building a fanbase

I was pondering “vintage” Texas Rangers yesterday – guys whose names you wouldn’t know unless you lived here in DFW during the 90s. But for those who did, they’re guys who might strike the same nostalgia in your heart that they have for me and for several people who’ve been reminiscing with me on Facebook.

And that got me thinking again about college ministries, and whether or not we build “legacies” of the helpful, encouraging, even glorifying variety.

  • Do your former students remember more than just the impact of your ministry, but also the community and the identity of your group? (Do they even remember its name?)
  • Do you know the history of your ministry?
  • Do your present students know anything of those who have gone before them, the students who were impacted in their place, whose impact likely carries down even to them?
  • Does the campus itself recognize the history of your group and its (hopefully positive) work among the tribe?
  • Do ministry alumni jump at the chance to connect with present and former students from your ministry, to donate time and money, to point new collegians they know to your ministry?
  • Do you have the type of college ministry that would actually produce “lifelong fans,” beyond simply a lot of active participants, committed members, and “for-now fans”?

This is a different facet of college ministry, and it may not be one that needs to take priority in your ministry. Spiritual impact is oh so valuable, even if memorable community and a nostalgia-inducing “place to belong” aren’t strong parts of the package.

But it’s probably worth thinking about.


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  1. PC

    I was just thinking of another connection with this idea today. I live in Sacramento, and that means baseball fans are either for the Giants or the A’s.

    I, for one can’t stand baseball, and I could not care less. But when SF won yesterday, I definitely wanted to click over to that channel be a Giants fan, even if just in time for their success.

    It made me realize how much success and excellence draws people. How many people were Indianapolis fans before they got the best QB in the league? How many people cared about the SF Giants a couple weeks ago?

    But what teams do you expect to sell more gear in stores right now? How many Colts fans are their nationwide today? How many people will be Giants fans next year if they win the world series?

    People are drawn to excellence, and they want to be known as a fan, a supporter, a PART of that excellence.

  2. Cary

    I have discovered that one of the greatest blessings in ministry is having a connected, involved, and supportive alumni base. We host a homecoming event for alumni from all over the nation every fall and it is a time that speaks powerfully to current students.

  3. Good thoughts, fellas.

    Cary – I’m excited y’all have been able to build that. That says a lot about a college ministry. And it’s very cool that your present students get to be connected to it.

    PC – That is a GREAT point. While some college ministries definitely mistake “excellence” for excellence (the former indicating well put-together, the latter indicating impactful and beautiful), a really exciting “movement” on a campus can certainly draw fans… that can turn into the impacted over time.

  4. First of all, I’m not happy with PC citing Indianapolis in his comment as the successful nfl team. If I’m not mistaken, I believe the New Orleans Saints beat the Colts in this past Super Bowl so I feel like they should have been referenced, of course I am a little biased as a born and raised Louisianian who now dwells in Texas.

    To the post now, I really never thought about having old students who came through your ministry connect with the current ministry. This seems like a great idea to encourage your students to fully invest in your ministry b/c they have seen the results of what that looks like. Good thoughts Benson and PC, give some props to the Saints next time would ya ;)

  5. Way to represent, Ryan. :)

    Also, I’m glad I could intro this idea. When I was on a church staff, I hoped to build this – it would take some years to do, plus there’s trickiness because of concerns about direct donations when you’re in a church. But I was hopeful.

    This is one of the big areas where church-based college ministry (and probably the other forms, too) need to learn from campus-based college ministry. While certainly not every campus-based ministry has a strong alumni connection, many of them do.

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