a match made in boston

Howdy, friends! I mentioned last week that I’d gotten to see several interesting College Ministry models the last few weeks. Today, I begin the run-down, with a short review of one of these models – and the things I find interesting. I’ll do similarly for each.

Please don’t forget the disclaimer: My interest doesn’t equal unqualified support, for any ministry, church, etc.

Campus Crusade & Park Street Church, Boston
1 church impacting two dozen campuses

Campus Crusade & Park StreetI got the awesome chance to sit down with Tammy McLeod, Campus Crusade for Christ Boston Metro Director, in my last days in Boston. Even before I arrived in New England, I knew I’d try to explore Cru – not only because it’s a major collegiate ministry in a major metropolitan area, but because of its unique partnership with a major Boston church. Plus, it’s always an honor to hang with a long-term pro in our field…

If you know Boston, you know Park Street Church has “held the line” of evangelicalism for their 198 years, unlike so many of the old Boston churches that are now Universalist (or whatever). Interestingly enough, Park Street sent the first Protestant missionaries to Hawaii and held the first performance of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” The church is right in the midst of Downtown – just look for the looming building right by Boston Common, after you take the Green Line to the Park Street stop. You know, the next time you’re in town. (Read more about Park Street and their history.)

Hopefully you also know that Campus Crusade is one of the premier campus-based collegiate ministries in the world. (Read about them and their milestones.) In Boston, Campus Crusade is known as Real Life Boston.

Apparently about 13 years ago, some rather creative, open-minded leaders (at both Park Street and Campus Crusade in Boston) worked out a partnership between the two. In this partnership, Campus Crusade actually is Park Street’s undergraduate collegiate ministry.

What does this all mean?

  • The Real Life Boston Director (Tammy McLeod for the past 9 years) serves as an unpaid ministerial staff member and truly functions as part of the church staff.
  • Park Street donates a large amount of money toward the mission of Crusade on Boston campuses (but, in this case, not toward Campus Crusade staff member salaries). As throughout the Crusade world, Boston’s Cru staff members raise their own support.
  • The church has also made available an awesome “ministry house” in an excellent area near Harvard. Several staff members live there, and it’s a great place for ministry (or for being interviewed by people on year-long road trips.)
  • Students who choose to attend Park Street, then, have Crusade small group opportunities at their schools during the week and opportunities in the life and classes of the church, as well.

The benefit for Park Street in this cooperative model is that they have a huge part in reaching at least 2 dozen campuses – for less financial cost than filling 2 church staff positions. Because nearly 40% of Park Street’s attendance is students, reaching all these students’ campuses might be difficult, indeed, without some sort of partnership. (The large number of student attendees is not because the church is “super contemporary” – it’s not – but because it’s in Boston.)

Campus Crusade benefits from the funds (and house) it receives, but also from the ties to a well-attended, solid church. Further, the church cooperation highlights and allows for easy “church assimilation” for Crusade’s students in Boston.

My notes:

  • As Mrs. McLeod noted when we met, a model like this requires the church be not “high control.” You’re certainly not going to be developing your “own” college ministry or setting its course – Campus Crusade for Christ has that charge. Nor will every Crusade student (or staff member) end up at your church.
  • Apparently, Park Street has a pretty unique take on all sorts of ministry, especially as it involves cooperation and building up the Church universal. Examples include sending about 40% of their funds to overseas missions and seeking to build up other local churches (rather than planting churches themselves).
  • Crusade leaders work hard not to alienate those Park Street students not involved in Crusade. As student receptions are held in the first weeks of each semester, for example, collegians are introduced not only to Crusade but to InterVarsity and Navigators, as well. Students not involved in Crusade can still take part in the church’s ministries, classes, and so on.
  • A focus on “doing what you do best” seems to be a part of the foundation for this model. The church provides the many glories of the Body of Christ to students. Meanwhile, as longtime “experts” in the field of collegiate ministry, Crusade focuses on the discipleship of students. As we met, Tammy even noted she was thinking about asking the church to “take over” a particular portion of Crusade’s usual schedule, simply because the church might have better experience and resources for that area of ministry.
  • I enjoyed seeing Tammy’s love for the model – as we talked, a real appreciation for this partnership became clear. It’s fun when I find experienced ministers who truly love not only the work but the strategy involved!

So there you go. Model number one. This isn’t a comprehensive review, and I recognize that, but the various models I describe might get ya’ thinking. Plus, if you ever want to know more, just email me or post a comment! I love talking about this stuff!

Obviously, my understanding of any of these models comes from my point of view and the info I receive. If I’m wrong about anything, let me know! Meanwhile, don’t expect too much in the way of personal opinions just yet – my own thoughts on college ministry are being (in some small way) put on hold this year as I learn-with-charity.

As with all of the models I bring up, probably the worst thing we could do is take this model as a “package” and try to apply it too quickly to our own contexts. If you like this model, great! I hope we can all learn from it, so as to apply its strengths brilliantly to our personal mission fields (called campuses).

And if you don’t like it, that’s okay, too – at least we’re all thinking about college ministry. Plus, you’ll have lots of other models to think about soon enough.

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