3 college ministry entities you should know

The last 48 hours have been pretty exciting, in large part because I’ve gotten to spend some great time with some great people. And I noticed that I happen to have encountered three groups that can truly be considered major, important, even historic elements within the field of College Ministry.

These groups are not “hidden gems” within the field of college ministry. They’re well-known, well-established groups that have had a major influence on the field of college ministry. But as I’ve found time and time again, we are often not familiar enough with even these major aspects of our vocation. So if you’re less familiar with these groups than you’d like to be, I encourage you to take a look – and even dig in deeper on your own.


In the future, when we have glorious things like college ministry history books, the triennial Urbana conference will be a major fixture – maybe even its own chapter. It was exciting to get a great tour of the national offices on Tuesday from national staffmember Eric Holmer – but all the more exciting because Urbana approaches! (Several employees are focused solely on Urbana during this time.)

A blurb from their web page (urbana.org) points to a glorious past and a vision that continues today:

Since 1946 InterVarsity has been providing a place for college students to see, hear, and respond to God’s global mission at Urbana conferences. If you want to see the world in a whole new light, come to Urbana 09. You’ll learn about critical global issues from dynamic teachers, worship with thousands in one of the most diverse gatherings in North America, and hear missional students and recent graduates testify to God’s faithfulness to the ends of the earth.

As someone noted recently, Urbana is so clearly connected to the heart of InterVarsity that understanding this conference really does help one understand its parent organization. But for us in the wider world of college ministry, it’s also important for us to realize that this conference is a rich part of our history. It clearly is, even today, the King of Collegiate Conferences. And not nearly all who attend Urbana are IV students and leaders; it’s wide open to any interested in learning of God’s global call.

You can read more about Urbana – even plenty about its great history – at urbana.org. Yes, it was historically held in Urbana/Champaign – but Urbana09 will be the second one held in St. Louis. Yes, you can still go. And I’m thinking about it myself…

Ivy Jungle Network

Many of you are well-familiar with IJ but, alas, I run into plenty of college ministers who aren’t. And their intro on the site (ivyjungle.org) really says all there is to say:

Welcome to the Ivy Jungle Network, a loose association of men and women who minister to collegians. We exist to serve church-based college ministers, para-church campus workers and college and university chaplains. If you work in campus ministry, then you should be part of the Ivy Jungle Network.

And you know what? It’s true.

Yes, it’s a loose association – the major “thing” to Ivy Jungle has simply been annual or biannual conferences over the last several years. But many college ministers also know the value of being on the monthly email list, and other items – like the large-scale Campus Ministry Survey – continue to inform.

But there is no better connection these days to the world of Evangelical college ministry than Ivy Jungle. It was a blast to sit down with Director Evan Hunter yesterday to hear more as IJ looks to the future – and continues to hope to advance the field of college ministry.

Great Commission Ministries

As far as I know, Great Commission Ministries is the one U.S. ministry with widespread work in collegiate church planting, and they’re on a whole bunch of campuses. Here’s one way they describe themselves on their site:

GCM mobilizes missionaries to serve in U.S. churches that are missional in nature: churches that do extensive outreach to the unsaved and unchurched, in a culturally relevant way. Our missionaries serve in churches that otherwise could not financially support their own staff.

While GCM certainly has some non-collegiate-oriented churches, collegiate church planting is a major pillar of what they do. The group has an interesting history; like some other things born in the zealous times of the Jesus Movement, it has had bouts with unhealth – which the group publicly acknowledges. But under what appears to be largely a second generation of leadership, GCM continues to plant churches and work to impact students all over the country – and some of their collegiate church plants have gotten really, really big. (I got to chat with Mike Filicicchia yesterday, who’s fundraising right now to join the staff of one at UMichigan.)

While I couldn’t find a full list of GCM campus churches, there’s a fairly good chance that any collegiate church plant on your campus is GCM – so you can always ask. The ones I’ve probably heard the most buzz about are New Life Christian Fellowship at VA Tech and New Life Church at University of Michigan (which I’ll be visiting this weekend). (They’re not all called New Life.)

written from the McCords’ in Palatine, IL (one of my great homes-away-from-home)


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Road Trip 13: Days 31 & 32 recap
recap: Chicagoland, including fun with friends and great chats with college ministry people
T-shirts: the Bulldog tribe of Louisiana Tech and the Cobbers of Concordia College, Moorhead
thursday: finishing up in Chicago, then on to Ann Arbor! (see all explorations so far)


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