catalyzing college ministry creativity via new purposes

I got a pretty common question the other night during the Q&A here at the National Student Conference: “What kinds of campus ministry creativity have you seen?” As a result, we got to discuss one interesting way to generate creativity in our local ministries: occasionally aiming for less-common purposes.

Sadly, I have seen far less creativity within college ministry around the U.S. than I would hope to see. (I discuss that issue in Chapter 4 of RTCT.) But the creative methods I have seen often result from trying to achieve purposes that aren’t part of the “traditional,” everyday college ministry aims. For example, ministry activities with stated purposes of…

  • Helping the university itself achieve its own goals,
  • Creating dialog between non-Christians and Christians,
  • Discipling students toward really specific attributes (like accepting the adventures God throws their way),
  • Presenting a counter-cultural aspect of Christianity to the campus,
  • Teaching Christian students something they wouldn’t normally be open to hearing,
  • Reaching a largely unreached segment of campus,
  • or anything else we don’t see regularly in college ministry

…might result in some pretty creative methods. Why? Because unlike our normal (but clearly valuable) purposes – providing community, facilitating worship opportunities, certain evangelism and discipleship aims, etc. – there aren’t widely known “templates” for these kinds of unique purposes (yet).

So in the vacuum created by lacking common methods for achieving our purposes, ministers are forced to create from scratch. (Just make sure you share the results with the rest of us!)

I don’t intend to advocate “creativity” as an end in itself. While there are other ways to encourage creativity – and plenty of times where we don’t need to be “innovative” at all – it’s helpful to understand that unique purposes are a simple catalyst for unique practices. So if you do desire to be more creative, don’t make creativity your aim – but ask yourself if you’ve been open to unique (and even very specific) purposes God might have for your next ministry activity.

Written from University of Southern Indiana

Road Trip #12 update (Day 4)
yesterday’s T-shirt: the Buckeye tribe of The Ohio State University
Still at the NSC, which will end Wednesday morning. Then… trying to figure out what’s next. Please pray for that!

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for your work Benson. I was encouraged to be a part of the Q&A with you here in Evansville. I appreciate the voice that you’ve become for those of us in campus ministry. And many of us work so autonomously, that it’s more refreshing than you know to have a chance to glimpse the bigger picture.

    I appreciate that. Keep it up!

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