The last few days were some of the more invigorating in recent memory, and they encouraged me immensely about the future of college ministry… particularly if seminaries will play an active role.

Here is one reason I liked those 9 hours of attending, teaching, and otherwise participating in Beeson’s Campus Ministry course so much. (Hopefully this will make sense.)

1. I believe better collaboration is one of our biggest needs in college ministry.

2. A college ministry seminary course is indeed collaboration (Q&A, group discussions, etc.).

3. But it’s also “collaboration-plus”; it’s collaboration that is directed by experienced “practitioner referees.”

The professor is a practitioner, and he or she can therefore infuse wisdom from their own experiences into the discussions. And that’s usually the bounds of everyday collaboration; college ministers share with each other whatever wisdom and ideas they might have.

In an academic class, however, the teacher also regulates the collaboration activity. So the class is not only composed of people sharing with each other and hoping fruit will result; it’s people sharing with each other along a purposeful path.

A seminary course has “practitioner referees” other than the prof and guest speakers, as well: the textbooks and any other readings. The authors, like the professor, give their own input on college ministry practice, but they also provide a framework for making sure discussions go somewhere.

So through both the teachers and the readings, a seminary student receives wisdom from true authorities on the subject (presumably). That’s a bonus all by itself, since most of our collaboration opportunities can’t be with true “experts.” But students also have those authorities guiding the learning/collaborating process. Double bonus!

Collaboration of all kinds can be helpful. But collaboration in this way – in a way that seminary courses provide – is certainly a helpful addition to our field.

At least that’s my hypothesis. We’ll see how it plays out over the next week… I’ve left Beeson, and Asbury is next up.

Written from Goodlettsville, TN (in the Nashville area)

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