sister campus!

As promised, the Fridea! (Only one day late.)

Does your college ministry have a “sister campus”? What about a “sister ministry”? That’s this week’s somewhat crazy, out-of-the-box idea – one you could look to institute now or during the upcoming school year.

(All the Frideas are linked on the first Fridea post, if you’d like more!)

A sister campus would generally be a campus outside your normal realm of ministry – whether it’s across town, across the state, across the country, or even across the world. And like “sister cities,” having a sister campus provides an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship, a relationship that could end up pretty fruitful (and fun) for your own college ministry.

Below, you’ll find tips on how this “sisterhood” could come about, ways it could impact your ministry, and some final thoughts.

the how: how you might establish a sister campus

  • By proximity. This Fridea was in fact triggered by my new pals at the University of Arkansas Baptist Collegiate Ministry! It turns out they’ve developed a ministry relationship with John Brown University, an interdenominational Christian college about half an hour away. Are there any schools nearby that might allow for prayer walking, parties together, cooperative ministries, service projects, etc.?
  • By ministry relationship. When I was in Dallas, I hoped that one day we might connect with another campus on a mission trip powerfully enough to take that relationship long-term. That’s one example of how ministry could form a “sister campus” bond. Other ministry activities – of your students, of your church, etc. – could make the way for “adopting” a campus in a different city.
  • By random relationship. You never know, but a sister campus could pop up on you by surprise; it’s your job to make impactful use of the relationship! When I was in Abilene, for example, we saw several students transfer back-and-forth between Hardin-Simmons and the University of North Texas (a few hours away); that’s a potential chance to form a sister campus relationship. Or maybe your students will “catch” your passion for your own alma mater. Or maybe there’s a particular “fan contingent” within your group. Whatever the case, your sister campus might be sitting right under your nose – or right around the corner!

the giddy-up: fruit and fun from a sister campus

  • Community. Rallying around a sister campus – and maybe the more surprising campus the better – lets you do just that: rally! And it’s yet another helpful-for-community “inside joke” your students get to share.
  • Unity. One of the benefits, especially for ministries serving multiple schools, is that having a sister campus gives you a fun focus. For example, who better to cheer for when the NCAA Tourney comes along? Just imagine – every student you’ve got rooting for the same school. Pretty fun stuff…
  • Missions. One of my key observations this year has been the value of long-term missions relationships. You’d be surprised the benefits to your students in purposely loving any mission field (including a college campus) over a length of time. And how better to help students see their own campus as a mission field?
  • Service. Especially with nearby campuses, having a sister campus provides awesome opportunities to serve in real and lasting ways – outside the norm of ministering only in students’ personal little world.
  • Fellowship. What if you hung out with students from another campus once a semester? How fun would that be? And then you’ll get to preside at all kinds of inter-campus marriages in a few years!

final thoughts

  • Let God do the pickin’. For all the fun this idea can be, praying comes first! You don’t want to try to force a connection, right? (Be extra-careful about pushing your own alma mater…) And don’t rush it; “sisterhood” will come when it needs to come.
  • Sister ministry works, too. While I focused on the “sister campus” idea here, having a “sister ministry” – locally or elsewhere – could impact your ministry, as well. Plus, many of your connections to a sister campus will probably involve a ministry there, anyway.
  • On the receiving end… Don’t forget, the “sister campus” thing could even become a two-way street! How great would it be if your ministry at the University of Georgia (for example) connected with a ministry at the University of Wyoming (for example) for the next 10 years… trading mission trips, interns, T-shirts, staff, students, letters, pennants, teaching materials, lives, love, and food?*

*Food? How ’bout trading Taco John’s for Chick-fil-A?

Written from Colorado Springs, Colorado

One Comment

  1. Shelly

    Hey Ben, we have a sister campus… UTexas Dallas. We at MIT are really on the receiving end of the deal, though. As of yet, we haven’t given back to them.

    Basically, their BSM comes to Boston after their Fall semester is over, just in time for our Christmas outreaches with internationals… they bring a Santa suit (and a Santa) for our Christmas party, they basically DO the party for us, as well as many activities during the week.

    We’ve hosted them 2 years now, and as I was preparing for the second year, I thought to myself “this is just too much trouble”. But their students REALLY bond with each other. Their students help “man” our Christmas outreach table, usually partnered with a MIT student, and it really turns out to be a great week of mutual encouragement. Both schools are science/engineering type schools, so the students really do understand each other, and the Dallas students come from a larger campus ministry, so they are able to share ideas and stories of how God has worked on each campus. After their trip here last year, I saw how encouraged everyone was from both campuses, and I said, “we HAVE to do this again, this is powerful stuff”.

    How did we connect? Their campus minister and I worked together in Texas and have remained friends and the connection was really her idea… I’m so glad!

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