I often think about key signposts I suppose could indicate that college ministry is developing as a field of ministry. These include basic accomplishments like:
- More books discussing college ministry, including both broad and specific themes
- More focus on college ministry in seminaries
- A journal or magazine devoted to college ministry
- A greater number of college ministry blogs
- A number of solid, well-attended college ministry conferences
- Through these and other means, much more collaboration between varied groups and types of college ministries
Occasionally I even have the chance to encourage these things to happen – like meeting today with a seminary professor to discuss potential college ministry training at his school.
But as I ponder these things and discuss these things, the same caveat pops up in my mind (and, because I want to be honest in my discussions, sometimes this caveat pops out of my mouth, too):
We college ministers haven’t proven to be learners, by and large.
We (rightly) complain about the lack of learning resources. It’s a shame that publishers haven’t seen fit to publish much on college ministry. It’s really disappointing that seminaries can focus so much on Youth Ministry but often give College Ministry nary a glance. And so on.
But if they did – and if a publisher put out an academic journal… or a known, respected entity set up an awesome conference… or lifelong college ministers made themselves available for collaboration – how many of us would participate? How many of us would buy (and read) the books? Or read the blogs? Or take the classes? Or make the very most of the conferences?
Right now, we don’t seem to be doing any of that to a large extent. So with all this learning-apathy, how likely is it that resource-producers will invest in providing us with more?
Yes, sometimes the availability of resources reminds us that there is learning to do, creating a tension that pushes us to learn more. And it’s also important to recognize that some present resources / opportunities haven’t been as useful as they could have been – so it’s no wonder we don’t dive into those.
But there should be, even with a gap in the resources, a much bigger learning-yearning among us than there is. Of all ministers, we serve in a setting that should train us to learn – not only because it is itself a learning environment, but also because it is hard, and we aren’t making the progress we should, and the stakes are so high, and the potential glory is so amazing.
College ministers, let’s be learners. (And tell your friends. Because many who most need this encouragement probably aren’t reading this blog post, either.)