The Biggest Challenge in Campus Ministry Today

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In this video, G’Joe and Aimee Joseph encourage a deeper look at the challenges of campus ministry, exposing the issue of the rejection of authority and suggest how Christians can respond.

The following is a lightly edited transcript; please check the video before quoting.

G’Joe Joseph: The biggest challenges in campus ministry, there’s a lot of things that come to mind when I heard that question for the first time. I think it’s pretty evident that some of the epidemics on the college campus like homosexuality, substance abuse, a lot of questions regarding anxiety, depression, addiction to screens and technology, all those things are things that I immediately thought about.

But as we talked about things, we begin to think there’s some core issues that are really even behind those questions or those issues that we see on the surface. And so, why don’t you share some of what’s central in our minds, thoughts more at the epicenter of some of those issues that we see on the surface?

Aimee Joseph: Yeah. I think in general, the millennial and beyond generations are deeply cynical and question authority. Some of that is really good, some of that is right because they see and they sniff out insincerity and inauthenticity. They recognize hypocrisy, they want something real, they want your life to line up with what you say.

And so there’s a questioning of authority. Like I said, some of that can be really good and healthy. But my fear in what I see on the college campus pretty widespread is a tendency, if they’re on a boat is to say, “We’re going to throw off the baggage of historical patriarchy and authority, and abuses of authority, and dominant systems of oppression.” In that process of throwing off the baggage of authority, I fear that they are throwing off the ballast. So, you know, ballast in a boat is the very thing that keeps the boat able to float, it balances the boat, it keeps it on the water. And what’s happening, and it’s very contradictory, is that this whole generation is saying, “We distrust authority, we’re cynical towards authority, so were going to throw it out.” But they don’t recognize that in so doing, they’re throwing away the ballast of absolute truth that holds life together, and they’re becoming their own authority. And so, the very thing that they need has become unmoored. They’re unconnected to truth, they’re wondering where truth is coming from, they’re having to make it themselves, they’ve become their own authority, and they’re questioning themselves.

And so, there’s this weird contradiction. They don’t like authority, and yet they are their own authority. And so, I think what they need, and what God graciously provides in the gospel, is a picture of a different authority. And I think we get that in Christ. I think we see an agape authority in Philippians 2. Jesus, who was in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped or utilized, but he emptied himself. He was an authority who said, “I’m not going to lord it over you although I could, but I’m going to voluntarily die for you.”

I think that kind of agape authority speaks to the heart of this generation, and we have an incredible opportunity. It’s challenging because they question all authority, and yet there’s this incredible opportunity to present them with this other kind of authority that does provide the meaning and the purpose.

And the questions that they’re asking, it answers them in a loving, profound, relevant way. So I think that’s kind of underneath some, not all of the behavioral stuff that you mentioned.

G’Joe Joseph: Absolutely.