Reflections on “Campus Making” – Austin Dreyer

It was my honor to attend the Campus Making ministry conference, May 7-9 in Guelph, Canada.  There were many facets of the three-day retreat that will leave a lasting impression on me, not the least of which was the fact it fell on my first consecutive days above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in 2013!  The purpose of the retreat was for people invested in campus ministries from campuses across Canada and the United States to gather and experience God in community.  This included worshiping together, attending workshops tackling controversial topics, eating meals together, swapping stories around a campfire and several keynote addresses by the author, Andy Crouch. For me, the conference proved to be a much-needed break from my regular schedule as a graduate student in addition to a spiritual renewal for my dedication to the Campus Edge ministry at Michigan State University.

The specific location of the conference was the Crieff Hills Conference Center, where their tagline is, “A place apart.”  I was struck by how easily the center lived up to this promise, primarily by having miles (or kilometers perhaps, we were in Canada after all) of trails to roam, and extremely limited Internet access.  Technology in general is often demonized for constructing barriers between people in this world of personalized entertainment and the constant barrage of e-mails that demand our attention over the people sitting in the same room as us. Having those links intentionally severed was very liberating.  And having the opportunity to run over some trails through the forest combined with freedom from my electronic leash did much to clear my head.

Given a wonderful setting to encounter the glory of God’s creation, the only other ingredient for a conference is filling the space with awesome people.  And the people that gathered with us at Crieff Hills fit that bill to a ‘T’. It was a mix of graduate students, undergraduates, campus ministers, retired ministers, spouses, old, young, Pentecostal, Christian Reformed, the list goes on and on. I was really blown away by the variety of people in attendance. It was thoroughly refreshing to spend time with people outside of my typical departmental and even institutional bubble.  In fact, Americans were in the minority at this conference, and I can’t remember the last time I attended a meeting where that was the case! The real value of that diversity, for me, came in conversations with people from so many miles away, both geographically and spiritually in terms of faith journeys. To hear all of us discuss the same topics and be able to offer guidance to one another was a very satisfying experience. I know it will also be a source of courage the next time we face a challenge at MSU, knowing full well that so many brothers and sisters on campuses across North America are facing the same struggles with us. 

The actual title for the conference was “Campus Making:  Playing with Power.” Our unifying theme was that we all felt called to share the gospel with those around us on our respective campuses, a powerful mandate indeed. To that end, there were keynote addresses by the author, Andy Crouch, and many workshops focusing on issues that are highly relevant to a body of believers reaching out to the campus community structure.  Both of these activities gave me abundant food for thought, and while I did not agree with everything that was said, I took my discomfort as an indicator that I was plugged in and actively participating in what was going on around me.  And for anyone that knows me and my potent sweet-tooth, the candy the organizers provided at each keynote was quite literally the icing on the cake for those times we gathered together to engage with what Andy had to say.

In the end, the conference boiled down to just a few key components for me.  It was a time for me to experience community with other individuals who, like me, desire to grow campus ministry.  It was also a time for me to worship with, and get to know better, the people that lead my campus ministry with me.  As we participate in different worship bodies back at MSU, I enjoyed having time together with my comrades at Campus Edge and simply praising God. I am very thankful for the opportunity I had to set aside a few days to focus solely on our creator and how he can use us in his good works.  And ultimately, as a result of the conference, I am more eagerly than ever anticipating another year of ministering to graduate students at Michigan State University.

Thursday Night Bible Study

We have been studying Moses and Paul and it has been very insightful. These are two individuals that were just as imperfect as any other human, yet did amazing things for God. We have been trying to learn and understand what made these two men unique, yet still human like us. How did God use them despite their imperfections? That is a critical question we have been asking during this study. We have tried to relate the story of Moses and Paul to our lives. We see our imperfections, our failures, our shortcomings, but then we see God display His power through it. We see how Moses and Paul were frustrated at times, tired, and angry, yet they persisted through God’s strength. We want to model their character and behavior in our continual pursuit of a relationship with God. Being able to take what God has given us, use it in the face of difficulty, is of paramount importance to our every day lives. Relying on God and not on ourselves. This is what Moses and Paul exemplified. Yet, they were still both imperfect which shows us that no matter who we were, or who we are, God can use us. All we have to do is commit and say, “Yes Lord, please use me because you are greater than me or any of my failures.”

 ~Bryan Crutcher

Reliving Childhood

Reflections from the Parent’s Night Out Fundraiser

As a graduate student, I don’t get to spend time with kids too often. At least, not as often as I’d like. Parents Night Out was a great way to get that “kid fix” and spend time with fellow Campus Edge members. The best part about Parents Night Out- seeing graduate students in fields of law, music, medicine and many others becoming kids again by giving kids piggy-back rides, “playing house,” and using “baby talk” around the infants. Whether you felt comfortable around kids, or were first-time babysitters, there was something for everyone to get involved in. Students who didn’t have as much babysitting experience coming in to the night, were seen ending the night holding babies until they fell asleep, or watching “Brave” alongside all the kids, equally as entertained. The night consisted of activities for children of each age range, good food, and good company. It certainly was entertaining to see how graduate students and kids combined their creativity to play bizarre games and act out TV or movie characters we haven’t even heard of. From nine-year-olds to two-month olds, there were enough laughs, smiles, screams, and cries to keep all the volunteers busy! By the end of the night- midterms, long nights at the library, and papers didn’t seem as chaotic as they did before! Students seemed to really enjoy getting to spend time with kids, as well as with each other.

~Erin Laarman