lutz’s series on “The 5 Big Issues in Campus Ministry Today”. and his specific thoughts on MissiologyTheological Foundations, Ecclesiology, Innovation, and Sustainability.

My thoughts are here: Missiology 1, Missiology 2, Missiology 3, and Theological Foundations.

Two Examples of Innovation

In my experience, student driven innovation has been absolutely essential to pioneering ministry on campus, and we’ve seen some really amazing things happen as a result.  For example, our St. John’s Day Camp was initiated and executed completely by Jackie Markovich, who subsequently became one of our interns:

Jackie had a vision, and through coaching and resourcing, she has created an enduring ministry presence of UT students in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Austin.  Truly amazing work!

The missional community network at UT that is developing, Renovate UT, is certainly a noteworthy innovation in college ministry, and has resulted in united training for our ministries and a very unique cooperation.  The idea of empowering students to make disciples and baptize them as they come to Christ has already seen abundant fruit…see below for an example:

Through missional communities campus wide at UT, we saw over 100 students come to faith in Christ, and this was primarily driven through students incarnational evangelism!

As we have been tracking the united campus effort, the University of Texas has gone from a place where 6% of students were actively following Christ 5 years ago, to 11% last year.  That’s nearly doubling over the span of 5 years!  God is certainly at work!

The Next Big Idea

One of the next innovations we are looking to make is creating a new mechanism for mobilizing students to the nations, as well as tapping into the social consciousness of many students at UT.  We have a number of entrepreneurial students with excellent ideas for gospel-driven social entrepreneurship, and a great desire to make them work.  We began to ask the question, what if the church were the place where great social innovation was driven?  What if the church were the organization who took great risks on new ideas?

For most students, they lack two things to implement their great ideas: access to startup capital and a network of professionals to help refine and sustain their vision.  We rapidly realized that our local church contained both of those resources, and therefore was an excellent launch pad for great innovation.  We are excited to begin leveraging some of our missions funding in a “venture capital” form, rather than only contributing to traditional organizations, with the added benefit of mobilizing college students and creating a culture of innovation.

Lastly, it provides us the opportunity to speak the language of our campus, which is heavily driven by social action.  We hope that this opportunity gives us a voice to speak the truth that that Gospel is the only worldview that makes sense of social action, which is desperately needed in our context.

Concluding Thoughts

Bottom line, the students of our campuses desire to do great things, and are simply waiting to be asked.  We hope to create a culture of students who don’t “wait their turn” to do great things, but are radically obeying Christ and taking on huge challenges while they are still in school.

Empowering innovation takes challenging students, and then providing the resources to back them up when the pursue great things.  I pray we see a resurgence of innovation in ministry on campuses all over the globe, and that the cause of Christ advances through their radical obedience!

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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