By Audrey Chan, Team Lead, Pacific Region
Like you, many faculty and administrators pray for the campus and students. They share the gospel, even when it’s risky. If you’re like me, maybe you’ve served in campus ministry for multiple years without considering ministering to faculty or staff, even though they’ve likely been loving the campus much longer than ourselves.
But what transformation could we see among these key allies who are highly vested in seeing our students and faculty transformed and our campuses renewed? How may God be calling us to propel this corner of campus into deeper mission, and what fruit could be borne in students, staff, and faculty alike as we partner together?
What does faculty transformation look like?
Our faculty and staff face immense pressure from university politics, performance expectations, demands on their position, and more. From our first faculty and staff prayer meeting in April 2015, it was evident that gathering together provided unique relief and rest with others who understood their position. And as fellow believers who loved the same campus, they encouraged each other by testifying to how they’ve prayed for colleagues, come alongside each other in the tenure process, and boldly shared Bible verses with their students. Our faculty advisor had personally been teaching for over a decade without knowing any other Christians on campus, and this newfound fellowship has propelled her excitement to not just teach at Sacramento State University but also to see God’s kingdom come.
What if we let these corners of campus impact each other?
Aside from ministering directly to these faculty, administrators, and university staff, partnering with them has changed my ministry with undergraduate students, both in giving my students a larger vision of reaching the campus, and also in the unique partnership that students and faculty and staff can have together. Here are a few examples:
- Faculty, Staff, and Students praying together – We had an idea to bring these three groups together for a time of prayer at our Fall 2015 Vision Camp. During this Camp, we prayed together first for the campus, then the faculty prayed for the students heading into New Student Outreach (NSO), then the students prayed for the faculty’s witness on campus. This prayer hour was the highlight for many of our students during the vision camp. They were surprised and encouraged that there were professors praying for them, and many confessed that they had not considered that faculty members needed prayer and encouragement, too. We’ve continued to set this time aside at every leaders camp ever since. At the prayer time this past August, a professor led us in a prayer walk across different areas of campus.
- Students expanding their witness to faculty and staff - Taylor, one of our student leaders and an athlete felt compelled to share about her time at Fall Conference with her athletic trainer Megan, and discovered Megan was a Christian! Taylor invited Megan to learn more about our prayer gathering for faculty and administrators. It was incredibly encouraging for Megan to find an active group of believers at her new workplace. Another of our students felt God challenging her to take a risk—she went up to her professor after class to invite him to join our next prayer meeting.
- Staff using their access and power for the ministry - Faculty, university staff, and administrators also serve our fellowship in ways other ministry partner can’t, due to their position and work on campus. During the year InterVarsity was derecognized at California State Universities, it was one of our university staff contacts who permitted us to continue meeting publicly in an alcove in the Union, instead of insisting we move our meetings off campus. Though we were re-recognized the following year, it was a Christian administrator who helped us find a room for large group the first couple weeks while our paperwork was processed.
How a CSM ended up working with faculty and staff...
If serving faculty and staff feels intimidating, don’t worry! The beginning of faculty and staff ministry on your campus can start with a combination of skills commonly used for NSO and Ministry Partner Development (MPD), a keen ear to the needs of the faculty and staff you meet, and remaining attentive to how God is already at work or connecting. With those principles in mind, here are the three practical steps that started Sac State’s ministry:
- Meet face to face. Whenever I got the name of a Christian faculty or staff member, I asked for a meeting to learn about their experience on campus, the things they cared about, and what would serve them—much like the conversations I have for MPD. And like with any partner, I also asked if I could add them to my prayer letter list so they could stay connected to the undergrad ministry.
- Keep a list of contacts. Every person I met or heard of was added to a Google spreadsheet. When our network started growing, I invited our Christian faculty and staff members to add whoever they knew as well. We had about twelve individuals on our list by the time we decided to get together, and now the list is over 20.
- Pray. The catalyst to our first faculty and staff meeting in April 2015 was a fellow Christian professor and me both getting a clear sense that we should “go.” Many of us are familiar with planting new ministries prayerfully and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and this is no different. As the group begins to gather, keep praying. Invite faculty to pray for your chapter—they understand the context more than most. Their prayers and care for campus ministry is valuable. And invite your students to be praying for faculty, too.
Our ministry to faculty is still young, yet we’re working to develop relationships that have a lasting impact on campus. Faculty are incredible ministry partners, providing practical help through their prayers and involvement. May this corner of campus both experience and participate in God's transformation as we partner with them.