nuggets: it should be hard work

Today and tomorrow will probably wrap up the start-of-school series on what I learned during my first year of college ministry. But if it’s helpful, you can always point student leaders, adult volunteers, etc., to the whole series anytime at

You might have noticed yesterday that my first year of college ministry was pretty demanding – especially because I was taking a full load of college classes at the time. The requirements:

  • Leading and teaching at the Thursday night Bible study each week
  • One outside fellowship activity with our group each week
  • A training meeting each week
  • At least one meeting with my co-leader to plan for Thursday night
  • Solo preparation
  • Planning and participating in occasional “big” activities with our group
  • And skipping meetings – except for class or real emergencies – wasn’t an option

Not to mention the concern for the students – serving on their behalf in person, in prayer, and in whatever power the Lord provided.

I learned my very first year that the work of college ministry will often be – and should often be – hard work.

The very nature of most college ministry activity pushes our required toil to the maximum. We are, as I’ve argued, missionaries – with a strategic component and a recruiting component and an outreach component and a contextualization component not shared with most other areas of Christian ministry.

Those required elements for getting most college ministry activity “off the ground” can be a surprise to a student leader, and they can be a surprise to older college ministers, too. But the hard work is so, so worth it. And it’s worth calling students to this kind of hard work. Yes, we must respect their schedules and recognize their limitations. It also might take years to build a culture that supports asking for this level of commitment. (Texas A&M was and is rather freakish in this respect.)

But it’s worth working hard now and aiming for an environment where hard work is the norm – just as it’s already the norm for students serving in secular clubs or fraternities or sports teams or student government or romantic relationships or all the other places students are willing to commit to the toil.


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  1. Pingback: best-of-the-blog: training small group leaders « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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