We asked student ministry workers in South Africa to share the importance of purpose in ministry. They explain how being in student ministry has challenged them to understand the complexities of other backgrounds. Also, the impact of student ministry in their own lives, and how it challenged their view of the purpose of life. Lastly, the challenge of how students can use their time in college or university.
Assisting the Next Generation to Find Purpose
Listen to David Cloete and Sinethemba “Poacher” Hliso as they share how they’ve come to understand purpose and freedom through the next generation.
“Student ministry facilitates those hard questions that sometimes we overlook in different church setting and family contexts”
Understanding the Importance of Context
David: “Asking the question of purpose, that just threw me and I realised how out of touch and sometimes some of the stuff that I’m giving students are out of context. I don’t, even in my processing, don’t have all the answer, because I’m not in touch with my context. We have the opportunity to help students navigate their purpose, as whatever ethnicity or person they are. They are a student and at the same time with a Christian identity which is overall, overarching all these things and navigating themselves through that.
I found student ministry facilitates those hard questions that sometimes we overlook in different church setting and family contexts. We get to speak to this person and have the tough conversations of purpose, meaning, ethics and the messiness of it and Christ.”
“Our purpose as Christians is not a life of performance, that we need to perform for us to win God’s approval… That is not the way.”
The Response, Rather than Performance
Poacher: “Our purpose as Christians is not a life of performance, that we need to perform for us to win God’s approval. That is not the way. And so, in that, there is liberation and some sort of lightness in how you live out your Christianity. There is no fear because you are accepted. And for me, it takes me back to the first time I heard of the gospel. I heard about it and I thought to myself this is a beautiful thing.
Next, I said I would do this! I’ll go and stop doing all the bad things I used to do. I remember, it was a school holiday, and I said, I’m gonna stop doing this, I’m going to stop swearing, and I tried very hard. And I could feel within a week or so, I said, I’m tired and I can see obviously, I’m failing miserably. I can’t stop doing this. This is where purpose became a question.
The Weight of Performance and Lightness of Response
Poacher: “I realised as I’m going back to campus. The guy who was kind of pursuing me asked, “So have you made that decision?” I was said, “I’m very close I’m left with a few things then I’ll be ready for Jesus.” Then he says this to me, “But you do understand, like, that no one goes to a shower because they are clean? They go there because they are dirty and they want to be clean. So Jesus is calling you to come as you are.” I was like, “of course! I was like if that is the case, please I want to in.” I could feel the weight lifted off my shoulders. I remember that moment.
“No one goes to a shower because they are clean! They go there because they are dirty and they want to be clean. So Jesus is calling you to come as you are”
Living a Life of Purpose
Poacher: “Telling people that your purpose is not performance, it is a response to what Christ has done. You can live out for him with that freedom and joy that we have of what he’s done. That’s how you live. The reality is, as Christians on campus you are not there trying to find a corner, like a private club. That now, you will be going and tell the campus of what you have been told. Saying, there is a way to be saved, there is a way to be right with God. And I think, that is your purpose while you are still on campus.”