Campus Ministers Best Practices Retreat

Date Posted: 3/5/2015

The votes are in and it seems the annual retreat for campus ministers was a valuable experience for all who attended. Here are a few shared thoughts:
“Our February retreat was very informational. For me, it was most helpful to remember that God is at work in the lives of our college students no matter where they are spiritually. It is our job in campus ministry to keep pointing them toward Christ. Campus ministers need to build trust with students and challenge them continually to go deeper in the faith.” Sunny Farley
Campus Minister, Tyler Junior College and University of Texas-Tyler
“The question of what would I do if I had only one hour a week with a student? is critical when planning how we address the spiritual formation of college students.
Our guest speaker talked about how to tap into the “longings” of students before we attempt to engage in spiritual formation.  In other words, you have to know who they are and from where they are coming to address their particular issues.”
Tom Teekel, College Pastor, SFA
“The conference gave campus ministers, interns, and student leaders the opportunity to discuss issues directly related to their ministry focus. Dr. Kiesling affirmed and encouraged our efforts to adapt to the changing culture of emerging adults on our campuses.”
Max Mertz, Texas A&M Wesley Foundation
“The Best Practice Conference was an awesome opportunity to reconnect with the other college pastors in the TX Annual Conference. I love to hear how God is moving on other campuses and how college pastors are engaging college students. Dr. Chris Keisling reminded me of how intentional we must be with our discipleship efforts and strategies so that we can help young adults grow into the men and women God is calling them to be. “ 
Julius Wardley, Director, TSU Wesley Foundation

"In this year’s best practices retreat we explored how the past one hundred years have brought dramatic changes to the way young people in North America think about and experience the journey to adulthood. Many students spend more years in education, wait longer to get married, move back home even after completing a graduate degree, and/or explore cohabitation when romantically engaged. For a variety of personal, social, ecclesiastical and theological reasons, the majority of young adults disengage from communities of faith during these years. Research tells us that on many measures this stage of life represents the least religious stage in the life course. This is especially concerning to many pastors, parents and campus ministers who recognize that all the gateway commitments to adulthood are potentially being shaped during these years devoid of the resources of Christian faith.  Even more alarming, many denominations are responding by withdrawing funds historically committed to supporting campus ministers who can come alongside students and nurture in them God-shaped dreams.

Drawing from David Setran and Chris Kiesling’s book, Spiritual Formation in Emerging Adulthood, this retreat explored how societal changes have impacted the social visions young adults hold about identity, vocation, sexuality, church, and morality. We then turned to Scripture and early church practices to craft ways of moving young adults beyond self-absorbing pathways toward greater dimensions of spiritual formation and missional engagements." 
Katy Ware, Pastor, FUMC Hempstead and Lynn Grove UMC