Renewal and Revival
A friend of mine, Justin Christopher, started a campus ministry 20 years ago as a freshman at UT Austin. It started simply with him and a couple of other guys praying from 7-8 am every morning for the campus. By the time he graduated four years later, local campus ministers told him if he could raise support, he could continue his ministry full time under the auspices of one of their non-profits. It has now grown to multiple campuses across the country.
Prayer is still the foundation of Campus Renewal Ministries. And like a good foundation, it supports a much larger structure. At UT, CRM hosts the CHOP (Campus House of Prayer), where students meet together to pray daily from 6am until midnight in various shifts.
During Justin’s senior year, he and others organized “Rez Week” during Easter Week—five days of activities, concerts and prayer to honor Christ on campus. This past year was the seventeenth Rez Week, and, according to Justin, “the best one ever.” One night, they didn’t have a speaker, so they had outdoor praise and worship. God moved through that and two students suggested to the crowd a 21 day fast from ‘meats and sweets.’ 200 signed on.
CRM serves as an umbrella group that seeks to unify and coordinate all of the campus ministries. Campus ministers meet at CHOP weekly for prayer. And they really do pray. Only about 5 minutes is allowed for the entire group to share what God is doing through their ministry, such as students coming to Christ. (By the way, by Justin’s count of these reports, 906 UT students gave their lives to Christ this past year.)
Also, CRM sponsors an extensive survey of students each year to get a pulse of the spiritual environment on campus. This year’s survey of 1208 respondents that closely represented the university’s demographics was extensive measuring where students were spiritually before college and mapping changes through college. It is available in a very user friendly format on their website.
Finally, CRM organizes Christian students from all ministries to form “missional communities” in their areas of campus, whether it be their academic department, living community, ethnicity, clubs or other activities. A missional community is the campus equivalent of a “people group,” an identifiably unique group of students. CRM has identified over 500 missional communities at UT and has the goal of having at least two Christians in each one reaching out to the group. They currently know of 221 such groups with a deliberate Christian presence.
UT is blessed to have an organization like CRM that is taking a leadership role in transforming the spiritual landscape of campus. My personal desire is to work more closely with Justin and CRM to see how we can transform the spiritual landscape of the faculty and staff, which can further help the students.
Is there anything like CRM on your campus? Can you as a faculty member influence campus ministries to take CRM’s holistic approach? In what missional communities are you involved on campus, and how can you find another to partner with you in praying for it and asking God to transform it with the Gospel?
If you need help or ideas, contact Justin, or read his blog (listed in the blogroll on the right). He’ll also be starting a weekly podcast or two this fall. Watch for them on the CRM website.