10 Reasons I’m Thrilled to Join RUF @ Mizzou

Hey Everyone,

A life update: two weeks ago, Brenna and I drove out to St. Louis, where we were commissioned as missionaries to the University of Missouri through Reformed University Fellowship. Yay! We’ve been waiting for a call to college campus pastoral ministry for 8 years, and it’s surreal to see the Lord giving us the desire of our hearts.

Here are ten reasons I’m so excited by this opportunity:

1. RUF is a natural outflow of my story.

During college, I dug deeper into the questions every human being asks. My brother’s death two weeks before my departure led me to question all of the classic theological answers to my questions about God, evil, eternity, etc. At the time, I didn’t have anyone on campus to draw me to rich theological resources for answers, so I left the church for 4 years.

By God’s grace I was hired back into the church, but obviously that won’t be most students’ story. When I look at the sea of students at RUF Mizzou, I see stories that can take a different course than mine.

2. The university is a strategic place for world missions.

Imagine one central location where people from every tribe, tongue and nation flocked with the express purpose of learning truth. That’s the university – I get the opportunity to speak the gospel to over 35,000 students at Mizzou who come from countries all over the world. During our visits to RUF Mizzou, we met students from Russia, Asia, and all over the United States. How exciting to think of the ways God will use them to reach the nations for His glory!

3. The university is a strategic setting for hearing truth.

I’ve been encouraged by the sheer number of believers who’ve told me they came to Christ through a college ministry, and, it makes sense: you’re uprooted from patterns that have established your worldview, and you’re seeking truth on your own. Statistics support this as well: People are 15x more likely to become Christians in their college years than afterward (of course, God loves to beat the odds).

4. RUF prepares students for the long haul.

I love that RUF’s gauge for success is not how many students we have in our weekly large group, but rather how many of our students are faithfully attending a local church 10 years afterward. Having been in youth ministry the past 8 years, I’ve seen way too many youth and college ministries blow their numbers by sacrificing the content of the gospel…only to be stunned by their attrition rate afterward.

5. RUF is both deep and wide.

Despite the fraternizing and partying, I’ve found deep down most college students are looking for someone to tell them the truth. RUF emphasizes on commissioning men with theological training (an M.Div is required) for this very reason: they want people equipped to answer student’s hard questions with rich theological content.

6. RUF is a clear pathway to diversity in the reformed world.

The group at Mizzou is notably more diverse than the PCA churches I’ve been in, and that’s the future of the reformed church. College is an opportunity for students to step out of their comfort zone, and thus a most excellent opportunity to pursue God’s plan for diversity in His church.

7. RUF trains students for cultural transformation.

RUF purposefully avoids stacking the schedule for students with events. It also avoids spiritualizing being a missionary/campus minister/pastor over and against other callings. RUF emphasizes that doing your homework is an act of worship itself, not merely something to get out of the way to do “real” ministry. That’s a recipe for bright young minds filling workplaces with excellence, truth, mercy and justice.

8. RUF is the biggest highway into reformed theology.

To paraphrase Tim Keller, RUF is currently the biggest inroad to the PCA that exists right now. Why? See reasons 2-7!

9. RUF provides world-class leadership development.

As my area coordinator likes to say, RUF is the “Special Ops” of campus ministry. As campus ministers, we receive world-class training multiple times per year (last summer’s intensive was done by Tim Keller), and we invest that training into our interns and student leaders. As one member of a nearby church told me, just about every clear, thriving, disciple-making spiritual leader in his (large) church is a product of campus ministry.

10. We are perfectly wired for RUF Ministry at Mizzou!

As we’ve pursued our call to RUF, the journey has been tough. But each time the road ended, we’ve looked each-other in the eyes and said: “What can we do with our gifts that will allow us to look back and say, ‘We haven’t wasted one second of what God has given us?’ The answer is always the same: RUF.

I whole-heartedly believe this is the most important ministry going on in the world right now, and I’m beyond honored to join the ranks.


Of course, if we’re going to make this journey, we’ll need to partner with YOU to see it happen. As our first RUF partner family said: “This is our way of going along with you.” Exactly!

So this is my personal invitation to set up a skype/lunch/coffee/google chat/phone-call/e-mail exchange with me to talk about RUF: nick.mcdonald@ruf.org

And here’s my invitation to partner now, and ask questions later!


(Type in Nick McDonald in the search field – I’m considered an “intern” right now).

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Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.


  1. This sounds like a wonderful fit for you and Brenna, Nick. But what happened to moving to San Diego?!

  2. Great question Tim! And the answer is…I have literally no idea! But I’m glad to be close to family at a school full of aspiring writers.

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