We are excited to start highlighting some campus ministries and their leaders on the blog. One of the unique aspects of campus ministry is the diversity in ministry that exists from campus to campus, state to state, church to church, and beyond! Through these ministry spotlights, we hope to show you different models of ministry, lessons that experienced leaders have learned, and help you to gain insight into what campus ministry could look like in your own community!
LCMA: Can you Introduce yourself and tell us your name, title, and where you serve?
JW: My name is Jay Winters. I am the Pastor at the University Lutheran Church and Student Center in Tallahassee, Florida.
LCMA: Which campuses are you connected with?
JW: Florida State University primarily, to a lesser degree Florida A&M and Tallahassee Community College.
LCMA: How long have you been serving in campus ministry?
JW: Almost 15 years
LCMA: Tell us about your campus ministry & mission. JW: University Lutheran is a Jesus-Centered community of Scripture, Faith, and Grace. It seeks to cultivate leadership for the next generations of the Church.
LCMA: What does your ministry look like day to day?
JW: My personal ministry looks like a lot of meetings with student leaders who are equipped to engage with our campus in a variety of ways. We conceptualize our ministry (i.e. service) to campus as that of something like a monastic community that works for the good of our neighbors.
LCMA: What do you sense are the challenges facing today's college students?
JW: Increasing loss of a "metanarrative" - an agreed upon overall story for humankind. Distrust of leadership and confusion of leadership with assessment/grading. Scriptural and theological illiteracy. Feeling like a "false front" has to be presented to everyone instead of real struggles and failures. Anxiety and other mental health issues.
LCMA: What's the most rewarding part of your role?
JW: Hearing the change that happens in the momentous years of undergraduate studies. Seeing when ideas click and students "get it" when they had not before. Walking with students as they grow as leaders.
LCMA: What has been the most effective event or ministry activity you have done recently?
JW: We shifted our metrics from the number of students engaged in our more programmatic activities (e.g. small groups, fellowship events) to a metric that measures the number of student leaders that we are training. This means that we don't care (as much) about how many people show up to an event, what we care about is the experience of the leader of that event. This has proved extremely effective.
LCMA: Share one success story from your campus ministry that can encourage others.
JW: We killed it - not in a good way. We made some decisions that felt like they were the right decisions, but ended up being very flawed. Those decisions decimated the number of students that we could connect with and made it difficult for several years, BUT we recognized the problem and started solving it. Now we are doing ministry in a way that is even better than when we made the mistake!
LCMA: Do you have any prayer needs we can lift up for you?
JW: As always - that God would send us leaders to form and give experiences to and that God would make us visible to those who might support us.
Thanks Pastor Jay for sharing your heart for campus ministry, and the lessons you have learned with our community! To learn more about the ministry at Florida State University through the University Lutheran Church & Student Center, visit their website, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
Stay tuned for more leader and ministry spotlights to come soon! Do you know a leader that is doing great work in campus ministry that you'd recommend we highlight? Let us know in the comments below!
Do you need help with getting a campus ministry started? We’d love to connect you with a leader that can help you walk through that process. Send us a message through our website, or E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be in touch.