you have the power (and the time)

Just a happy summer reminder:

You have the power to grow in your college ministry skills and broaden your college ministry understanding this summer.

All it takes is sitting down with other college ministers.

Don’t just ask them for methods, and especially don’t only ask them about the methods you’ve been thinking about for the past two weeks.

Go bigger. Go broader. Ask them about the history of their ministries, the present structure of their ministries. Ask them how students progress (or are supposed to progress) through their ministries. Ask them what purposes they’re aiming for.

Ask the best idea they’ve tried recently. Ask the best idea from the last year that didn’t work.

Ask if they’ve noticed any trends – in spiritual talk, in spiritual needs, in spiritual “fads,” in student issues, in campus issues.

Ask them how they’re impacting the campus as a whole. …and how they’re serving, evangelizing, having fun, building community, teaching, doing small groups. Ask them the books that have most impacted their ministry, the speakers that have most impacted their ministry, the conferences that have most impacted their ministry, the blogs that have most impacted their ministry, and the people that have most impacted the way they do ministry.

And if something interesting comes up, it’s okay to follow the story. Unique principles, odd structures, interesting histories – this is the stuff of a really fun interview.

Finally, don’t you dare only consider visiting those in your circle (denomination, national organization, loose network, etc.). The time for only intra-circle learning is past.

If trips (even mission trips or Student Projects or other “official duties”) take you elsewhere, make time to meet with college ministers on those trips. (Surely you – and even students with you – can spare a meal, can’t you?) Otherwise, ask local… or semi-local. A good 2-day road trip is room for a few meals and a few coffees and some substantial, perhaps even ministry-shifting conversations. Trust me. I’ve done the road trip thing a bit. In fact, if you need tips on planning a good trip, just ask me. (Or maybe I can blog about that.)

It’s likely you have the time, plus now you’re pondering next school year anyway, right? Are you really pleased with your application of the “many counselors” principle at this point in your ministry? The summer is the easy time to gather a few more.

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4 Comments

  1. Hey Benson,

    Thanks for this good reminder! It was great to be with campus ministers last week at the Summer Institute for Campus Ministry. Love spending time with others thinking together about what we’ve all been called to do. Time away, together, tends to create some good space for conversations to develop over the course of a few days.

    What I LOVE about the road trip idea, however, is that you get to visit colleagues on their campus. You can see first hand (or at least get a feel for the context if students are away from campus) where things happen and what they look like. It’s what makes you such a unique and knowledgeable resource!

    I’d love to see a post on how you would map out a 2 or 3 day road trip… maximizing time with others while also getting to be with as many different people/ministries/campuses as possible.

  2. michaelmears

    I love this idea. Have really thought a lot about road tripping to some other campus ministries.. i agree with guy recommendations maybe by region

  3. I was taking some time to catch up on blog reading and couldn’t believe you had posted this. Later this morning I’m meeting Dave Embree at Christian Campus House in Springfield. I’ve been looking forward to this opportunity to discuss campus ministry and more specifically planting campus ministries.

    You made this recommendation to me back in April and an interesting chain of events led to me being here this week. I’m excited to hear what he has to share from his years of experience.

    Something I would add to your post is the opportunity to build new relationships with others in college ministry. A “Barnabas Group” of peers and mentors that we can go to for help and encouragement. We can gain from initial meetings and interviews but there is so much more to be gained from being connected on this journey of campus ministry. I’m actively seeking this for myself as we set out in planting a campus ministry.

    Thanks for the post! It filled in some gaps as I prepared for my meeting.

  4. Cadmus,

    The “Barnabas Group” is a great idea! Here at BU we have formed just such a group (our Community of Campus Ministers). We meet a couple of times a semester to: eat, fellowship, pray, share about upcoming events, as well as talk through the trends we’re seeing in students and practices we’re finding to be helpful.

    The conditions in Nashville might be a little more optimal for something like this, in comparison to most places, given the number of campus and church ministries we have… but even a couple of folks who have similar hearts, minds and callings can make for great people to gather with regularly!

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