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2023/6/9
Forum of Campus Ministry Held to Face Challenges and Seek Solutions

Taiwan Church News

3717 Edition

May 22 ~ 28, 2023

Headline News

Reported by Chiu Kuo-rong from Taipei
Translated by Peter Wolfe

The unsuccessful election and failed ordination of the pastor for the Taipei Student Campus (Ministry) Center in March 2023 by the Central Standing Committee of Chi-Hsin Presbytery sparked many discussions among the PCT churches and its affiliated communities. To care for the development of the PCT campus ministry related to this issue, members of the PCT Evergreen Fellowship, PCT members and some pastors formed the “Caring Association for PCT Campus Ministry”.

On May 20, a seminar in northern Taiwan was held at Dong-Men Church of Chi-Hsin Presbytery. About 40 people attended the meeting. Discussion topics of the seminar include: current challenges of campus ministry, the new model of campus ministry in response to social changes in Taiwan, and the role that Evergreen Fellowship can play in campus ministry.

Moderators of each session are: Associate Professor Wu Jie-ying of Taipei City University and an Elder of Gui-San Church of Hsinchu Presbytery; Associate Professor Chen Liang-quan of National Taiwan University and an Retired Elder of Tian-Mu Church of Taipei Presbytery; Assistant Professor Chang Tze-chien of TransWorld University and an Elder of Er-Lun Church of Chiayi Presbytery.

Rev Tsai Cheng-dao, pastor of Suan-Lien Church of Chi-Hsin Presbytery, said that during his service at the Suan-Lien Missionary Strategy Research Center of Tainan Theological College and Seminary, specific questionnaires were sent to 19 PCT campus center co-workers across the country in 2013. The analysis of those responded questionnaires showed several difficulties, which still remain up to date.

First of all, campus ministry workers believe that outreaching campus missions are very important, but about 90% of their time is spent on mentoring fellowship members in student centers. Second, campus ministry workers mainly counsel Christians, and only about 17% of their time is spent getting to know students outside their familiar Christian fellowship. Third, there is a lack of proper communication channels and cooperation between the campus student center and the PCT local churches. How the PCT campus student center can help the church, or how the church can assist the college student center, is rarely discussed between college workers and the PCT local churches.

Analyzing the data and predicament at that time, Rev Tsai said that overall the fluidity (registration and graduation) of students on campus ministry was a main challenge. He expressed that though every year new students were flooded into the college, but people should note that much more students didn’t knew much about the gospel.

Rev Tsai said that campus ministry co-workers were not only frustrated when sending off the old bones, but also felt like Sisyphus to start all over again when the new students arrive. However, he reminded the audience that Jesus only served three and a half years on earth, so campus ministry co-workers still have hope to do the things right. The key lies in choosing the right method, and that is to learn the way of Jesus.

The findings also point to a severe shortage of manpower as another dilemma. At present, there are about 150 colleges and universities in the country, but there are only 20 campus ministry workers, and such ratio is glaringly incredible!

The imbalance of ministry focus is also a problem. The importance of campus evangelism is widely recognized, but most of the time is spent on counseling fellowship students inside college student centers, because college workers must communicate and advise Christian students first. When students encounter emotional difficulties, they need a lot of energy to accompany and time take care.

In addition, insufficient resource supply was also a major problem. College student centers are often in financial trouble, and campus ministry co-workers must travel around local churches to raise funds.

The study also found that campus ministry co-workers are highly fluid. At the time of investigation in 2013, there were only nine campus ministry workers with a tenure of more than five years, which meant that the personnel instability was very high. And such a high degree of personnel fluidity did have a great impact and hindrance on the development campus ministry.

Rev Yao Gen-jen, director of Taipei Campus Student Center, shared the students’ observations about their own anxiety for the future. Today’s college students are busy applying for graduate studies and even doctoral programs, and at the same time they have to deal with the pressure of internships required by the school. In order to enhance their own competitiveness, many students choose to take the license exam while having to spend time working to meet their financial needs. These students are overwhelmed with various secular affairs and therefore put their fellowship and faith as the second place in life. Therefore, campus ministry workers must think about how to help students strike a balance between faith and studies, lest they lose themselves in their existential anxiety for the future.

Rev Yao Gen-jen pointed out that many students expressed indifference in the PCT’s stance towards Taiwan society because it did not match with their personal concerns. However, a faith group like the Evergreen Fellowship can see Taiwan society in a different light, so in the Evergreen Fellowship, college students can learn how to face social difficulties and challenges in a balanced way.

Rev Yao Gen-jen witnessed that her faith in college days was a turning point in her life, which made her rethink the values of life and the meanings of Christian action. During her four years of college, Kaohsiung Campus Student Center did plant seeds of faith in her heart and broaden her horizon to engage the world.

However, Taipei Campus Student Center is currently facing a very difficult situation. The PCT local churches hope the quality of students and the number of fellowships to increase and ascend up, but these expectations could not be realized overnight. And this hasty demand misleads local churches to question the effectiveness of the PCT campus ministry. Rev Yao emphasizes that campus ministry needs time and patience. She hopes local churches can understand and support a steady growth of campus ministry and work hand in hand with the dedicated co-workers.

Elder Wu Jie-ying said that members of Hsinchu Presbytery are now signing a petition bill for the PCT campus ministry, and the bill will be submitted to have Hsinchu Presbytery’s support in the coming general assembly held in July.


Submitted by:Taiwan Church Press
 
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