Campus ministry at UTAS - Part 1: Fellowship Groups not Bible Studies

Over the next month or so, I’m going to talk through some of the aspects of how we do the campus ministry at the University of Tasmania, called ‘University Fellowship of Christians’. I have people asking about how we do things from time to time, and so I figured it’d be helpful to put it all down in one place.

Fellowship Groups: not Bible Studies

Our small groups are not small group Bible Studies or gospel communities, but rather they are missionary prayer groups. About half of them might do Bible studies as a part of their meeting time, but this is not compulsory. What is compulsory is that they spend time in evangelistic prayer:

  • They run from 30-90 minutes.

  • They have from 3-15 people.

  • They are groups mainly around faculty/course or residential college.

  • They pray for their non-Christian friends and classmates, for other campuses using AFES’ monthly PrayerNet bulletin, for world mission, using a range of resources, such as the CMS Prayer Diary.

A Missionary Society Not A Church

We are very clear that we don’t intend to be a local church. We are not able to provided holistic pastoral care for our students. We are not aiming to meet all their discipleship needs.

Rather we are a missionary society on campus, who is focussed on engaging students in evangelistic mission AND training up Christian leaders.

So we don’t run growth groups, that might double-up and overlap with the growth groups students might attend with church. We don’t want them dropping out of church because ‘I already get that on campus’, not do we want them avoiding our campus small groups because ‘I already go to a growth group at church’. Our groups are doing something different and unique.

Evangelistic Prayer, Evangelism and Overseas Mission

It is my conviction that one of the best ways to start getting people thinking and acting evangelistically is to get them to start regularly praying evangelistically. It is hard to look at your classmates from a merely worldly point of view if you are praying for their conversion each week.

More than this, the group begins to function as a small form of evangelistic accountability. When you ask for prayer as you invite a classmate to the evangelistic course, you are also prompting the group to ask you next week how you went!

In the same way, one of the best ways to get people to seriously consider full-time ministry and overseas mission is to get them to pray for the great and plentiful harvest. I want students to be heavily exposed to world mission through involvement in our ministry. And I think praying for world mission is more powerful than short-term mission trips.

Pastoral Care, Socialising and Training

It’s not that we neglect to care for the people in our groups. We give training to our group leaders to provide pastoral care to their group members, we encourage them to plan social times and do one to one ministry.

We do these things because even though we are primarily an evangelistic and leadership training ministry, we are still a CHRISTIAN ministry. We do not want to neglect the spiritual welfare of others, simply because it is not our core mission.

We also have a larger structure, ‘Faculty Clusters’ that provide some of these things. More in a future post.

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