when campus emphasis meets campus ministry impact

If you learned that on your next mission trip overseas you would encounter a high concentration of tribe members in one profession, how would you prepare?

One of the cool college ministers I’ve been able to meet on this trip is Aaron Friesen, College Pastor at Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church in Riverside, CA. The church is situated right by California Baptist University, but like many church-based ministries, they connect with multiple campus tribes. Aaron and his boss, Mike Lovato, wandered with me among the Highlander tribe of UC Riverside, and at some point I asked what UCR’s emphases might be.

Afterwards, Aaron did a little research and was nice enough to send me what he found; it turns out that UCR is, among other things, strong in Business Administration, and it has one of the “Top 100” LGBT chapters in the country.

This past week, I got to visit UNLV. One of their focus areas quickly became clear – and, if you think about it, makes a lot of sense. (Can you guess what it is?)

That’s right – the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration sits on campus in a cool building that actually seems to resemble an open-air hotel lobby. Yes, he was the founder of those Harrah’s casinos. And it’s not surprising for University of Nevada, Las Vegas, to specialize in that area.

So here’s my question: How often does college ministry impact connect with campus emphasis?

What might it look like to have specific studies for Business majors? Outreach to LGBT members, and others in that community? Discussions about Christian hospitality on a campus interested in the hospitality industry?

Clearly, there are some niche ministry efforts in our field. But I’d argue that there aren’t nearly enough. We might find that by going “deeper” in reaching single communities, we might just have the chance to reach more students, reach them better, be ultra-relevant to our audience, help students connect their future vocations with Jesus, integrate with the campus itself, directly “invade” dark places (when campus distinctives fall into that category), and more.

So have you ever brainstormed / prayed through that idea, picking some unique aspect of your campus and dreaming about intersecting it with Jesus? This could be an official (or unofficial) emphasis, a strength, a weakness, even its location or love for a certain sport.

Try it – even with some zany areas – and you might stumble upon something exciting. (And be sure to let me know!)

Meanwhile, have you seen any interesting niche ministries?


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written from Cedar City, UT

Road Trip 13: Day 22
recap: catching up, hunkered down in southern Utah
two brief campus visits: Dixie State College (#14) and Southern Utah (#15)

T-shirt: the Owl tribe of Temple University
monday: I begin 24+ hours of driving in 3 days, with some explorin’ along the way (
see all explorations so far)


  1. Mark Warrington

    Ok, so this is a funny one.

    One of my college students is a member of the Nerf Club on campus (Nerf as in those guns that shoot the little foam projectiles). Yep! They meet every other week for three hours and have nerf war tournaments. Well, they were banned from playing in one of the rooms on campus, so we decided to host their tournaments at our gym at the church. They have been coming regularly and this is a fun way for me to interact with them…and may I say release a little tension?!!! :) This is definitely a fun way to connect with students in niches!

  2. Mike Armstrong at Christ on Campus at the U of Arkansas has had a consistently strong ministry to the track team (at it turns out, UofA’s track team is world-renowned).

    He also has a hobby/ministry (in the best sense of the combination) of officiating track meets.

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