Thursday, March 17, 2016

Your Ministry of Presence

When I first started in College Ministry, there was a minister assigned to the campus where I served. He was paid jointly by a small church to serve as pastor and by his denomination to serve as a College Minister. He was widely known and liked on campus. He held no events or scheduled programs. You could often find him in the Student Center drinking coffee. He told me he practiced "a ministry of presence". To be totally honest, I was not impressed with a ministry of presence alone.

But, over the years I have come to have a somewhat different view. I could never be on a campus and just be there, if anybody needs me. That's not my personality or what I think is the most effective way to do College Ministry. However, I have come to believe in and see the value in how our presence can be important and God used.

Several, several years ago, I visited the Lunch Program at Mississippi State BSU to see how they did it. They were known as the best at doing it. And, I have always believed you can see and learn things in visiting something done with excellence that can't be learned otherwise. While students were coming in for Lunch, I saw an older man in a suit and tie enter. He was speaking to students as though he knew them and some of them came up and hugged him. I asked someone who it was.....was he the speaker that day? No they said; "He is the pastor at First Baptist Church and he comes every week.". His presence was an encouragement to the BSU staff and was obviously a positive to many of the students.

A couple of years ago I went back as Acting Director to the ministry I had led at Arkansas State. I was there for six months and there were no full time staffers as there normally had been. Yet, due to a high level functioning Student Leadership Team, things went reasonably well. But, it was crazy shorthanded on our Lunch Program days with a large crowd of students. Two of our local Church College Ministers would come each week. Sometimes, one would take up money and another would just greet and visit with students arriving, etc.

These things helped.....BUT, the thing that helped me the most was....their presence. I knew whatever needed doing, I wasn't the only one there. I was not alone. That was huge in my mind.

Where can your presence be an encouragement? Where could you just show up occasionally that would bless someone?
Where would your presence just remind someone they are not alone? I fear that in College Ministy sometimes it is easy for us to just isolate in our own thing. Any College Minister worth his or her salt has more to do than they can do.....BUT, sometimes you can just go be present for a few minutes. God may use it more than you realize.

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