A few years ago at an Ivy Jungle Conference seminar I attended, one college minister was discussing his own church-based ministry and what he’d learned along the way in ministry. He talked about lots of things, I’m sure, but the item that most stuck with me was his attention to… well, attention.
He noted that across his years of college ministry, he had learned that a big part of his job had to be bringing attention – within the church itself – to the work being done among college students. While it may seem “base” or awfully “secular” to use basic “PR” methods, the college ministry’s viability depended on somebody, anybody, caring about their work.
Whether we like it or not, budget, volunteers, and other key needs tend to be rather directly proportional to the relationships we have with our “public.” So PR – which simply stands for “Public Relations,” remember – needs to be a part of what we attend to as Collegiate ministers.
[Yesterday, I wrote some concrete ways you could practice some simple “relating with your public.”]
In our case, all PR usually means is “advocacy” or “testimony-sharing” or “keeping people informed.” But in some way or another, we’ve got to “get the word out.”
If we don’t, even the best college ministries – whether in churches, on campuses, or within the hierarchy of a Christian college – may find themselves at the bottom of the priority list time and time again.
We college ministers rarely have the advocates other ministry areas might have.
- Youth Ministry has its parents.
- International missions was long ago (rightly) understood as vital.
- Worship music and preaching have automatic visibility.
- Lots of ministry areas bring in more moolah to a church, presbytery, or denomination than college ministry does.
So what’s a minister to do? Relate to our public.
Yes, we can certainly overplay the PR hand. Ultimately, we have to trust God for the support, impact, and opportunities He wants to provide. Those who count on human promotion will wind up disappointed even when they relate to the public like a PR pro.
Yet God has often used stories and in-your-face pictures to call people to His service. A child hears missionary tales from a woman in strange garb and imagines living one day in that foreign land. A college student’s pulse quickens as he sits under vigorous preaching. We tear up at a 30-second commercial and donate to hungry children halfway around the globe.
And why do you think so many church college ministries start when a pastor’s kid starts college? Relationship, right?
So maybe this idea can unlock one more area of ministry for you to explore, like it did for me a few years ago at that conference.
Need some ideas to start? You can find some in yesterday’s post!
Written from Alpharetta, GA