more noticings from a young adult ministers lunch

Last week, I started jotting down what I noticed while attending a gathering of Young Adult Ministers here in Dallas. I think it’s helpful to compare and contrast our field (College Ministry) with others, and perhaps the two best areas for that kind of pondering are the ones that fall (chronologically) before and after ours: Youth Ministry and Young Adult Ministry.


  • Because much of our crowd comes from or moves to those areas.
  • Because there’s some overlap in strategy, wisdom, and resources between College Ministry and each of those fields.
  • Because in some cases (both in churches and parachurch organizations), these areas share organizational ties.
  • And because these areas often get confused with ours – even though Youth Ministry, College Ministry, and Young Adult Ministry are clearly separate fields.

So today, a couple more observations! (If you missed that first post, check it out here.)

Less organic connection… and less competition? Another thing I realized as I sat with two dozen young adult ministers was that these guys and gals are far less likely to run into each other than we are. College ministers’ stomping grounds are usually defined by the campuses they serve, so college ministers naturally end up interacting. This includes the opportunities we have to collaborate and cooperate; after all, we’re serving not only the same type of person… we’re actually serving the same people when we view the campus as a whole.

Those reaching out to young adults don’t seem as likely to cross paths. There’s no “crossroads” they might share (except for a coffee shop or two). So I would imagine the opportunities to interact would be fewer but so would any tendency to “compete.”

Leadership and volunteers that are harder to “wrangle.” By this, I’m referring to the leaders and volunteers that arise from within our respective ministries.

When you think about it, we’re often able to get some pretty amazing stuff out of our student leaders and other student volunteers. After all, even though they think they’re busy, many college students have more free time now than they’ll have ’til retirement!

But young adults are in that in-between, when free time seems a lot harder to come by. The topic for the lunch I attended happened to be on Using Volunteers, and it was fascinating to realize how much harder (in many senses) it must be for young adult ministers. Not only is it harder to ask for a large commitment, but young adult ministry volunteers may also have a harder time submitting under the leadership of the young adult minister.

So while some developed college ministries might raise up leaders who lead a small group, come together for leader training, and are on-point to help during ministry activities each week, young adult ministries might be fortunate to find people who can give a few hours a month. Obviously that’s not true for every volunteer – and there might be a maturity level that we’d envy a bit – but we should be thankful for the availability of our students.

more to come! (The last post in this series is here.)


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