Returning to the series on Ten Big Ideas that could potentially transform a college ministry, we arrive at number 6:
Beware unhealthy ministry.
This one is funny-lookin’ because it doesn’t seem like it would be all that transformative for an individual college minister to begin purposely guarding against bad college ministry.
But I do honestly believe that our students are in danger from unhealthy ministry on a pretty regular basis. If we get serious about that aspect of shepherding – the part where we keep the sheep safe – we truly might see some great things happen. Or we might see some bad things not happen. Either way, we’ve changed things… and that’s what transformation means, right?
As long as Collegiate Ministry as a field remains underdeveloped, we need to be concerned about the ever-present danger of unhealthy ministry itself. Historically, not all college ministries have been backed with good theology and/or wise practices – and the results have been famously disastrous.
Unhealthy ministries can attract large numbers, can be well-financed by supporters, and are often zeal-producing among leaders and students. We all know that students long to belong, lack the wisdom of years, look up to seemingly knowledgeable authorities, and often hunger for spiritual experiences… so they can easily be drawn to ministries that ultimately harm them.
In other words, you and I could probably be cult leaders if we really wanted to be. But assuming you’re not planning on taking that tack, we honestly do need to be ever wary of cult activity on our campuses. While there are plenty of other unhealthy types of college ministry, extreme cults are obviously a first concern.
While it may be easy to say, “That could never happen here,” what if it did? All cults do start somewhere, and college students make great recruits.
I don’t ever want to be a shepherd who didn’t guard my flock against the wolves.