A Picture of a Campus Minister's Summer

School is most definitely not in, and most campus ministers are currently enjoying that reality. That does, however, beg the question, "what do you do during the summer?" Occasionally, I reply, "anything I want to." But that's really not the case. So I have decided to give you a picture of a campus minister's summer.

Now, before I go explaining the picture (refer to the photo labelled "Derek Bates' Summer Desk"), I must note some important elements are missing. For instance, I couldn't squeeze my family into this picture. There's a bunch of them, and they're far too large to fit on my desk, but catching up with family is an important aspect of the summer, given the excessive demands of the school year. I also did not include a picture of our staff training, an excellent and obligatory aspect of a RUF campus minister's summer. Also omitted is any reference to Summer Conference, General Assembly, and Presbytery responsibilities. You may have seen a bazillion Summer Conference pictures by now, and the other responsibilities, though important, are somewhat irregular, meaning we only do them every now and then. What you're getting in this picture is a snap shot of the daily life of a campus minister's ongoing responsibilities during the summer.

First, beginning on the left, you will notice an envelope, already addressed and stamped. That is a thank you note, and that note represents one of a campus minister's chief responsibilities during the summer; to raise money and tend to relationships with his donors. Some men travel quite a bit during the summer in order to raise the funds for their work. I myself am heading to St. Louis, MO later in the month in order to visit with some of our wonderful supporters.

In the center, my laptop presents me with this day's duty, a long report that I must complete for my area coordinator, David Green. Along with the papers directly in front of it, these documents detail our thoughts, goals, and plans for the upcoming semester. I can complete the report in a few hours, but the necessary thought and preparation required to do so well requires days, even weeks. In order to finish the report, I will need to know what I am speaking on in the fall (and why I'm doing so), what small group Bible studies we will be offering in the fall, who my leaders will be and how I plan to train and encourage them, and what events we have planned in order to reach and welcome freshmen.

Top right, you see a stack of books, which is proof that I am busy working on a sermon series for the upcoming semester. Having decided what to teach, I am now busy deciding what to focus on, as a thirteen week semester requires very deliberate use of our speaking opportunities. By the time I am done preparing, I will know what I am speaking on each week this fall, and I hope to have two or three messages complete before the semester begins.

Lastly, bottom right, you see a small stack of papers. Those are sermons, messages. I do a great deal of speaking at churches throughout the summer, and I suspect other campus ministers do as well. Most Sundays I am in a church other than my own, preaching God's word, in order to serve those congregations while their pastors are away studying or vacating. I enjoy doing this, and consider it an important aspect of the relationship we have with our local churches. They care for our work at Pitt, give financially, and pray for us. We pastor their students, share the gospel on a campus they can not reach, and occasionally come and encourage them with the gospel from their own pulpits.

So, as you can see, we really do work during the summer. It's good work, good summer work, for which we are thankful.

Derek Bates, Campus Minister at Pitt
July 16, 2013
Northeast@ruf.org • 610-691-0988 • 631 Fourth Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18018