thinking through your college ministry’s nexts

Monday, I noted that we, as college ministers, are not supposed to incorporate each and every good idea we “collect.” How could we? Part of the art of being a good college minister is knowing the many, many things we shouldn’t do.

One of the major themes of that post was that we need to pay attention to what our ministry needs next, not just “what our ministry needs.” The latter list could be 100 things. The former may be only a few. It’s not only easier to focus on doing what we need next, it’s far wiser.

So I figured I would suggest some of the things that can help us discern our NEXTs, whether the college ministry is newer or well-developed. When I meet with college ministers to discuss their campus ministries, these are the sorts of the things I’m focused on. And I’d love to hear other additions you’d make to this list!

[Read the rest of this topic on the next post.]

1. Barn-building for upcoming quarters / semesters

The idea of “barn-building” involves focusing on goals that will help you reach other goals. (Between the choice of building a house first or building a barn first, you should build the barn – because the barn helps you build the house!)

As you examine all the “good ideas” you’ve received, would incorporating some ideas make others easier to achieve? The barn-building ideas become prime candidates for going first. This principle can affect which ministry teams you start next, the order of your teaching lessons (and which lessons you choose), which students receive the most focus, staff you hire, or other “good ideas” you might be considering. Which ones provide the best foundation for all the others?

(If it helps, you can read more about the barn-building idea here!)

2. Barn-building for the ministry’s long-term success

Other helpful nexts might be initiatives that will lay a foundation for the ministry’s stability and vitality for the long haul. In your context, this may mean helping your supporters and overseers see the value of what you’re doing. Maybe it means strengthening relationships on campus. It might be establishing a Board of Advisors or tightening your fundraising engine. Will some of the “good ideas” you’re considering provide a payoff for years to come?

Sometimes this part of barn-building won’t “feel” mission-critical. But you should at least consider which activities are good nexts for building a strong-for-long campus mission. Over time, a little investment in these things up front could bring enormous dividends.

3. Dealing with barriers

It’s also pretty important to deal with any areas that will keep your ministry from being what it needs to be. Often, this may show up in spiritual issues – for instance, if the ministry lacks a culture of integrity or commitment. Just as in individuals’ lives, moral failure or simple immaturity can keep a ministry from God’s full blessing, harm a ministry’s witness, and grow into even larger problems later on.

But other barriers or potential barriers might be apparent, too. These can be as practical as having a small meeting place or as obvious as having a bad reputation on campus. Whatever the case, dealing with barriers may be a pretty good next.

I’ve got 2 or 3 more good “nexts” ready to go tomorrow, but what do you think? When evaluating all the options for “innovations” and “tweaks” and “new ideas” and “good things,” what are good filters to help college ministers decide what comes next?

[Read the rest of this topic on the next post.]


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  1. I don’t know if this answers your question or not. But I have a couple of thoughts. Recently when we’ve done evaluation of the CCC ministry at Montana State University we basically asked these questions; What should we keep doing? What should we stop doing? and what opportunities can we seize? We apply those ?’s to a variety of contexts and put them under the glare of the overarching vision. This helps us discern next steps and what we need to stop doing so we can do the better things.

    One other thought is that recently the majority of the next steps we’ve needed to take at MSU have been related to setting a better spiritual environment amongst our ministry/student leaders, etc. Things related to having a soft heart toward the Lord, bringing sin into the light and living before a Holy God in brokenness have come up. This next step has moved up the food chain priority wise because of the value it infuses into everything else we do.

  2. Benson Hines

    That’s definitely answering the question! Good wisdom.

    I really appreciate you pointing out that ideas-to-stop is on an equal plane with ideas-to-incorporate. Too often the latter receives almost all our attention, and we stop things ONLY to make room for new stuff (or when an epic fail takes place).

  3. Pingback: 10 more quick reads on campus ministry evaluation « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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