niche-finding: 18 questions about the present field

When a college ministry is starting, I think one of the first roles the founder should assume is explorer. I’m convinced that much about founding a successful mission to a campus (or to campuses) hinges on our understanding of the present situation.

(While I’m writing this primarily with new ministries in mind, it’s perfectly applicable to a ministry seeking to “branch out” into reaching a new campus or a new segment of campus. In each case, finding the mission’s niche is vital.)

One of the key groups you’ll be exploring is the ministries presently reaching students. So here are eighteen questions you might ask about the present ministries already on the campus mission field:

  1. How many ministries are presently reaching students in our context?
  2. How long has each ministry been reaching students?
  3. How many students does each ministry reach?
  4. How many students / what percentage of students are being reached total?
  5. How much ministry activity is duplicated among ministries?
  6. Are many students involved in multiple college ministries here?
  7. What niche(s) is each ministry connecting with best?
  8. What are the purposes, hopes, and goals of the various ministries’ leaders and supporters?
  9. What kinds of new ministry do present local college ministers think is needed most?
  10. Are there any areas in which student spirituality seems unhealthy or unbalanced?
  11. How well are students connecting to local churches?
  12. What theological streams are already represented within local college ministries?
  13. What ministry focuses are represented within local college ministries? (Evangelism, disciplemaking, worship, teaching, etc.)
  14. After spending extensive time on campus and among students, does this context feel under-reached by college ministries, over-reached, or neither?
  15. After exploring exhaustively, are there clear segments of campus not being reached well?
  16. After exploring exhaustively, are there clear areas in which many local students need better discipling?
  17. After exploring exhaustively, what kind(s) of college ministry are most needed here and now?
  18. If money, people, and other factors were no object, what kind of ministry would I hope to build here and now?

Written from Columbia, MO

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