on college ministry books & a missiological approach

Recently, a college ministry friend wrote me to ask about college ministry books that specifically address college ministry missiologically – the very stance I take in my own book, Reaching the Campus Tribes. I wrote the following response (though I’ve edited it a little bit). It’s not a formal bibliography – as will become obvious – but I still thought it might be edifying for those who’d like to expand their exposure to college ministry books.

Here’s my note:

I do have Shockley’s book but haven’t read it. [My friend had asked me if I’d seen Campus Ministry: The Church Beyond Itself.] The two college ministry “primers” I have read recently I really can’t endorse – and when we’re talking about college ministry missiology, they’re even less helpful.

But here are some thoughts; hopefully they help or at least give you some things to check out!

The most “academic” resource I know of on college ministry is the Christian Education Journal of Spring, 2008 (vol 5, no 1), which had a “mini-theme” of College & Young Adult Ministry.

Certainly, The Blueprint by Ma received some attention and definitely applies a sort of missiology (though many college ministers doubt its true effectiveness).

Young, Restless, and Reformed does some pretty good “anthropological” work, it seems, including looking at collegiate settings (RUF and Passion are both discussed, I think).

Reach the U is the most promising primer I know for missiological discussions, because  it’s put out by Chi Alpha – which sees all their college ministers as Campus Missionaries. (It also has multiple authors; if that’s not a “must,” it’s certainly a Best Practice for college ministry “primers” because of the diversity of our field.)

More anthropological / historical discussion might be found in When God Walked on Campus and the new God on Campus. Campus Aflame, too. I think all three discuss revivals connected to college campuses. So does Revival! by Avant, specifically about the Brownwood (and beyond) revival in 1995. I own a couple of other reflections on revivals that have taken place at Asbury and the one at Wheaton that sprang out of the Brownwood (Howard Payne University) one.

UnChristian would be good for more anthropology, as would Lost and Found.

Ooh – You might check out The College “Y” by Setran for some historical research. And the well-received books Finding God at Harvard and Unlikely Disciple might provide helpful looks at individual campuses.

Also, Religion on Campus seems to be a very cool anthropological look at 4 diverse schools – they used it as a textbook at Beeson Divinity when I taught a lecture down there last year.

Decoding the Campus is Campus Crusade’s look at exegeting a campus.

Other books I’m noticing on my shelf: Souls in Transition by Smith (looks at present “emerging adults” and their spirituality), In Search of a City by Jones (discusses the early history of the International Church of Christ, including their major campus work – which turned out to be quite unhealthy), It’s All about Jesus (apparently a less-friendly-to-Evangelicals take on religion on campus), Campus Ministry by Dickey, Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students by Dunn, Blue Like Jazz (note its chapter on college ministry at Reed College), To Transform the World: Vital United Methodist Campus Ministries, Red Moon Rising, Essential Church?, Fireseeds of Spiritual Awakening, They Like Jesus but not the Church, The Outrageous Idea of Academic Faithfulness (definitely a well-respected book, but may not fit your topic), The College Chaplain by White, University of Destruction, Listening Inside Out (by Kyncl, et al. – Nazarene, written about what they’ve learned listening to 20-somethings), Taking the Cross of Christ to the Campus by Senn (an approach to college ministry from the more fundamentalist strain).

I’ve left some primers out because they don’t seem to fit the present topic, and I can’t guarantee that what I’ve left in does, either! And most of those are anthropological, clearly, but that’s because our field is. We’re not in a place to publish a lot on “theory” yet. (Although for publishers, this is one more place where the early birds could get the worms… if they’re wise.)


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