Send Network Blog
The College Campus: A Plentiful Harvest
If Jesus were walking the earth today, what would He say about college campuses in North America?
We can imagine His heart would grieve the deceitfulness of sin that occupies the hearts and minds of students. He would know many of these students grew up going to healthy churches and living under the spiritual protection of godly families, but perhaps even more did not.
The college campus — and our world today — has not changed much. More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus stood before a crowd of people and felt “compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).
Then and now, an abundance of wandering souls — old and young alike — are blind to their brokenness. The harvest is very plentiful. The world has no shortage of people who are craving good news and don’t know it.
While Jesus hates the effects of sin in the world He created, His compassion would move Him to ensure those who are His find their way home. They will find their Shepherd. And they will find their Shepherd through His people, who are sprinkled throughout campuses and communities like lights in a dark room.
In a sense, Jesus is walking the college campus through us — His people. As we look out at the plentiful harvest on the college campus, we are called to pray, go, and tell — and not to do so alone.
Oswald Chambers has famously said that, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works — prayer is the greater work.” In other words, prayer is not just a preliminary checklist item we do to prepare us for the “greater” work of reaping the harvest. Prayer is the greater work of ministry.
When Jesus sent out the 72 disciples in pairs, the first thing He tells them to do is pray. He does not tell them to strategize. He does not tell them to go change their context. He does not tell them to go save lost people. He tells them to pray.
In essence, He tells them to bow themselves before a God who cares more about the harvest than they do. He tells them to submit themselves in prayer to the one who has the power to turn hearts, change lives, and heal brokenness.
If we could be a fly on the wall in a dorm room, we may become discouraged by the pervasive licentiousness. As God’s people labor on university campuses to make His name famous, we must never neglect to pray together as we go. And as we go, remember your own story of conversion and be reminded that you had someone praying for you too.
We are called to pray, but we are not only called to pray. After Jesus tells His disciples to pray, he commands them to go. What is God’s method of pushing back brokenness and ushering in the Kingdom? It’s you … and me … and every Christian. His method is Spirit-filled believers who are carrying the best news in jars of clay
The college campus is a communal microcosm. The church could learn a lot about what it looks like to “do life together” — a common phrase that’s hard to practice. Students share meals together, work together, and play together. We need to go to them, together.
To go is to leave the comforting familiarity of like-minded people to engage those who may be indifferent, hostile, or harsh. The call to go is to enter the communal microcosm of the college campus, inject ourselves into the lives of students, and pray God would begin changing their hearts through the gospel.
When we step onto the campus together and prepare to love students and share the gospel — despite the fear that may accompany evangelism — we take with us the promise that we are never alone. God sent the disciples out together because two is better than one (Eccl. 4:9-12), and in the kingdom, there are no Lone Rangers. He sent us out together in peace, knowing He will be with us always (Matt. 28:20).
As we pray and go together, we proclaim the best news we have ever heard.
We are telling students that God is not distant. He is intimately acquainted with their pain, hurt, and insecurities. He knows their hopes and desires. We tell them that, despite the many ways they have failed to live up to their own standards and, more importantly, the perfect standard required to be in God’s presence, someone already has done it on their behalf.
There is a way to be made right with God, and it does not require the A+ completion of a long list of moral to-dos. It’s a free gift of everlasting life and joy through Jesus. The inner narrative of “try harder and do better” is rewritten into the good news that Jesus gave His best — perfection — for you. They need only to accept the gift and walk in the joy of new life. This is good news
The harvest on the campus is plentiful; therefore, pray, go, and tell the good news together, knowing He is with you.
Learn more about church planting on college campuses in this episode of We Are Send Network.