Campus Ministry’s ‘Advent’
It is no easy task to welcome 9,000+ students to campus in a matter of days each August. Rev. Julius Wardley, campus minister at Texas Southern University’s Wesley Foundation compares the Back-to-School season as the “Advent” of campus ministry. Julius says, “In much the same way that local churches prepare for the arrival of Jesus during the holiday season, our Wesley student leaders prepare each summer for the arrival of students -- to show them God’s presence and love as we help with move-in and Welcome Week.” Spiritual training initiatives teach student leaders to be others-focused. See leaders and students in action in this video:
Leadership development is one of the strengths of TSU’s campus ministry program, as evidenced by the number of leaders engaged in intensive training prior to the start of school. “Each August,” shares Julius, “our leaders prepare for the new semester by reconnecting with God and one another to form strong social bonds.” After training, he encourages the interns to facilitate a retreat, and other student trainings, to practice their new skills.
This year, trained leaders and new leaders are reading The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Julius adds, “A great deal of our time is spent discussing and practicing relationship building since that is crucial to the Christian journey.” Training also includes self-management and talking about the Wesley Foundation vision.
“We try to define what compassion and leadership looks like,” Julius shares, “as a leader, we can’t do alone. Our training helps students know how to pick a leadership team, mobilize, keep and empower them.”
As part of the campus “Advent” experience, Wesley Foundation leaders had planned an annual kickoff event including a concert headlined by the Source worship band from First UMC Houston. Their grand plans, however, were shut down when the city went into crisis mode with Hurricane Harvey.
A TSU Wesley Master Plan provides focus for the next leadership opportunities throughout semester. “We are serious about developing compassionate, community focused Christian leaders,” Julius adds. “We have planned weekly and monthly sessions to connect and study discipleship materials as well as practice them in support of a food bank, clothes closet, and interaction with many of Houston’s homeless.” No doubt, the students will also be helping with flood relief for months to come.
Students will also look forward to the fellowship opportunities such as the wing eating contest during Monday Night football, open microphone night and guys/girls nights out.