I believe I first outlined my classification of the “three branches” of college ministry in a post way back in February 2008 (written only a few hundred miles south of here, during the yearlong road trip). I had variously referred to those three branches before and since, including in my book:
- Campus-based college ministry (including parachurch, denominational, and independent ministries centering their activity on the local campus)
- Church-based college ministry (ministries overseen within individual churches)
- Spiritual development at Christian colleges (the specific people or departments in Christian colleges dedicated to student discipleship, often called “spiritual life” or “chaplaincy”) (from Reaching the Campus Tribes, pages 17-18)
Those branches are distinguished, in my mind, by a few major things:
- Campus integration (the connection of the ministry to the college campus, including where it centers its activity)
- Oversight (who tends to hire, govern, and evaluate a ministry’s leaders)
- Function (the way the ministry operates and “feels,” particularly to students)
- Field reception (the lines the college ministry community has tended to draw between these areas)
While any of these factors might be clearer or fuzzier for an individual ministry, I do feel they fairly well delineate between the various branches. So using this terminology has been really helpful to me.
But as I continue to explore and ponder, I always want to be open to tweaking my approach! One question has especially led me to consider adding a “fourth branch” to my classification (it’s the first question listed below). But while I’m at it, I figured I would ask for further input. So if you’ve got any thoughts on these things, please fire away!
The big questions:
- Collegiate Church Planting is a major strategy employed on a significant number of campuses. Should it be considered a fourth branch of college ministry, or does it fit better under one of the present branches?
- Should campus-based ministry be split into two branches: denominational / church-related and fully parachurch?
- Should ministries run entirely by students be considered a separate branch of college ministry?
- What’s the best term for Branch #3? “Spiritual development at Christian colleges”? “Chaplaincy”? Something else?
- Any other adjustments you would make to this system?
Please feel free to weigh in – I’d love to hear your thoughts, arguments, questions, additions, or concerns!
written from my 7th Motel 6 in 9 days (in Vallejo, CA)
Road Trip 13: Day 9 recap
exploring Cal State Chico, and then down to the Bay Area
T-shirt: the Fighting Illini of University of Illinois
today: Stanford and other Bay Area fun