then we’ll have two books

I have heard this concern more than most other concerns from college ministers on this trip: We have very little available to help us college ministers “stand on the shoulders” of those who have gone before us. That includes a lack of Collegiate Ministry books, which, though not the only means of transferable methodology, certainly have the power to impact like little else.

I suppose “Collegiate Ministry books” is a relative idea these days. On the one hand, there are ministry books in abundance. We can easily find tomes about preaching, youth ministry, church polity, and the like. The newest focus, church models, has received attention in works like Purpose Driven Church, Simple Church, The Second Reformation, Organic Church, and on and on. The book tables at the Ivy Jungle Conference were filled with hundreds of different books, many of which have been found useful to college ministers.

Presumably (not too presumably, ’cause I’ve seen it done), you can adapt principles and even methods from all kinds of ministry works to specifically Collegiate Ministry. You could probably build a “purpose-driven” college ministry, for instance, or look at some broad “house church” principles in building collegiate small groups. Youth Ministry books admittedly provide some methods we can use, and books on church leadership probably make good reading for collegiate leaders, too.

So there are “books for collegiate ministry” in that sense, but they often require significant “tweaking” to work. But where are the books to help us know how to apply such principles to collegiate tribes? Or to tell us what works – or doesn’t – when you try? Where are the Collegiate Ministry theories? The models? The ideas? The methods? The arguments? I need the help!

In speaking to a new college minister friend here in Birmingham, the point was made – once again – that we don’t have much. Having just arrived in our Collegiate world from that of Youth Ministry, he had quickly noticed the lack. You can find plenty discussing Youth Ministry, he said, and for Children’s Ministry or even for Senior Adult Ministry. But looking for something on our field? Good luck!

[On a side note: Clearly, this minister doesn’t see Youth Ministry as anything near “the same thing” as College Ministry. That’s true! I personally would argue that many Missiology books (or speakers, or seminary classes) would have more to offer for Collegiate Ministry than many Youth Ministry books (or speakers, or seminary classes) would. But that’s a blog for another day.]

The same lack-of-books concern came up at Ivy Jungle, where the passionate Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds Books talked with me about the dearth in this area – and he would know if such things were available. The conference passed out the only widely published comprehensive book I know of, The Fuel and the Flame. And one book has been released that, believe it or not, speaks of a true collegiate ministry modelThe Blueprint. I haven’t read it, but I will. Regardless of what I end up thinking of the model, I’m just excited somebody’s writing!

But it’s not particularly healthy to have only a tiny offering available, because we need different points of view to help with balance, and to help us think. My hope? That within the next 10 years, many more Collegiate Ministry works will be released.

Three publishing trends encourage me: books on Christian higher education, books on Christianity on the campus, and books for college students. These indicate a closer literary focus near the actual field of Collegiate Ministry itself. And, when it comes to Christian colleges, those schools’ ministry to their students is Collegiate Ministry; I’ve certainly realized on this trip just how much we in campus- and church-based college ministries can learn from this “third branch” of ministry to students. So some of those books could be more applicable than we assume.

If you feel like it, please pray to this end – that Collegiate Ministry books would be written, or that our field would advance however God might see fit over the next years.

The book-famine is just on my mind today because it has come up several times in the past week. Yes, there are a million forces against any “College Ministry publishing revolution” becoming reality. The lack of priority given to our ministry field and the presumed lack of sales of any related book create a pretty lethal one-two punch, for sure. But maybe some ministry-types out there, even some reading this, will be led to write some books. I’d like to write something, too, at the end of this crazy trip.

And maybe if I write a book on Collegiate Ministry that’s heretical enough, somebody famous will have to write a rebuttal. Then we’ll have two books! Hooray!


  1. Greetings Benson. Hope you are doing ok. I was curious as to the passing out of the Fuel and the Flame at the Ivy Jungle Conference. Did everyone get one? Was anything said or promoted regarding the book when it was passed out? Was the audience familiar with it? thanks. steve

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