In September 1998, Michigan Conference became the first in the North American Division (NAD) to create a department focused solely on ministry to secular university and college campuses. A year later, CAMPUS (Center for Adventist Ministry to Public University Students) was established as the nerve center of Michigan Conference’s Public Campus Ministries Department. Founded in Ann Arbor, Michigan, near the University of Michigan, CAMPUS is widely recognized today as the leader in Seventh-day Adventist secular campus ministry in North America. It has earned the trust of students and young people around the world, as a center where brilliant and committed Seventh-day Adventist leaders engage the world of public campus ministry and win souls for Christ. Grounded on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, we believe that CAMPUS is a fulfillment of Ellen White’s assertion that “…this work must be done, and it will be done by those who are led and taught of God.” (3 SM, p 234).
CAMPUS exists to prepare secular campuses for the imminent return of Christ. A Bible-based revival movement in which every student is a missionary is our vision. Our philosophy and methodology combine two synergistic ingredients: Excellence and Simplicity. Academic and spiritual excellence combined with biblical simplicity are our guiding pillars: “Your success is in your simplicity. As soon as you depart from it, your power is gone” (2T p 608). Oversight for CAMPUS is provided by the Directors of Michigan Conference’s Public Campus Ministries Department. They are assisted by a team of stipend and volunteer staff.
Believing that students are the most effective in reaching their fellow young people, the CAMPUS staff empowers students to do the actual work of ministry on their respective campuses. Students are encouraged to run their programs freely and to report back to CAMPUS for joint evaluation. Thus, without undermining students’ initiative and leadership, CAMPUS provides mentorship and leadership training for the students, giving them an opportunity to be active ministers on their campus and to each other.
The University of Michigan was used as the pilot project of the CAMPUS approach to ministry. This leading Michigan university currently has a vibrant Seventh-day Adventist fellowship which worships on campus every Sabbath and has seen souls added to God’s Kingdom through its ministry. Now the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Michigan has a presence and impact on every one of our 13 major university campuses in the state. It is also responsible for impacting or initiating successful campus ministries on other campuses like Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, the University of Virginia, and more.
Our extensive activities and events are summarized into three basic categories: grounding, training, and inspiration. We aim to make our Seventh-day Adventist young people strong leaders in our church by grounding them in our biblical message, training them to be leaders in soul-winning, and inspiring them to reach God’s ideal. Thus our programs prepare young people to be missionaries, leaders, and ministers in public campus ministry in Michigan and around the world.
The CAMPUS Missionary Training Program has served as the most effective training program in public campus ministry across the Division. CAMPUS has graduated more than eighty interns. A quarter of them are currently serving in full-time ministry as pastors or as leaders in public campus ministry.
CAMPUS has also impacted the local church. Over the past five years, it has developed a three-step process to help churches on/near university campuses become an official University Church – a church that has, as its primary mission, ministry on the local campus. This has created a model that is reproducible in churches and campuses of any size.
Recent transitions have birthed exciting opportunities for CAMPUS. Earlier this year, we acquired new headquarters on the campus of Michigan State University, relocating from the University of Michigan. The new headquarters allow for immediate impact on the university campus, office space for CAMPUS, GYC and Bonders (a new leadership alliance ministry for young professionals and their families), and the expansion of our training programs. In conjunction with the East Lansing University Church, we are launching a new Residency for ministers and leaders in public campus ministry. Pastors and pastors-in-training have the opportunity to learn and specialize in church ministry on public campuses by working with some of the most experienced pastors in the field of public campus ministry. Moreover, our Missionary Training Program is expanding – for young leaders who do not plan to go into pastoral ministry to, even more effectively, learn the art and calling of biblical leadership.
With the internet playing such a major role in the world of communication today, CAMPUS is collaborating with the Conference’s Communication Department, Bonders, and others, to spread the Advent message through a strong web-based ministry. Through the internet and in cooperation with the University Church (U Church), many people in hard to reach places are being impacted by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Michigan. Our goal is to expand this powerful ministry to include training for an ever-expanding web audience.
In conclusion, we are excited about what the Lord is doing on our secular university campuses. In these concrete jungles of secular universities, the mission field literally comes to us. The only thing greater than the challenges facing the church in this unique setting is the promise of God to be with us in this unique line of ministry. God has richly blessed our humble efforts in this “work that must be done” and we believe that, by His grace, it will be done by those who are led and taught by Him.
This report was prepared for the September 29, 2013 Michigan Conference Constituency meeting in Cedar Lake, MI