Campus Ministry Matters

Like a Freshman

I’ve now worked on three college campuses.  In July I officially began here at the University of Minnesota.  And once again, I’m a freshman.  I still get lost on campus.  I still don’t know where all the buildings are.  And I’m still nervous about being here. I’m a freshman.

What does it mean to be a freshman?  How do we work with this group of students, especially at this time of year.  I have this sense of urgency to form a community of students who are hanging around all the time, having a great time, connected with one another and are planning events and taking the lead.  But can I expect this right now? I guess I’ve always had those upperclassmen we all love to be ready with the first few weeks of events and community building.  In the future, they will be there again.  I see a year from now a group of at least 10 of them who should be around.  But right now, we’re a group of freshman.  And those freshman, much like me, are somewhat terrified and overwhelmed.

So, how do we as campus ministers channel that feeling of being a freshman all over again?  I can’t expect a lot of leadership yet, I can’t expect people to show up every night and students to be ready to plan events. So what exactly do I do to make sure those freshman can feel welcome and we can grow a community that consists mostly of nervous and not fully grounded individuals. Essentially, how do I help a community live like a freshman but yet keep our  feet grounded and provide reassurance to those who come that it’s going to get better.

And how do I as a freshman campus minister on this campus get connected to those students?  Should I go to the atheist club or sneak into the Campus Crusade gathering to see what’s going on.  Should I just connect with professors and staff, should I host lots of events that have some publicity but don’t necessarily do more than provide hospitality.  Do I just connect as hard as I can with as many people as possible over coffee, lunch, random chance meetings?  Oh, to be a freshman again. But even if I’m not, I certainly feel like a Freshman all over again.

Thoughts, suggestions and more questions to ponder are welcomed.