“For everything, there is a season….”
So began Pastor Mark Lawrence’s announcement that he was transitioning from his role as Regent’s Director of Campus Ministries after five impactful years. This phrase, taken from Ecclesiastes 3, poignantly captures the spirit of beginnings and endings and astutely describes the changes happening at Regent as our school adapts to serve the needs of students. The honor-filled transition from Pastor Mark to Dr. Jeff Gossmann, the new Director of Campus Ministries, is symbolic of Campus Ministries’ endeavor to build on the strengths of past models while growing to better serve students. Since many changes have occurred, here’s a closer look at Campus Ministries’ development.
Why is Campus Ministries Changing?
First, the “why.” Campus Ministries’ vision is “to be a catalyst that inspires every Regent student to live for the glory and kingdom of God.” Let’s walk through this statement to see the heart behind the department’s structural changes:
“To be a catalyst…”: A catalyst sparks the beginning of an event. Campus Ministries’ heart, both generally and with the specific changes it has made recently, is to be a springboard for students’ lifelong journeys with Jesus.
“…that inspires every Regent student…”: Campus Ministries’ desires to ensure there is a space for every Regent student, regardless of background, to be inspired to seek God, know Him and follow Him.
“…to live for the glory and kingdom of God.”: The test of any ministry is its disciple-making influence or, to use the imagery Jesus used in Matthew 7, the “fruit” it bears. This has prompted Campus Ministries to ask, are our activities best helping Regent students live transformed by the gospel of Jesus? What has worked in past models, what has failed and how can we serve better moving forward?
What is Campus Ministries Changing?
Now for the “what.” This past year, Campus Ministries has prayerfully evaluated its programs to ensure that its activities and resources are best suited to accomplish this vision.
Campus Ministries’ mission (how it aspires to accomplish the vision) is to “foster Christian community, cultivate spiritual growth and equip students to fulfill the Great Commission for every vocation.” Let’s break it down:
“Foster Christian community”: The wonderful part of attending a Christian university is that its departments, from Advising to Theatre, all play interconnected roles in cultivating Christian community. Regent cannot serve its students effectively unless the departments serve in their strengths and in partnership with each other toward a common goal.
So, while Campus Ministries provides a practical outlet for spiritual involvement on campus, the department has precipitated unprecedented collaboration with other departments to foster community. From co-sponsoring events with OSAL to improving interdepartmental communication and advertisement about campus events, Campus Ministries looks forward to increased partnership with all departments at the school. Beyond this, the department is fostering relationships with local churches and ministries through events such as the Church Connection Fair to help students find strong spiritual community outside of Regent.
“Cultivate spiritual growth”: To cultivate is to tend something carefully to help it achieve its potential. Campus Ministries has sought to do this through its Connect Groups, University Chapel and UnChapel services. Months of prayer shaped the new “Freedom, Identity and Destiny in Christ” curriculum. This curriculum was developed to help students learn about the freedom and new identity available in Christ and become established in their journey of becoming His disciples. The new Connect Group structure, which replaces Life Groups, provides student leaders with greater mentorship, support and balance. Additionally, through the curriculum, the groups improve continuity between UnChapel messages and small group discussion content. The heart behind this is that empowering student leaders and creating space for deeper discussion will cultivate spiritual growth within the Regent Community.
“Equip students to fulfill the Great Commission for every vocation”: The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:16-20, encapsulates the heart of discipleship: to share the good news of Jesus and help believers know God and live according to His Word. In this spirit, Campus Ministries aspires to help students learn to live as Christians in any sphere of influence they are in—from career to family to friendships and everything in between. The best way to do this is to help students learn what it means to live as people who have been changed by Jesus. This is essential as a person’s identity is what they carry into every sphere of influence they have. The new curriculum, Connect Groups and a rich schedule of service speakers have been coordinated with the heart to serve this end.
“…He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
To me, the beauty of Ecclesiastes 3 lies not only in its poetic beginning, but in the author’s observation that God makes every season beautiful when brought to maturity. The Lord can bring eternal value out of seasons of change when they are submitted into His sovereign care. Seasons of change lift our eyes from this temporary world to the steadfast, unshakable One in whose hands our times and Regent’s times are held.
So, Regent family, as Campus Ministries adapts to what the Lord is doing, your prayers are appreciated. Such change takes time—time to evaluate, learn from the past and build—and an abundance of patience and grace. Perfection is impossible, yet a heart for excellence is alive and well. We wait with expectation. As with anything submitted to the Lord, He is crafting it into something beautiful.