Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Be CAREFUL on Campus!

This is not a safety reminder about parking in lighted areas or be careful when leaving the library late at night like the notices you see around campus. This is about maintaining whatever rights you and other religious groups have on campus. Don't take them for granted or don't think they can't disappear instantly.

Many years ago when I started in College Ministry, we were allowed to do "dorm visitation". We could go see students who had visited our ministry. We could go find students whose names had been given to us. On a neighboring campus that also allowed this practice, a campus group was accused of harassing students in the dorm (in fairness, they denied it.). The response of the administration was to bar all Campus Ministers from the dorms.

The campus where I served most recently had a rule against placing flyers on car windshields. It was a littering issue. An area church came on campus and put flyers on all the cars....after all, what could the school do to them...and they were being a "bold witness". I shivered....I knew there were lots of things the school could do that would affect us.

You've been living under a rock if you aren't aware that many campuses are greatly limiting the freedom of Christian campus ministries. Be aware of rules. Keep the rules. Interact with campus officials in a professional and respectful way. Help them see and know you as a professional who benefits their campus and students. Remember, fairly or not, many college administrators lump all religious groups together. When you interact with the administration and rules in the right way, you benefit all ministries on campus. When you behave irresponsibly, you harm all Ministires on campus.

It was hinted to me at one point that I was "liberal" because I was treading carefully in what we would and would not do on campus. Is breaking the rules one time worth forfeiting your right to be on campus? Are you playing fast and loose with everyone's ministry....not just yours? Your ministry is not about one event or one semester. A ministry that honors the Lord is in it for the long term. My friend, Johnny Pons, said he went to Penn State to die there. Serve and minister with the idea that you are going to be there for years and God will use you in many lives over time....not just a flash in the pan ministry that shows it's great disregard for a long term ministry.

One final suggestion: Deal with the administration in such a way that if one ministry goes "off the reservation" in their behavior, they will hopefully realize it's not representative of your ministry.

-Know the rules.

-Keep the rules.

-Deal with the administration as a professional.

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