In Acts chapter 2, there is a scene where people from all over the world are gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, a Jewish festival celebrated 50 days after Passover. This is also the site of what some would call the first gospel sermon, as Peter and the apostles stand before the crowd and proclaim the truth about Jesus. The people hear this truth and respond, and Acts 2:41 tells us that about 3000 were added to the church that day. From here, these newly-baptized followers of Jesus returned to their homes, and the gospel spread like wildfire.
The Pentecost principle is this: When a worldwide audience is gathered together, they hear the gospel, and they are compelled to follow Jesus, focusing on that audience is the most strategic way to advance God’s kingdom.
Every school year, that worldwide audience gathers on college campuses right in our own backyard.
We can hope they find us and welcome them when they do - that’s fine - or we can strategically reach them with the gospel. Here are three reasons why I think we should treat the college campus like a mission field:
1) College students are open to learning
Acts 17:2 says “As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” Everywhere the apostle Paul went, he started by going to the synagogues and the marketplaces. He went where the people were, and more importantly where people were willing to discuss a variety of ideas, philosophies, and ways of life. In our world, the place where people want to learn about new things is on the college campus - it is the logical place to begin as we aim to build the kingdom.
2) They are in a major life transition
Transitional moments in life can be difficult. We’ve all had phases of life when we feel like the floor has fallen out from under us and we want something solid to cling to. For many of us, that solid rock has been God - we can help college students, who are in the midst of a major transition, to discover the Rock as well. Ephesians 5:16 exhorts us, “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” In college, most students are experiencing more freedom than they have ever had, and we can help them use that freedom to grow in spirit and serve God.
3) They will become leaders around the world
Jesus charges his followers to go to all nations and make disciples, but on the college campus, all nations come to us! We send our missionaries around the world to various places (and we should!), but also we can see college as a four-year missions training program,
so when students graduate, they return home equipped and empowered to share their faith wherever they wind up. If we want to fulfill the Great Commission
(Matthew 28:18-20), the most strategic option for
making disciples of all nations is making disciples of college students here and now.