recounting the history of your college ministry

As I noted in a recent weekly review of campus ministry discussions, Logan Gentry of The Austin Stone Community Church has been posting a history of their church’s college ministry on their blog. In that case, it’s a brief recap of major events, changes, and decisions in the life of that young ministry. (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

In my most recent Research Road Trip, I had the chance to go rather in-depth with several Chi Alpha ministries, including asking Campus Pastors about their chapters’ histories. But I ask about college ministry histories a lot, and college ministers have reflected that this “recounting” is a rare (and helpful) experience.

Do you see your college ministry as a campus mission, complete with its own history of development, achievement, struggle, provision, and adventure?

If your ministry truly can’t be viewed that way… well, that’s another post for another day.

But there’s a good chance yours does have a history worth remembering (even in the grumpy points). Whether your ministry is 100 years old or 1 year old, is positioned on campus or established through a church, has seen dozens of leaders or a few (or only one), is humongous or small, there are a million reasons to research and reflect on its history.

Our college ministry’s history should give us insight into places of strength and weakness in our ministry, any “trajectory” God wants to show us, principles for further growth, areas where we’ve left our moorings, changes that have had particularly helpful (or harmful) effects, and pointers for the future. It might expose us to new sources of wisdom (like particular leaders from the past or activities that were particularly fruitful). It might really encourage us, even by reminder of the great acts of God. It might humble us, too.

But what’s more, God wants to be glorified by the story of a college ministry. And we have some part to play in that glorification.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works!”
–Psalm 105:1-2 ESV (the intro to a psalm that recounts history)

Whether it’s ever published by IVPress or not, your campus mission can and should be a glorious missions story. When’s the last time you considered your history?

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