pondering with a prof

Yesterday meant a one-day trip from Baton Rouge down to New Orleans for one of the most enjoyable opportunities of this trip so far! Dr. Allen Jackson, Professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, had invited me down there, and he took me and some other college ministry-types to lunch (at Superior Grill, no less). Besides getting to meet the President of NOBTS, Dr. Chuck Kelley, and eatin’ some scrumptious crawfish enchiladas, I got to spend a few hours talkin’ college ministry with those guys and gals – and got a mini-tour of NO on top of all that.

Dr. Jackson is a well-known youth and college ministry prof, and among his other jobs at NOBTS, he oversees the four classes on collegiate ministry. (That’s impressive already, since few seminaries seem to offer that many separate courses in our field. One of those classes even covers the history and philosophy of collegiate ministry!)

I figured you might be interested in what came up in the conversation as we jumped topic-to-topic. I coulda spent hours more and didn’t have time to ask nearly enough questions, but it was still a blast spending the time with Dr. Jackson and three other “students of collegiate ministry.”

So here’s a quick round-up of our major topics, brought up through questions asked, stuff I noted I’d seen on this trip, things Dr. Jackson stated, etc. (If there’s been a relevant post on Exploring College Ministry, I’ll put that link, too.)

  • The importance of collegiate ministry (and whether people realize that). We were wondering aloud whether the average churchgoer understands the moral “free-for-all” taking place on our campuses. But that’s not the only reason for college ministry; the campus is also a place of remarkable creativity, energy, passion, commitment, availability Impacting the campus connects that vitality to Jesus-life. Impacting the campus touches the future, without a doubt. And impacting most campuses touches the nations, because international students populate our campuses in scores. (My first specific post on the “dark side” of campuses is here.)
  • The crazy variety of college ministry “scenarios” and environments. Church-based college ministries. College towns. Campus-based ministries. City-based ministries. Commuter campuses. Metro settings and their dozens of campuses. Parachurch ministries. Denominational ministries. Churches where college students only come in the summer. Churches that have no students in the summer. Churches with two different populations in the school year & summer. Church-parachurch cooperation. Other “outsourcing” collegiate ministry models. Collegiate church plants. Big colleges. Tiny colleges. Christian colleges. Campuses extremely restrictive to Christian groups. Campuses extremely open to Christian groups. And more. (I’ve started talking about some of the particularly unique models I’ve seen: here and here.) The variety we face probably means we need to discuss more than only methods, instead doing our best to derive principles that can be applied across multiple scenarios.
  • Strategy for reaching campuses. In light of a billion possibilities, what’s the best missiological approach? Boy, this was a fun part of our conversation. Maybe there’s not one best way, and maybe everything needs to be “on the table” for discussion. (Not everybody would have liked our ponderings at this point, but we’re not afraid to swim in the deep end!)
  • Missiology? We chatted a bit about how college ministry might be a whole lot like missions, and not just another segment of “church education.” That’s right, I said it. Missiology. Maybe, just maybe, a college ministry isn’t just an “older youth group” after all!
  • Denominational campus-based ministries. There’s meant to be a difference between parachurch ministries and those campus-based ministries that function as “an arm of the church on the campus.” But that’s not something everybody in church ministry understands or appreciates… And, on the other hand, how much this “arm” functions in that way can differ from campus to campus, too. Interesting stuff.
  • Social justice, compassion ministry, or whatever you’d like to call it. I’m learning more and more about this area of ministry. And thinking this through isn’t just about answering what we need to do, but why we need to do it; there are multiple theology aspects in this area of ministry. That’s not a bad thing, but it means we’ve got work to do. (I mentioned this briefly back here.)
  • Churchmanship. That’s right, I used the word. It’s a great word. And it’s something college ministers, youth ministers, parents, church leadership, and others have to help our students understand. (My discussion on this started way back with the Church Dropout Study post, and then one of my favorite posts and the follow-up.)
  • Cooperation between ministries – including between campus-based and church-based. One of the tougher questions in college ministry, right?
  • Studying collegiate ministry. Just ask a college ministry prof – it’s not exactly easy to find textbooks these days. (I posted about this recently.) But we got to chat about what resources can be used for training, plus thinking through how seminary education can best prepare people for this amazing area of ministry – even if it means being creative in a degree plan!

Quite a few topics, eh? There was more discussed, too, but that’s a pretty good sampling.

After the lunch & tour (which included seeing Katrina damage and the restoration that’s begun), I got to hang out at Tulane University. A great campus tour given by Corey, BCM Metro Director (which included meeting the Head Athletic Director). Dinner with a student I know, Emily. And then the road trip to Hattiesburg. What a day.

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