Through partnership, individual groups have a chance to get “bigger” together. But through niche ministry, groups have a chance to target smaller pockets of students – with the hope of better impact among these pockets.
Yesterday, I mentioned several forms of niche ministry. But there are literally ONE BAJILLION possible niches on our campuses. Here’s the mathematical formula:
# of population segments of the campus tribe
all possible areas of student discipleship
That means we could build niche ministries focused on…
- sharing biblical financial principles… among business school students!
- one-on-one mentorship… with the officers of student organizations!
- writing daily devotionals… for sorority girls!
- discussing spirituality in the movies… with Arts majors!
- fighting for social justice… with pre-law students!
These may seem like pretty specific ideas, but if you think about it… there’s potential there, right?
Certainly, not all niche ministries will be this specific. But even a college ministry focused on worship gatherings or a ministry that only targets freshmen accomplishes something unusual. Getting specific – “going niche” – allows a ministry to go deeper rather than broader, building an expertise that might not be found in ministries with wider aims.
Many “niche ministries” might take this approach from the beginning of the ministry, as an individual or group feels called to a particular segment of students.
But niche ministry can also come about organically from within “classic” college ministries. This happens when ministries gain inroads with particular groups of students (or find opportunities in one spiritual area). So even though an established, “classic” college ministry might not abandon its general discipleship, they can still take advantage of any niche possibilities God might reveal.
I would love to see what would happen if numerous churches, campus-based ministries, and even individuals “adopted” segments of campuses they felt called to reach. I would also love to watch as others got super-serious about excelling in particular areas of discipling students.
Of course this practice, like so much in college ministry, is paralleled by some of our foreign missions work – as missionaries sometimes seek to reach particular segments of populations or to reach cultures through very particular avenues.