People often ask me what the best and most difficult parts of ministry are.
Obviously, the absolute best is when someone comes to know Christ, whether at an event or through discipleship and relationships. New life in Christ is an absolute joy to witness and be part of.
But if I were honest, the greatest joys and hardest moments often come hand in hand. For me, both answers have to do with college students. We are in the business of students leaving us every May. We do life with them for seven years, then they leave us and go off. May comes around, they walk that graduation stage, we celebrate, we cry, and then they go off to a new adventure. And we are left to do it all over again.
One of the greatest joys of ministry is to see our students thriving in college.
I love when they come back after graduation, a semester or year into college, and tell us all about how God is moving in their lives. I love it when college students start to find their calling and serve in the local church. Seeing them find community outside of our student ministry and enjoying the unique season of college is one of my favorite things. Getting to pray with them through decisions about careers or summer internships is exciting and so fun to be part of. It's as if the seven years before college were worth it. To see our students come back and share how they're walking with God seems to show the fruit of the awkward middle school years, the drama through homecomings, and often hard conversations. It's fun to talk with college students as they wrestle with how to work out their faith and where they fit in with the overall church. They breathe life into the culture of a ministry.
I love when college students love Jesus. These are the moments and the conversations that give life.
However, the hardest part of ministry to me also happens to pertain to college students. When life hits, when community is difficult to find, and students walk away from their faith, it's hard. It's the hard part of ministry in my life and my heart. Students that we have walked through life together, who have served and led in our ministry, that step away from their faith makes my heart break.
But then we get to celebrate when they return to Jesus again. Because the good news of the Gospel is that redemption is never too far off. God is near to these students, even if they don't see Him at the time.
And that's what Encourage U is about. Our heart is to encourage college students, to send just a little box now and then. College is tricky and hard to navigate. We want to provide students with tools to spur on their faith. We want to help college students love Jesus by sending reminders about how to keep pursuing their relationship with Him. We want to make it relevant and easy for college students to keep walking with Jesus so that we can all have some of those awesome moments when they tell us about what God is up to in their lives.