The Two Challenges of Student Work in 2020 (GS Letter Mar 2021)
Two days ago on 27 March, FES had its 63rd AGM (hybrid) at the FES-GCF Conference room and Zoom. With the consolidation of reports and accounts of 2020, I now prepare the ministry and myself to consider the priorities of student ministry for the next five to ten years.
To begin this season of strategic thinking for student ministry, we look at a snapshot (table above) of the current state of FES student work. This is not the most accurate of data collections in the hybrid context of the ongoing pandemic, but a mere sensing of the students and CFs which we serve today. Two points to raise from this data:
We have a growing presence now in the private campuses, such as JCUS, PSB, NAFA, and LaSalle. The profile of students from these campuses is significantly different from public universities and thought must be given to ministering in these campuses.
We served fewer students last year. One reason for this is because of the drop in the number of international students whom we used to host and minister to (about 50–100 of them) through our International Friendship Groups (IFG) and host families. Also, less formal and informal opportunities to publicise the CF around the campuses last year have limited our reach to new students.
From the AGM report on 2020, two common challenges were shared. The first challenge regards the changing context of ministry as schools and society undergo rapid and enforced digitalisation. This has affected everyone in unique ways, not only the youths. Therefore, FES must be well-aware of the impact that this rapid digitalisation will have on our campuses, churches, and society, and be ready to witness and disciple effectively in the context of this digital reality.
The second challenge regards the need to embrace and be equipped to minister in a reality where mental and emotional wellbeing is now of critical concern. This involves preventative, sustaining, and even healing measures. FES is well-aware of the complications that come in managing and ministering with and to people who struggle with wellbeing issues. Yet, FES should strive to minister amid such vulnerability and not apart from it.
Ministry in this digital and wellbeing reality are just two strategic priorities of FES for the coming years. In the months to come, I hope to elaborate more about the changing contexts of student ministry as staff workers and students themselves step into this season of strategic thinking. On that note, I share with us three upcoming events for prayer:
National Student Council (NSC) Seminar on 3 April. This is still the season for student leadership renewal. The NSC seminar is an opportunity for present leaders to bring their successors to meet one another, to experience the larger body of student ministry in Singapore, and to start thinking about the future of their CFs.
FES Staffcon (Staff Conference) from 5–7 May. Staffcon is an opportunity for the staff to meet together in one place after a year of enforced work-from-home. It is also the time for staff to think strategically about the future of FES and student ministry in Singapore.
FES-GCF Commissioning service on 24 April, 1.30 pm–2.30 pm at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. This service will mark the handover of the FES and GCF leadership to Jeremiah and Michael respectively. Invitations will be sent out soon. Please keep Michael and me in prayer as we continue to navigate this period of rapid transitions.