Starting an RUF Ministry

RUF is Reformed University Fellowship, a ministry of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). We welcome students of all beliefs and backgrounds into our campus ministries, but these ministries are led by ministers ordained in the PCA. As presbyterians we see the church as organized on three levels: local, regional, and national. These are the congregation, the presbytery, and the General Assembly. As a ministry of the whole church RUF involves all three levels of the church. Here is a simplified explanation of how this works:

Local congregation: This is one of the PCA churches closest to the campus where the RUF ministry is located. The minister’s family are members here. This is where they and many of the students worship. The local congregation provides worship, fellowship, and pastoral care for those involved in the RUF ministry.

Presbytery: This is the group of churches (12-50) in a particular region. Presbytery provides the funds for the RUF ministry, calls and ordains the campus minister, sets the budgets for each campus in its area, and oversees the ministry. An RUF committee of presbytery gives close attention to these matters.

General Assembly: This is the national body of the PCA. The General Assembly elects a National Coordinator and approves a budget for the RUF national office. The National Coordinator then hires office and supervisory personnel to assist him in guiding the ministry. The RUF office receives donations, issues receipts, and pays salaries and expenses. RUF evaluates men regarding suitability for campus ministry and assists presbyteries in selecting men for their campuses. RUF also trains and supervises campus ministers. The placement and supervisory responsibilities are largely carried out by Area Coordinators.

There is a lot of overlap in these roles, and each level works closely with the others. But all parts of the church need to be in agreement before an RUF ministry can be established. If either the local church, or the presbytery, or the General Assembly office are unwilling to support a new ministry on a particular campus, it will not be started. This can seem like a complicated process, but we do this all the time. Our goal is to do more than reach a few college students. We intend to plant permanent professional ministries on our campuses which will reach students for decades to come.

It takes one year to install an RUF ministry. It begins in the September prior to the starting year, when the presbytery sends $5,000 to the national office to open an account for that campus. In the following months presbytery creates a budget, raises funds, and interviews and calls a minister. Meanwhile, the RUF national oversight committee considers and approves starting the new ministry. By March 15 40% of one year’s budget must be raised in cash, and ideally a campus minister will be called by early spring. New ministers begin their work on June 1. The official document explaining this process is here. A quick checklist of the vital actions required is here.

If you wish to start an RUF ministry on a particular campus, here are some steps you can take:

• Talk to your pastor. If you are not in a PCA church, talk to the pastor of the PCA church nearest the campus of interest.
• Talk to the chairman of the RUF committee of the presbytery in your area. If you don’t know who this is, ask the PCA pastor, the Area Coordinator, or the RUF national office.
• Contact RUF national. They will probably send you to your local Area Coordinator, but this is a good place to start.