College: Spiritual Graveyard or Spiritual Greenhouse?

The Vision

I love math…  And when I was a child, I fondly remember these math problems with “inputs” and “outputs.”  Sometimes, these problems were even depicted as number factories – one number goes into the factory and a totally different number comes out.  My task was to solve the mystery of what happened at the factory.

Bringing this analogy over into the college environment, when a young adult – maybe even your son or daughter – goes to college, what do you expect to be the output?  A career-qualified graduate?  A mature, socially-conscience civil citizen?  A debt-ridden twenty-something?  A hot mess?

Unfortunately, college often gets a bad rap.  In some Christian circles, it is seen as a spiritual wasteland.  Parents fear for their child’s faith when they leave the nest.  And while there are some spiritual hazards on the college campus, it really is a tremendous institution of learning and can be a place of incredible growth.  

Beyond professional job-training though, what if God redeemed and expanded our vision of college?  What if God has fashioned the college environment into something that can produce relevant, winsome, Christ-centered, gospel-sharing individuals?  What if the “output” for universities was laborers for God’s kingdom?

Imagine every Christian graduate being, as a friend of mine put it, “a missionary disguised as a ______.”  A missionary disguised as a teacher.  A missionary disguised as a doctor.  A missionary disguised as a ballerina, etc.  What if God raised up a wave of spiritual leaders for His kingdom from among our nation’s college students?

They would spread out afterwards to live life with their lost peers, uniquely positioned for life-changing ministry; they would speak the same language (ie, professional jargon); they would think similarly and have similar interests; they would be in the same neighborhoods and companies; yet in all arenas of life the LIFE of Christ would radiate outward, arousing curiosity in the hearts and minds of these laborers’ loved ones – opening doors for the good news of Jesus.

The Day-to-Day

As Navigator staff, Lexi and I are trusting God to do such a work through our ministry at Indiana University.  This vision is our target – to see God mold college women and men into passionate laborers for His kingdom who will multiply Jesus wherever they go.  To see laborers next door to everywhere.

And while this vision is BIG, it often starts small; we meet one person at an event; then, we grab have them over or grab a meal; we get to know them and become a real friend, not with some hidden agenda but with a love that fuels us to build them up and desire more for them.  But, it all starts with ONE.  As Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”  

Therefore, a key component of our ministry is one-on-one discipleship.  We come alongside of college students one-by-one, helping them to know how to walk with God, share their faith, and invest in others.

It is an incredible privilege to get to be involved in the lives and challenges of college students – and “to help them know Christ and make Him known” along the way.  

If this vision piques your interest, please do not hesitate to contact me <>.  We send out monthly email updates, and we are always looking for people to partner with us both in prayer and financial support.

Brian & Lexi Buffington have been serving with The Navigators for 10 years and have been directing the ministry at Indiana University since 2012.

Brian and Lexi met during a Summer Training Program with The Navigators while they were in college.  At present, their family consists of a 3-year old son named Caden and a 9-month old daughter named Zoe.

Their family loves to walk to their neighborhood park, eat international food, play, and laugh.