Posted by: Justin Wallace | August 5, 2010

Here’s what she has to say…Jenna Wright

I wanted to give the ladies in our profession a chance to voice their experience. So, I asked our (Impact Charlotte) new full-time female staff member (Kristen Craig) to jot down a few questions that she would ask a veteran female campus minister. This is Kristen’s first year as a full-time female staff member and the following posts is full of thoughts and advice from the ladies who have been reaching out to the University campus for years. Today we’ll hear from Jenna Wright, Campus Minister at Christian Campus House at the University of Central Missouri.

*Here’s what Gretchen Magruder had to say & Here’s what Rachel Charley had to say

# of Female Staff in Ministry

2

Brief Job Description

I always laugh and struggle with this question.  It’s hard to describe a job where each day is so different from the next.  I would say the part that remains consistent is that as I pursue God, He enables me to minister to the young ladies and help guide them in their faith journey as they seek to know and encounter God.

Why I do what I do

There are times throughout the year that I have to ask myself this same question.  Campus ministry can become emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually draining.  At least once a year, I encounter a week where I just want to throw in the towel and walk away.  But, during those times, when I can look past my own fears or frustrations, and see the bigger picture of what God is doing – I am completely humbled to be a part of it.  We have the opportunity to step into 4 years of what I consider a pretty critical time period in a person’s life.  I made some important life decisions while in college, and I am so thankful for my campus ministers in how they helped guide and direct me and challenged me to seek God through it.  Looking back, I grew so much in my four years of college and learned more about Jesus and what it meant to be His disciple than I did the first 18 years of life.

We have the opportunity to send missionaries out into the world.  Every year at our senior banquet, I don’t see “X” amount of seniors.  I see “X” amount of missionaries – that want to go and revolutionize our world.  Individuals that are willing to take Jesus into the schools, business world, health services, etc. – individuals that understand that God is writing a much bigger story than we can ever imagine – and they just want to be faithful servants of Him within that story.

Who do you disciple, what do you “do” in discipleship, and why?

Who I disciple has been a constant struggle and process for me, but in the last few years I have mainly committed myself to girls within our leadership team that serve as interns or community group leaders.  I have realized that if I am doing a good job of mentoring these ladies, that they will turn around and pour into the younger girls.  I will also meet with 3-5 girls outside of leadership –  ones who need that little bit of extra encouragement and accountability.

My time with the girls includes prayer, accountability, talking through their faith questions and what God is teaching them, and sharing what God is teaching me.  How that plays out is completely different with each girl.  Sometimes that’s through a Bible study, book study, or life conversation.  I also try to connect with them in an environment that they feel comfortable.  My meetings often take place in a coffee shop, out on the road while we’re running, at my house, in a fast food joint; wherever it is that puts them at ease with conversation.  I will also call girls to come join me as I am going about my day to day activities.  I enter into their lives and also allow them to enter into mine.  A lot of times some of the most honest and open conversations come from these “unplanned” meetings when we’re just living life together.

I think it’s important to pray with them and for them.  I believe that girls need to see prayer that praises God and seeks God.  I have seen a lot of growth come from accountability.  Jesus had the most amazing balance of truth and grace – and that’s something that I strive for.  Girls need and want to know that you care enough about them to ask the tough questions and hold them accountable.  I like talking about their faith questions because I want girls to know it’s okay to have questions – and often times it’s wrestling through them that growth and a better understanding of God occurs.  I try hard not to hand them answers – but allow them to go through the process of seeking, thinking, praying – self discovery will make a more long term difference than me handing them answers.  I also seek to know what girls are learning, because I want them to understand that our faith journey is a constant process.  And, I think, or maybe hope, that there is some wisdom and insight passed along to the girls when I share what God is teaching me.  (This all sounds fairly structured in writing – I don’t go down a check-list in meetings.  At some point, all of this happens with the ebb and flow of conversation.)

How do you describe a successful year of ministry?

If there is spiritual growth by the end of the year, then I think success has occurred.  Sometimes that growth happens in very visible ways, like a girl surrendering in baptism.  Sometimes that growth isn’t seen by others – but through conversation, I know that a girl is beginning to process her faith more intentionally.  It’s a success if girls are striving to see the world and people through God’s eyes, which ultimately should change how they think and interact with the world and people.

Starting in ministry… what is one thing you wish you would have known/ What is one piece of advice you would give to a beginning female staffer?

Allow this year to be a year of learning.  Take time to get to know the other staff and their families.  Take time getting to know the girls and their stories.  You won’t know how to guide and minister to a girl until you know her and her story.

Take time to learn about your campus and how it operates.  Observe and learn, observe and learn!

I wish I would have known how much spiritual attack I would have encountered.  I wasn’t expecting it and sure wasn’t prepared.  Talk about those things and be open if they happen.  I lived in a lot of confusion and even began to doubt if what I was committing my life and “career” to even really mattered.  I found myself telling girls a lot of things that I didn’t know if I truly believed.  And, I was too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it; not realizing or connecting how hard Satan was trying to crush me.

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Responses

  1. Jenna, you are such an encouragement. Thanks for all you’ve done for me the past year. Every conversation with you brings me more hope and direction, God is truly using you in amazing ways. Thanks for the blog post!


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