breadth to the four winds

West

It’s surprising (to the rest of us) that an enormous number of campuses up and down the Left Coast operate on the Quarter System. That means college ministers are dealing with a quite different school calendar, have only eleven or twelve weeks in each period, and even need to shift their summer plans by a month.

South

It’s surprising (to the rest of us) how many college ministers in the South don’t personally raise their own financial support.

Bonus: It’s surprising (to the rest of us) that many church-based college ministries must have collegiate Sunday school (either because of their overseers or even because their students demand it).

East

It’s surprising (to the rest of us) that so many amazing, college-student-filled metropolitan areas with dozens of campuses can still be such difficult ground for college ministry work (especially when they have no “focus campus”).

North

It’s surprising (to the rest of us) that plenty of places across the North are perfectly comfortable with or receptive to Christian faith and college ministry work. There are good reasons that the very multi-campus Grand Rapids has been called the “suspenders of the Bible belt,” that the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities made the cover of Christianity Today recently, and that Moscow, Idaho (home of University of Idaho) reflects a very Reformed influence.

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What are the unique college ministry aspects of your region? (I promise, there are some.)

What college ministry aspects of other regions have surprised you?

What don’t you know about other regions’ and other circles’ college ministry norms? (That’s the question we can never answer – but it’s a great humility-catalyst!)

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4 Comments

  1. logsatm04

    Question regarding the South: Do the students “demand” it or does the church not offer adequate alternatives?

    Also, how much difference do you see across these 4 regions theologically, structurally, methods, etc.?

  2. Ben

    I gotta say, you wouldn’t know there is a difference in the regions until you move from region to the other. The North is like a utopia for Christian evangelism. Everyone will kindly listen and conversions seem so simple there. Then you come to the west and it feels like you run against brick walls all the time.

    What I have noticed though is how secretive campuses in the north are regarding things like drinking, sex, etc. People are good at hiding it whereas it seems more accepted in the West. People drink pretty freely here, where it would be looked down upon in the North. People don’t question opposite sexes living together, where it would be unacceptable in the North.

    Good points of view in this blog. =)

  3. Thanks, guys.

    Logan – for many church-based college ministers, they do run into students “demanding” Sunday school. (Obviously, this “demand” isn’t the same kind that comes from overseers, but it’s an expectation.) And lots of churches offer great – even much better – alternatives, but they still find some pressure to keep Sunday school.

    I remember a conversation with one strong church-based guy in the South who even had a building bought by the church near campus. He had done away with Sunday school (as many, many church-based college ministers would like to do) but had all the normal, solid stuff that college ministries tend to have. But he was considering reinstituting Sunday school – not because of his pastors (they were fine with the arrangement), but because of new students’ dislike of the setup. I run into that situation fairly regularly, although more often Sunday school is there because the church leadership requires it.

    Because so many southern students have grown up with Sunday school as a main component of the church experience, it’s hard for many to imagine not having it. Others (when they first enter college) might be willing only to “give God their Sunday mornings” – so they’ll certainly come to the church worship service, and they would have gone to a Sunday school if there was one.

    Obviously, some churches (like y’all’s, I’d imagine) have already fairly weeded out those kinds of students already, just because their church is especially “different” from the church they grew up in anyway.

    For your second Q: The real variance between college ministries takes place campus-to-campus, rather than region to region. But there are occasionally regional differences (like this post talks about). I don’t notice an awful lot of difference methodologically or structurally or theologically on the college campus – there ARE some major differences campus-to-campus and ministry-to-ministry, but not too often region-to-region as a whole.

    When there are, they likely come as a result of a large percentage of the campus being from that region and having the theological / philosophical leanings shared by that region. So in the world of college ministry, I suppose it wasn’t too surprising that the Jesus Movement started in the Bay Area, and it’s not surprising more recently that the West Coast also helped Four Circles Evangelism get popularized. The Northeast will likely lead the way in college ministries preparing students well for life after college; to me, it makes sense they would excel in that area, because of the campuses / focuses / smarts up there.

  4. here in the south it is harder to evangelize students because everyone grew up in church and has heard it all as opposed to other places I have been that seem to be more open to things since it it new and fresh to them

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