Summer on campus

Work continues in campus ministries, even when college students are home for the summer.

James D. Roecker

The summer months in Stevens Point are vastly different from the months when UW–Stevens Point is in session. That makes sense. Ministry to college students does not happen as much without college students around. Some students do stick around Stevens Point for the summer, but most head home. It happens every summer. It can be expected.

For a campus pastor, the beginning of summer brings a good deal of reflection. To help evaluate the prior year, I rely on the students. At our last Bible study of the school year, I hand out a sheet with three columns on it. The columns are: What you liked, What you did not like, and What could be better. The student comments come in handy for setting up goals and plans for the upcoming year of campus ministry. The collegians also suggest specific Bible studies throughout the academic year.

I do my best to implement elements of those suggestions into future Bible studies. Rather than decreeing what I think UW–Stevens Point campus ministry should be or should look like, I defer to our group of faithful collegian officers to make it what they want it to be. Although there may be different officers for each school year, they always seem to set an example for others in our group. A passage from 1 Timothy conveys this remarkably. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (4:12).

This past year Divine Word in Plover started another ministry location and student center in Stevens Point. The congregation called it The Word. A dedicated student space at The Word allowed WELS collegians to invite their friends to do laundry, study, or just hang out away from campus. Invitations extended to friends also led to our Thursday night Bible study group growing from an average of 15 students to an average of nearly 30! Future plans already are being discussed in the event our gracious God sees fit to double this group of students in the coming year.

This is not to say that challenges and obstacles are nonexistent. The devil still tempts, and our sinful nature does not simply disappear. The father of lies wants nothing more than for collegians—for all of us—to believe that we do not need God and his Word. Too often the devil succeeds and separates collegians from fellowship opportunities with other collegian believers. Our faith connection to Christ brought about by the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts can be weakened or even lost over time if that connection is not continually being strengthened through the Word.

Summer months allow me to prepare for the upcoming semester of campus ministry. Bible studies get planned and created. Letters are written to collegians and their parents. All of this is sent to every collegian’s home address we have on file. It is a reminder of the opportunities they have while attending UW–Stevens Point to continually feed on the Word, to continually strengthen their faith connection to Christ.

Students come and go until they graduate or transfer. Faces and names may change, but our God never does. The foundation of our faith, found in Christ, binds us together until we are reunited to learn and grow in him.


James Roecker, pastor at Divine Word, Plover, Wisconsin, does campus ministry work at UW–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, Wisconsin.


 

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Author: James D. Roecker
Volume 104, Number 7
Issue: July 2017

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