Are You Feeling Called to Young Adult and Campus Ministry?
By Kelsey Davis
I’ve heard it said in multiple ways and multiple places that we offer the ministry that we need to receive or that we offer the ministry that we have received.
Receiving is giving, and giving is receiving. This sacred truth is paradoxical and when embraced, it is deeply transformative.
Years ago, I received the gift of campus ministry. I had never heard of young adult and campus ministry as an office, instead I simply experienced it as a young adult searching for a spiritual home, authentic identity, and a loving place to belong.
As a student on the campus of the University of Portland, I was immersed in the best of Catholic education in the heart of a liberal city. As a place of crossroads, our campus served as a shelter for students needing to wrestle with life's deepest questions.
Questions that most human beings ask their whole lives: Who am I? Who is God? What is the work of the church? Where do I belong? What are my gifts to share? Where is the remedy for suffering?
Campus ministry had an office, yet the charge of loving students had no walls and it did not live in one missioner. Instead, the care of students belonged to the whole of campus—every staff member, ordained leader, teacher, and member of the community sought to care for one another, to minister to one another.
I serve in young adult ministry because as a young adult my life was changed and deeply impacted by loving adults who bent their ear toward my life. They cared, showed up, and kept watch—buying coffee, entertaining question after question after question, holding me with accountable grace when I was disorganized, soothing my suffering with their gentle understanding, laughing alongside shielding my joy, and connecting me to the resources needed to be equipped and empowered to continue healing along the way.
What I have received is what I hope to give.
I invite you to reflect on what life was like for you in college and in your 20s. Who loved you then? What did you receive?
Next, I invite you to consider how you might share those gifts forward.
Young adult & campus ministry is about keeping watch, being present, caring and loving deeply, a willingness to be creative in ancient and new ways, and a "yes" to looking again at life's questions.
You do not need the answers, only loving witness, reliability, openness of mind and heart, and willingness to get beyond church walls—most likely an offering of coffee and food-and to trust the Spirit among us.