asking catalytic questions (advancing our field #2)

I’ve generally lain low about this particular method, but since I’m on the topic of Advancing the Field of College Ministry this week, I wanted to put it out there. (Read the intro post here.)

One of the easiest ways to advance our field within greater Christendom is to ask key questions of outside groups. The point is to help those groups realize that either…

  • there is an interest in connecting their organization with the College Ministry world, or
  • there is a market for their product in the College Ministry world.

An example: I love using this method when I attend conferences that have booths set up for various vendors. As I browse the booths, I try to ask catalytic questions of those groups I believe should consider aiding the field of College Ministry.

With seminaries, I ask what programs they have for training college ministers. I might also ask how they’ve connected with college ministers to help undergrad students think about attending seminary.

With publishers, it depends – but if I know the publisher, I can tailor the question. So I might ask about potential curriculum (for college ministry small groups), training materials (for college ministers or student leaders), or whether part of their marketing plan is to connect with college ministers. If they already have materials for Youth, Young Adults, or other demographics, I can ask if they’ve produced any collegiate versions.

Even denominations need to hear the occasional, “How do you resource the college ministers under your umbrella?” or “I saw everything you have for Youth Ministry; what kinds of College Ministry programs do you guys have?”

And we can ask any other parachurch ministry similar questions:

  • “How have you connected all the campus ministries with what you’re doing?”
  • “What inroads have you found with college students?”
  • “What benefits have you seen connecting your ministry with people early-on, like in college?”

As college ministers, we’re masters at this questions-for-the-sake-of-discipleship technique already. Our goal is to help them realize for themselves how beneficial this connection could be. We need to be genuine as we ask questions – but it’s hard not to be in this case; of course we’re genuinely curious about these sorts of things.

Of course, this isn’t just for conferences and other face-to-face venues. It’s great to send an email to groups you’re connected with (or just groups you know about). There may even be people in your life who could help the field of college ministry in some way – have you “put the bug in their ear”?

Christian organizations need to realize that the field of College Ministry shouldn’t be overlooked – not just because it’s such an important and valuable mission field, but because their very aims (of both ministry and sales) would benefit.

You never know when a seminary representative might return to her campus and say, “Have we ever thought about training college ministers here?”

We never know when a publisher – after getting questions at a few conferences in a row – might make a suggestion at a meeting back at the offices.

When they hear from us – especially if they hear from many of us – it’s going to make an impression.

If you’ll take a little time, this is one big way to help advance our field.

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