President’s Think Tank on Campus Ministry & 2013 National Campus Ministry Conference Plans

Pastor Marcus Zill posted this on facebook on January 7th. There have been several comments on BJS asking “what happened at the think tank”, and Pastor Zill posted a link to this facebook posting.

For those who aren’t friends of Pastor Zill on facebook, or for those who missed this posting, we though it appropriate to re-post it here.


Dear everyone,

The President’s Think Tank on Campus Ministry took place this past week (3-4 January) and was a fantastic event. It provided a tremendous opportunity for reflection on campus ministry.  It gave all assembled a great chance to focus on why we do campus ministry, discuss how we can do it better, and most especially, dream of how it can perhaps take place in a bigger, bolder, and more united way through the Office of National Mission.

I do not want to say too much because there will be a Reporter article forthcoming about the Think Tank and perhaps Rev. Bart Day (Executive Director, Office of National Mission) will be issuing his own blog post as a follow up.

Having said that, I believe that this was a tremendous opportunity for a representative group of campus workers and others with an invested interest in campus ministry to give input to President Harrison, Rev. Day and others as they consider the place and scope of campus ministry within the Office of National Mission.  Even the new Chief Mission Officer of the Synod, Rev. Gregory Williamson, participated for a full morning in the Think Tank on what was his first morning at his new job.

The mere fact that such a Think Tank even took place signals the personal investment and interest that these men are taking in the future of what those of us who work with college students hold so dear. I can not commend, and thank them, enough!

But campus ministry is more than just about the campus ministries themselves!

  • It’s about concerned parents and families who send their young ones away to college who pray that they will remain in the faith and not lose it.
  • It’s about congregations more intentionally preparing their high school age youth for the transition and jolt they will experience at college.
  • It’s about engaging young people and training them to be future leaders as they live out their God-given vocations.
  • It’s about boldly proclaiming the truths of the Gospel in an academic square that is increasingly hostile to a Biblical worldview.
  • And it’s about strengthening and supporting the work of witnessing to the international students that God has brought to our shores.

In short, because everyone has an interest in the future of the church, the entire Synod should have an interest in what takes place on the colleges of our land and with her young people.  It is time for the “whole church” to be engaged together!

What took place this past week has given us in campus ministry hope, dear brothers and sisters, that campus ministry may no longer need to languish apart from the Synod’s direct involvement, or be somehow peripheral to it, but may precisely take place through it once again with its full weight, blessing, and resources. Thanks be to God!

Following the Think Tank, the steering committee for a 2013 National Campus Ministry Conference through the Office of National Mission worked diligently (4-5 January) to make decisions and map out a plan for putting on what I believe will be the best campus ministry conference that this Synod has ever seen! And frankly, I think that is an incredible understatement.

I have played a part in planning many conferences over the years, and I can honestly say that I have never been more thrilled to participate in such a process especially given the unique and prescient moment that we have to chart a new course for campus ministry within the new structure of the Office of National Mission.  It is a privilege of a lifetime.

I’m thrilled to chair a committee made up of such wonderful and dedicated individuals:  Deaconess Shaina Mitchell, Rev. Max Mons, Rev. Jay Winters, Deacon Andy Bates and Phillip Fischaber. We can’t wait to unveil the plans which we are trying to finalize as soon as possible. God-willing we will be unable to communicate the basic conference information to the church by early February.

Thank you for your prayers for all those who participated in the Think Tank.  Please continue to pray for all of them as well as those groups that they represent.  Please also pray for the work of this conference committee. We have a tall order. We not only need to put on a killer conference but we also need to do so in a way that will hopefully unite and bring together students and workers from across many and varied campus constituencies.  We believe we can do just that with God’s help and the commitment of everyone to support it, including all of you.

There has never been a more exciting time to serve in campus ministry!  All of us who labor in campus ministry have always known the vital importance of what we are about, but I can not tell you how affirming it is to see that recognized and encouraged directly by the Synod.  I am incredibly thankful to God to all who passionately labor in campus ministry and international student ministry, as well as those who support all that we do, including President Harrison and Rev. Day.

May God be with all those who labor in campus ministry as they begin new semesters and continue to work with, minister to, and care for, Christ’s precious lambs on the colleges they serve, and may God  grant us a bold witness going forward on our college campuses for the sake of the Gospel!

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