the FOUR branches

Back in October, I blogged about adding another “branch” to my categorization of college ministries. Previously, I had always discussed three branches: campus-based college ministry, church-based college ministry, and the formal discipleship that takes place in Christian colleges. I realized, however, that the prevalence and distinctives of collegiate churches might indeed merit a new branch. (I go into more detail at that post.)

I got a lot of GREAT comments on that post – I really do encourage you to check it out, because it’s a great example of some people really bringing some smarts to bear on our field.

In light of their ideas and what I’ve continued to see, I have indeed begun to refer to Collegiate Churches as a fourth branch of college ministry. This is the first major departure / addendum I’ve made to my discussion in Reaching the Campus Tribes, but it certainly seems merited. (What do you think?)

I used these categories when providing a brief overview of the “wide, wide, wonderful world of campus ministry” for students at the Jubilee Conference this weekend. Here’s the slide I used in that portion of my talk, with pics from my various trips:

  1. Campus-based: The Baptist Collegiate Ministries at UNC is a denominational ministry, like many campus-based ministries. Obviously, other campus-based ministries are fully parachurch.
  2. Church-based: “The Annex” college ministry of First Pres Boulder is one of the largest college ministries (of any kind) in the country. (And it’s hosting the upcoming Ascent Conference for church-based ministries.)
  3. Institutional: Asbury College. (More and more, I’m liking the term “institutional college ministry” for those ministries at Christian colleges. Credit for that term goes to Guy Chmieleski (an institutional college minister himself), who provided a similar idea in the comments on that post in October. Still, I’m open to suggestions on that one (and on any of these!).
  4. Collegiate Churches: This picture is from the Sunday service of New Life Church at the University of Michigan, one of the larger collegiate churches out there. Like a good number of collegiate churches, it’s connected to Great Commission Ministries.

So there you go.

Any thoughts on this categorization? Remember, placing things in categories doesn’t suggest my agreement or preferences with any of ’em – just the reality of what’s taking place in the world of college ministry.

Also, do you have any thoughts on what I’ve titled the “fourth branch” here? In the past, I’ve tended to call these ministries “collegiate church plants,” but many of them are decades old – so “plants” might not apply so well. And the term “campus churches,” while fitting, seems to leave out the many collegiate churches that don’t actually meet on campus.


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  1. I like the categorization Benson, and I like the nomenclature. I do think collegiate churches are deserving of their own branch, because they really can’t be made a subset in any other group.

    Feedback I’ve heard from your session on Sunday has been great! You really nailed it!

  2. Benson,

    This looks good man!

    Thanks for the credit on “institutional”… although I now wish I had come up with something more creative! :)

    I do like Collegiate Church, as opposed to campus church, because many of the mega churches out there that have “satellite campuses” often refer to those sub-churches as “campuses” or campus churches. I’ve found some of the “campus pastors” or “campus ministers” on twitter to actually be pastors of these satellite churches – having nothing to do with college students or campuses at all.

    Good work!

  3. Good word, Guy. You’re right about the confusion with multi-site. That’s one of the reasons I use “college ministry” / “college minister” instead of “campus ministry” / “campus minister” – because the term seems to have been annexed by the multi-site discussion. And at this moment, that discussion has a lot more discuss-ers than we do. :)

  4. Because of the reasons you guys mention above, I’m beginning to see the rationale for switching from “campus ministry” to “college ministry”–though our many constituents in universities may feel undervalued :)

    I don’t think the multisite/multicampus convo is going away anytime soon. They stole our nomenclature. Oh well!

  5. Pingback: surprises from the journey(s) « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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