big ideas for developed campus ministries

The subject line was the topic for my seminar yesterday at the National Collegiate Summit, and I promised the attendees (and a few other friends) that I would post my notes! So hopefully this will benefit all…

(I’m posting in outline form, with some snippets or links where applicable. I fleshed these out with examples – and hand-drawn pictures! – during the talk.)


  • My yearlong road trip (interested? read here about that)
  • All these thoughts are still a work in progress, as I continue to process thousands of pages of notes from the trip.
  • While these ideas might be especially applicable for developed ministries, it never hurts for newer ministries to consider these things, too.

Preface: College Ministry as missions

  • I’ve discussed this general idea at length in this blog and in the book.
  • But for this “big ideas” discussion, three aspects matter in particular:
    • Like missions, college ministry is very contextual, so big ideas won’t fit everywhere and, when used, must be adapted.
    • College ministries should work to make aggressive progress, “encroaching upon the darkness” more and more as God allows. So we shouldn’t be complacent but should look for areas to improve.
    • BUT college ministry should also be strategic and wise – no innovation just for innovation’s sake! I offer these “big ideas” simply as possibilities.

Idea #1: Bless the campus.

  • We should consider whether we are as fully integrated into the campus as we can/should be. (This applies to both campus-based and church-based ministries!)
  • Would the campus – including its faculty, administration, non-Christians, other ministries, etc. – miss us if we disappeared? Are they excited we exist? Does the administration brag on our ministry as a positive thing about their campus?

Idea #2: Extend your influence to pre-freshmen and post-seniors.

  • Things appear to be quite dire at both transitions: from high school to college and from college to the young adult world.
  • What if we took responsibility to share our wisdom, resources, training, shepherding, etc., with high school seniors in some way? (Obviously, this would be in cooperation with youth ministers, parents, and others.)
  • What if we did the same for the year after students graduated from college?

Idea #3: Be an entrepreneur.

  • There have to be more creative ways to draw funding, use real estate, etc.
  • In some locations, ministries have created self-supporting endeavors that minister to students and pay for themselves.
  • Some creative uses of real estate I’ve seen include student dorms or discipleship communities, restaurants, coffee shops, study libraries…

Ideas 4 through 6 tomorrow. [Here’s that post!]

Written from Goodlettsville, TN
Yesterday’s T-shirt: the Boilermaker tribe of Purdue
Campus visit: Lipscomb University (#3 for the trip)
Church visit: Fellowship Bible Church, Brentwood, TN (#1 for the trip)

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