more filters for determining what’s next

How can a college minister sift through all the available “new ideas” they’d like to apply to their campus ministry? Monday, I reflected on how overwhelming it can get, and yesterday I threw out a few of the ways I might identify the “nexts” for a college ministry. Today, a couple more.

And I’d love to hear any others you’d add to the list!

4. Exegeting the situation

Sadly, very little priority seems to be given to vigorously learning the campus, its community, and other factors affecting the work. But I’d argue that steps toward better understanding our situation should receive heavy consideration for our list of nexts, whether our ministry has just begun or has been around for years.

In a way, this is just more of yesterday’s barn-building idea: Stronger cultural exegesis will positively affect every other play we run in the future. Or, to say it negatively (but perhaps a little more motivationally): Most of the moves we make will have lower impact than they could have had, until we get to know our situation better. Yikes!

5. Culture-building

Another reason to bump an idea higher on the priority list is if it helps develop the culture we believe our college ministry needs to have. Matt McComas touched on this idea in his comment on yesterday’s post, regarding deepening the spiritual sensitivity of his group. But many different characteristics could be so embedded in a college ministry as to be a true part of its culture or “DNA” – we just can’t pick everything!

The reason this makes for a good next is that the culture of a ministry will “rub off” on new members for years to come. So in these areas, a ministry will have a head start of sorts – each and every semester – as new members are nearly “automatically discipled” by the culture itself.

The point of all this

These five points are meant to be helpful filters as you sort through all the potential ministry-adjustments that come your way. Of course, God may lead you to other nexts through different means. But I do urge you to keep in mind some wise criteria for sorting all the good ideas into “next” and “later” piles. That way, you won’t be as easily distracted by methods some other ministry has found effective, that cool new ministry method you just heard about but haven’t had time to digest, or any other good-but-not-next idea.

But with filters on your mind, you’ll also be ready to notice the ideas that would make for great nexts but might be easily ignored (a lot of great nexts won’t come in flashy packages!). As you keep in mind the filters of barn-building, situational exegesis, removing barriers, and other criteria, you’ll have an easier time zeroing in on the very best nexts for your college ministry.

Any other filters you’d add to the list?


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  1. Pingback: thinking through your college ministry’s nexts « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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