What Does a Campus Minister Do Between Semesters?

From time to time, I wonder what supporters and other ministers think about my work – especially what I do with myself between semesters. Does it look like I have a month off in the winter and three months off in the summer, I think to myself?! Most likely they think very little about it, and this whole reflection stems from my own insecurities. Nevertheless, if you care about RUF, it might be helpful for you to know a little more about what those campus ministers you know and love do with their time.

It is true that campus ministry has a different pace at different times of the year. But I think of the difference as the difference between running a marathon and running wind-sprints. My father is a pastor, and I grew up within the routine of a pastor’s life. Pastoral care for a congregation is like a marathon. It’s incredibly difficult to find the right pace, but the skill is in finding the right pace.

Campus ministry is like running wind-sprints. During a semester, the weekly demands are very high. You can’t do much planning ahead, fund raising, or even reflection on the shape of the ministry. You’ve got meetings and the immediate demands of the week, and somehow trying to protect time for your family. (For most college students, the best time to do anything always seems to be in the middle of the night.) Then you get a chance to walk for a brief stretch… I suppose that’s the weird thing. In the summer (and to some extent in the winter) each year, the RUF campus ministers try to utilize this time to do just those things that there’s virtually no space do during the semester. If you’re on the support list of any campus minister, you’ve probably noticed that most of the funding discussions happen in the summer or in December.

Every July and December, all of the campus ministers gather for a week of training and reflection on their work. It’s also the time that we get to prepare for the next year. My summers still end up being pretty busy – just busy with long-term issues, not the immediate demands of students.

In the rapidly changing environment of the campus, the race is a sprint. You’ve got to be able to sprint from September to December, catch your breath, and then sprint from January to May. Over the summer you can get a sip of water and assess your form, then it’s back to the track. Sometimes I wish I ministered in a marathon context. I admire those skills, and maybe I’ll make that transition one day. For now the call is to sprint, and I’m setting up on the blocks for my next heat. So, it’s time to pray and leave it all out on the track! Pray for us!

Jeremy Mullen, Campus Minister at Harvard
January 17, 2014
Northeast@ruf.org • 610-691-0988 • 631 Fourth Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18018