Working for two campus-related ministries and being the mom of a college student, I read a lot of research, hear a lot of reports and am all too aware of how precariously close we are to having the voice of truth, reason and Christianity silenced on campus. It’s time for the body of Christ to speak up. The college campus is key in how the Christian worldview will be heard in the marketplace. And it will take all of us–from campus ministries, to churches and parachurch ministries, to parents and grandparents—to amplify that voice. It’s time for clarity, empowerment and resonance.
PROJECTING WITH A CLEAR VOICE—APOLOGETICS PARTNERSHIPS.
You’re probably familiar with the research. (If not, click here.) But the odds aren’t good for our Christian college students to graduate with their faith intact. One glaring reason is intellectual skepticism about their faith fueled by the failure of parents and churches to train them in knowing what they believe, why they believe it and how to defend it–commonly referred to as apologetics. How can we expect students to reach their campus for Christ and change the culture if they can’t confidently articulate their own convictions?
Whether a student has lost his voice due to skepticism, fear, confusion, or insecurity, there is a way to help. Give students “voice lessons” by partnering with a ministry who exists to serve other campus ministries. Ratio Christi is a student apologetics alliance that teaches how to defend truth and Christianity at the university. RC is seeing a clearer, more winsome voice for Christianity emerge through students who gain confidence and conviction in the reasons for their faith, who are engaging the culture on campus–both fellow students and professors.
We are seeing seekers, atheists, and agnostics visit our meetings and gain a better understanding of Christianity and its valid place in the marketplace of ideas. We are seeing conversions among students. And as the ministry approaches its fourth year, we are seeing graduates who are moving into the marketplace ready to be change agents in the spheres of influence God grants them. Encourage students to explore apologetics, partner with the RC chapter on your campus or, as other campus clubs have done—even atheistic ones–help get one started. Ratio Christi can help students cultivate a commanding voice for Christ, equipping them in conversational, relational, Christian case making.
Campus ministries working together can increase the clarity of the Christian message on campus and cut through the clutter of deceptive philosophies. Campus ministries can voice support for this by partnering–not competing–with one another on campus. Each part of the body of Christ has a role to play, and we function better when we work together.
Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and former president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, pointed out the important role of apologetics today when he said, “I fervently believe apologetics is the way we will spell Christian evangelism, missions, and discipleship in the 21st century.”
PROCLAIMING WITH AN EMPOWERED VOICE—KNOWING AND DEFENDING OUR RIGHTS.
This is no time for wimpy Christianity. As the voice for religious liberties on campus gets weaker, each day, ministries and students need to be aware of their rights and stand up for them. And no one needs to go solo: there are ministries in place to aid with this. For instance, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s “Speak Up” movement has excellent tools and resources specifically for the public university. According to Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel for ADF, many campus groups are adverse to conflict and will not fight when attacked.
ADF offers a “students’ rights” primer which, among other things, outlines the right to limit leadership and membership in Christian clubs on campus. According to Tedesco, one of the greatest threats to Christians on campus is speech codes–65 percent of current policies violate rights. ADF has successfully challenged unconstitutional speech codes and speech zones on campuses. Furthermore, student activities fees must be distributed on a neutral basis; university facilities must give same access. Christian student organizations must know their rights and exercise them: these include freedom of speech, association, equal access, equality of opportunity and exercising of religious beliefs.
This is not a time to whimper; we must roar when needed. “The university campus holds such a pivotal position in our world; it has become a battleground of immense proportions. Satan knows its strategic importance. The Church must not surrender this territory over to the enemy.” -Mike Armstrong, Christ on Campus, University of Arkansas.
PRAYING WITH A RESONANT VOICE—ONE ACCORD, CORPORATE PRAYER.
Let us not forget the absolute necessity of undergirding all we do on campus in prayer. First, are we campus ministry leaders praying strategically for our campus? We need to cry out in one accord with voices united to our Heavenly Father for Christian campus workers, students, faculty and staff. And we need to pray for those who don’t believe as we do to be unchained from the false and deceptive philosophies which shackle them. As Os Hillman says in his book “Change Agent” (writing on how we influence the seven cultural mountains, of which education is one), “We fight the spiritual battle on behalf of those who would never make it without our intercession.” He admonishes us to be praying for the marketplace we are called to serve and to ask God to help us learn to be intercessors for those we are called to redeem–that includes the unsaved on campus.
Second, are we encouraging the body of Christ to pray for this highly influential cultural mountain of education? For 30 years, the Moms in Prayer International ministry has gathered moms to pray for kids and schools–including colleges. As the College Groups Facilitator, I encourage and equip the moms praying for colleges to pray intentionally and strategically against the strongholds on campus. Encourage students to have their moms start or join a college MIP group. Let students’ parents, particularly moms, know the prayer needs of your ministry, your students and your campus.
Make intercession for your campus a strategic part of your campus ministry meetings. Partner with local churches to participate in the annual Collegiate Day of Prayer every fourth Thursday of February. This is a way to bring before the church at large the prayer needs of the campus. If we are going to reclaim the cultural mountain of education, intercession must be a strategic part of our focus to impact that mountain. “Interceding for those who control the mountain is important if you expect to gain victory,” Os Hillman says.
The most prolific author on campus spiritual awakenings, Dr. J. Edwin Orr, has said, “Every spiritual awakening has been spread by university students.” And he also adds that every great awakening has been preceded by prayer.
Evangelist and author Rice Broocks says, “The campus has more influence on the direction, morality, and overall fabric of society than any institution on earth. Will the campus be a starting point in a spiritual awakening that will shake the earth? The answer is a resounding yes.” And I would add, if that is to be true, the resounding reason will be that campus ministries, churches, and parents come together with one voice and turn up the volume by speaking with clarity, empowerment and resonance. Can you hear it?
About the Author: Julie Loos is the Director of Ratio Christi Boosters, the community outreach arm of the campus apologetics ministry. She also serves as the College Groups Facilitator for Moms in Prayer International encouraging moms who pray for college kids and campuses to pray intentionally and strategically. She has a heart for the campus as that was where her faith was solidified and she has one son in college and one on the way next year. She lives in the St. Louis area and enjoys coffee, chocolate and working out.