At this past weekend’s CollegeLeader Conference, the topic of organic campus ministry seemed to come up quite a few times. So I figured I would (organically) take that opportunity to introduce the next entry in the College Ministry Poles series!
I doubt there are too many many college ministers who actually camp fully on either side of today’s spectrum. I think most of us would say, “We need to have both sides.” But college ministers do seem to vary widely on the degree to which they lean one way or the other. And further complicating matters is the fact that what we argue for and what we do may differ. So this entry really asks,
Should a college minister lean more toward organic development or systematic development?
As usual, I’m hoping for some great thoughts on this one (see the questions at the bottom if you’d like some specific prompting!). But first, it might help to define what “organic-leaning” or “systematic-leaning” might look like in our world. But these are just generalizations or even “guesses”; I’d love for you to add your own thoughts in the comments!
organic-leaning college ministry
- More concerned with responding to the day-to-day opportunities than to somehow “organizing” for the future
- A premium on allowing space and time, so relationships / discipleship can develop naturally
- Programs often occur as an outgrowth of relationships
- High premium placed on students taking ownership of the ministry
- Recruitment may be a major concern but might not seem to “fit” the organic nature of this ministry. In some cases, it may not be a focus at all, or may happen primarily through word-of-mouth and one-by-one relational connections
- Connections (both leaders-students and students-students) will likely be decentralized; it might be more difficult to help students progress to deeper modes of discipleship
- May be harder to determine measurable success
systematic-leaning college ministry
- Considers organizing for upcoming ministry very important
- A premium on creating activities and moments, so relationships / discipleship can develop purposely
- Relationships often occur as an outgrowth of programs
- Still may place a high premium on student ownership, but it might be “given” to students rather than “taken” by them
- Recruitment, like other aspects, will likely be planned and programmed
- Connections (both leaders-students and students-students) will likely be centralized; it might be harderr for connections and ministry to develop outside the bounds of the established systems
- May be easier to measure success, but may also be easier to assume “success” based on poor measures
Those are some defining aspects I thought of, but I would love those to be enhanced, corrected, or otherwise adjusted!
And here are some other questions for consideration:
- How would you define “organic” collegiate ministry – or its opposite?
- Where do you fall on this spectrum in your thinking? Do the actions in your ministry bear that out?
- Which direction do you think college ministers generally need to move on this spectrum? Are we more often “too organic” or “too systematic”?
- How would you argue your position – or train a new campus minister to approach this work?
see the other entries in the series, including people’s great comments, right here
written from Riverside, California
Road Trip 13: Day 15 recap
got to feeling sick, so largely took the day off. kinda nice.
T-shirt: the Lions of Columbia University
today: Riverside, then on to more central Los Angeles (see all explorations so far!)