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The fog of war


August 14, 2017
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Every September it happens for me.

I’ve taken extended time to prepare during the summer. I’ve formulated a strategy and I’ve enlisted laborers. I’m excited to see what God is going to do on campus.

With each freshman class, I think about all the ways He is going to use prepared laborers to impact lives.

The first week of class hits, and after a week I feel like I’ve been hit by a tidal wave.

Between gospel conversations, following up with new believers, helping new laborers know what to do next, and being a father and a husband, I feel like I begin to fail in all areas of my life.

The fog always seems to lift sometime during October, and it’s beautiful when it does, but doing ministry in the fog can be exhausting.

Here are some key principles to remember during the “September College Ministry Fog of War.”

Remember, this is about God.

He is responsible for numbers; you are responsible for faithfulness.

Be faithful in prayer, spend time in the Word, and don’t abandon fellowship with other believers in the midst of getting contacts, setting up appointments, and planning meetings and events.

Trust in Matthew 6:33 to seek first His kingdom and “all these things” (contacts, appointments, events) will be added to your ministry.

Remember, this is about the Gospel.

If I forget something in September, I don’t want it to be this. We can overcome a bad meeting or a failed event. We can’t afford to neglect the gospel.

If you sow generously in the fall, you will reap generously in the spring.

You know the first month of the semester is the time when students are generally most open to new relationships and spiritual conversations.

So, if you are ever wondering what you should be doing in the fog, get on campus and share the gospel.

Remember, this is about people.

As you celebrate the dozens to hundreds of people at your events, remember the numbers have names. Make a point and plan to know those names. It’s not that people are bad with names, it’s that they have no strategy for being good with them.

True, there are those blessed with the ability to meet someone and lock in a name with a face in a way that many people can’t. However, often those people who think they are naturally good with names have inadvertently stumbled onto mnemonic devices anyone could use.

At the very minimum, you should have some type of way to record names with brief descriptions of the students you meet in September.

I’ve used steno pads, spreadsheets, and apps like Evernote to learn names. Our tool of choice now is a great tool Cru has developed called Mission Hub.

Knowing a name goes a long way in helping someone feel comfortable enough to allow you to speak into their life spiritually.

Remember, there are others beside you.

Don’t forget that you are working with people. Life doesn’t stop for them in this season.

Do your best to love and encourage the student leaders or staff you are working with. Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

Be sure to encourage and spur others on in this season of hard work.

Make a point to budget time for your family and your church.

Anyone who does not care for their family, even in September, is still “worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).

And the admonishment to not give up meeting together (Hebrews 10:25) shouldn’t be ignored when your schedule gets filled.

Don’t abandon or forsake the relationships God has entrusted you with for the sake of future opportunities for ministry.

Reflection Questions

What crucial aspect of ministry do you neglect when times get stressful?

What elements of ministry would you say are crucial for the start of the fall semester?

As you go into the fall semester, how can you enlist others to help you not neglect the most important parts of ministry?

  • Bill Bray

    So appropriate. So True. Thanks.