I get asked all the time if I am planning to go back into full-time pastoral ministry? The question usually comes from a well-meaning church member at a church I am interiming at. The question is harmless and is meant to be a genuine interest in my calling and God’s will for life, but it always causes me to think.
What if I left Christian higher education and went back into full-time pastoral ministry? What would I lose? What would I give up? What would I exchange to be back in a FT pastoral staff position?
So far I have come up with 5 pretty good reasons why I believe God has put right where He wants me to be.
1. Access to numerous unbelievers. In my general education classes and walking all around campus are young men and women from all over the world and around our country who do not know the love of God in Christ Jesus. They have come to our Christian college for all sorts of reasons and at some point are expecting us to tell them what makes us different than other schools they considered. They are EXPECTING us to share the Good News of Jesus with them. Did you read that right? They are expecting us to share the Gospel with them. What an opportunity? What a mission we have before us?
2. Opportunity to teach about Jesus in an academic classroom. Students, some who believe and some who do not, take my class called Christ and Culture as part of their general education requirements. Get this – they have to study the Bible in order to get an A. They have to be able to explain the Good News of Jesus in order to pass one of the tests. That is unheard of. While they don’t have to become Christians to pass the course, they are exposed to the truths of the Gospel by an unashamed born-again Christian who believes the Bible is true and wants to help them with their questions about faith. This is amazing and definitely not like pastoral ministry.
3. Invitation to walk alongside younger believers in a critical times in their lives. Consider the number of youth group Christians who drop out of church during the college years. My job encourages me to come alongside these struggling believers and lift them up in their journey with Jesus. I get to ask them “how are things going between you and God?” and actually listen to their stories. This is such a critical moment in their lives and I believe it is so helpful to have professors and campus staff who care enough to ask. This happens every single day.
4. Freedom to serve alongside various churches, pastors, ministries, and even denominations for future generations. Because of my role at CU, I have freedom to help numerous churches and pastoral leaders. Unlike pastoral ministry, I am not confined to one single congregation as their pastor and therefore am more fluid and flexible to help whoever needs help.
For example, because of my work at CU and connections to fellow CU alums, God opened the door for me to work alongside LifeWay’s CentriKid camps and VBS for the past couple years. These ministries alone will reach 27,000 and 4 million kids and adults each year respectively. My part is little and somewhat insignificant. But being a small part in these huge ministries makes an enormous kingdom impact. Last year at CentriKid, nearly 1000 children come to faith in Christ. VBS is estimated to have seen 80,000+ children, teens, and adults make professions of faith last year. Again, my part is small in comparison to others, but I am humbled to even be on these teams in a small capacity.
5. Lastly, I have a chance to give back to a place that radically shaped me. Campbellsville Univ. is not only my employer, it is also my alma mater. I love this place! Words will never express what God did in my life during my 4 years here. Now I am sure there are many fine Christian institutions and universities. I am sure God is working mightily on all sorts of campuses – state, private, Christian and otherwise.
But I get the chance to give back to the place that shaped me personally. Not the institution, but the people who served within the institution. They took time to invest in my life, my ministry, my personal development as a man and my academic abilities as a student. I am indebted to this place and love getting the chance to replicate my experience in the lives of others.
For those reason and probably a hundred others, it is easy to answer those who ask if I would ever consider going back into full-time pastoral ministry, “No. I don’t think so. God has got me right where He wants me.”