“Y’all are a different kind of Christian”

Have you ever had anyone say to you, “You are not like other Christians I’ve met”? It seems in college ministry, this kind of comment can come up quite often as university and college campuses are teeming with students of diverse religious, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

What this comment used to mean, particularly for those of us who are female clergy, was “I didn’t know girls could be pastors.” As a Presbyterian, more generally it was “I didn’t know that there were Christians who could drink alcohol!” (The latter was usually after someone saw me having a glass of wine or a margarita at a local restaurant.)

These days, it both breaks my heart and inspires a deeper passion for the Holy Spirit’s work through UKirk ministries, when I hear:

  • I didn’t know there were Christians who didn’t hate people from the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • I didn’t know there was a place I could be honest about my questions about God and the Bible.
  • I didn’t know there was a place on campus where I could find food/housing/support.
  • I didn’t know there were people who wouldn’t just tell me to “pray harder” when I shared mental health struggles, and would tell me that “I could love Jesus and have a therapist, too”.
  • I didn’t know there were Christian communities on campus where everyone doesn’t have to agree on social or political topics….where I’m not told only one perspective is “faithful.”
  • I didn’t know there were ministries where faith is more than just “me and Jesus”, where I am invited to participate in Christ’s mission of justice, peace and service to others using my gifts, talents and abilities.
  • I didn’t know there was a place where I would be told God loves me, and I am welcome in this community.

These are statements that you, UKirk campus ministers, frequently share when we gather virtually or in person, and they point to a different kind of Christian witness that the UKirk network ministries have on campuses across the country.

And you are also sharing that this joyful, life-giving, transformative witness seems to be getting harder and harder to do. Whether it be leading campus ministry in an increasingly divisive and polarized world ramping up for another election cycle, your ministry’s financial struggles, juggling personal and professional demands, caring for students in crisis, or even learning how to manage growing ministries and expanded service to the community, campus ministry is not for the faint of heart! And that doesn’t even include inviting this next generation to take their place in God’s story of redemption, hope, forgiveness and resurrection as we follow Christ together.

I was asked this week to tell a new campus minister about the 2024 UKirk National Gathering and why they should attend given their limited con ed budget. (I first said, “I get it – there are lots of opportunities and not enough money or time to go to everything you want to.”) I said:

  1. You will be surrounded by a community of peers who get what you do, and can support you personally and professionally.
  2. You will have the opportunity to more deeply ground yourself in God’s all-inclusive grace and love while also learning, exploring, and planning how you can share this expansive understanding of who God is on your college campus.
  3. You will be able to gain very practical skills in fundraising/development, campus outreach, and other ministry areas that you can implement when you get home.
  4. You will have time to rest, reflect, be.

Yes, friends, UKirk ministries witness to a “different way to be Christian” and it can be transformative, demanding work. Think about joining us at the UKirk National Gathering June 11-14, 2024, to be strengthened for the season ahead.

Peace and blessings,


PS – And don’t forget, UKirk is offering full and partial SCHOLARSHIPS for UKirk network ministers to the National Gathering!