Posted by: Justin Wallace | April 12, 2010

Living missionally…

Consider this a type of brain dump…

This is an issue that I have wrestled with since I started working with college students. It’s an issue that I could argue both sides of. It’s an issue that I’m not sure there is a right answer to. It’s an issue that I hope you’ll share you thoughts on. So, here we go…

I’m sure you are like me…we have students that live with non-Christian/un-Christians. Some of them live in close proximity with their roommates…sharing a room the size of a closet with two twin beds. When they arrive on campus they begin sharing a tight space with a person that they didn’t know 24 hours before.

Now…here’s what I want to talk about…

Sometimes these relationships work. They become life-long friends. They just mesh.

But sometimes…they explode. They are un-healthy. They make for long semesters. Long nights. Late nights. And lots of stress and anxiety.

I have students who have roommates that come in at 4am completely drunk. They come in loud and obnoxious. They wake everyone up on the hall. They have zero respect for their roommates.

I have students who have roommates that invite their boyfriend/girlfriend to spend the night. They have sex in the same room. When asked to not do this they respond with an attitude and say they feel judged and condemned.

Once a student has this experience they have a decision to make.

Do I continue living in this situation and try to live missionally…showing Jesus to the person that lives right next to me…my neighbor?


Do I get out…move on…move in with a group of Christian friends so that I don’t have to deal with this mess?

I struggle with this decision. I struggle because I want to teach my students to live missionally…to befriend people who need Jesus and who have messed up lives. I want them to rub elbows with people like this.

But I also don’t want them to live in unhealthy situations.

But I also don’t want to create a Christian safe-house.

But I also don’t want them to be surrounded by life-styles that might pull them down.

But I also don’t want them to only have Christian friends.

Do you see my problem?

Do you feel the tension?

Have you experienced this war?

I have no idea what to do with it. I think I try to respond on a situation by situation basis. I try to encourage my students to be missionaries in the world that God has placed them, I try to teach them how to live differently and how to create a world where heaven is colliding with a world experiencing so much hell.

I am constantly amazed that Universities, RA’s and Resident Director’s turn a blind eye and deaf ear to so many unhealthy life styles. It makes my gut hurt. It makes me boil with a holy anger. I believe it is oppression in so many ways. And I want to teach my students to bring freedom to places of oppression.

What are your thoughts?

What has your response been to similar situations?

How do you encourage your students to live missionally?



  1. Missional – Isn’t that really taking personal ownership not for my mission, but His mission? In John 15:16 – I have chosen and appointed you to bear fruit – fruit that remains/lasts (earlier, This is to my Fathers glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples). Matt 28:18-20 defines the mission. We are to make disciples of all nations. As leaders, we need to do a heart check – does John 15 and Matt 28 burn in my heart? Am I a disciplemaker who is making disciples? Am I committed and participating in making disciples, walking with them exposing them to passages like those above and entrusting them to the Spirit of God who will make them into disciplemakers who are making disciplemakers and thereby showing to the world that they are Jesus’ disciples. Does this vision permeate my leadership team? Does this vision live and breathe through our student leadership team and with every student who becomes a believer.
    Jesus – John 17:20 is praying for each of us in this process..
    A proven encouargement tool in this process is Master Plan of Evangelism by Coleman.

    Diagnostic questions? How would I, our leadership team, our student leaders, new believers, our students describe what is the mission? Where are we in line with the Lord Jesus’ mission above and where do we need to trust the Lord to make changes in our hearts? If the Lord Jesus prays for each in this process, then in grace and mercy we can choose to pray for each other.

    This guy who blazed the trail ahead of us understood and lived it out… many during this period packed their bags inside a coffin as they were sent out…….

    C. T. Studd
    English missionary to China, India,
    and Africa
    Some want to live
    within the sound
    of church or chapel bell;
    I want to run
    a rescue shop
    within a yard of hell.

  2. […] On missional college ministry: Justin Wallace asking gutsy Qs about college students living missionally… and wisely. […]

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