I mentioned several weeks ago that college ministry might just serve as the “R&D” (research & development) of the Church, and I’ve been thinking about that idea ever since. Here are some thoughts.
We who serve college students connect with individuals (and their entire generations) when first “released into the wild” – after the buffers and balances of high school and family life. That means we’ll always be on the cutting edge of where culture and Christianity are going – for good or for bad.
If Christendom will make college ministry a priority, it can serve as our “future-looking engine.” By the time students graduate (each year), we’ll already have a head start in understanding better what our churches, difficulties, and potential will look like for the next several decades.
Or, another way to think about it:
If pastors and other Christian leaders want to know about the following “future of the Church” areas, it is college ministers – more than anyone else – who have been dealing with this stuff for a while now. If these topics are part of Christianity’s future (again, for good or for bad), there is one segment already well-versed in them… college ministers.
- Using digital media of all kinds within ministry settings
- This generation’s use of Facebook, blogs, and other networking tools
- Navigating the important discussions of social justice, environmentalism, the new atheism, tolerance, and other “hot topic” issues
- This generation’s appreciation of “vintage” and “depth” and the key role they play in ministry
- This generation’s desire for authentic community, transparent leadership, team-based opportunities, and adventure
- This generation’s love of multiculturalism
- The many opportunities the Church will have with this large, passionate, optimistic generation
I hesitate to offer examples because they can so quickly grow outdated – that’s the nature of our fast-moving world, and it’s why we need exceptional R&D in the Church. The examples will change in 2 years and 5 years and 20 years. But the truth will remain: The first ministers to get the clearest look at the shape of things to come are those serving college students.
It’s our chance for some amazing R&D.