Yesterday, I had two conversations in which I described today’s observation about the field of College Ministry. One of those was in preparation for my time today with college ministers from around the country, as they meet in a cohort with Leadership Network here in Dallas… so I’ll probably share this observation with them, too!
So since it’s on my mind, I wanted to share this thought here, as well.
As I’ve made my way across the country (multiple times!) and sat with many college ministers from the various branches of our field (campus-based, church-based, institutional, and collegiate churches), I’ve noticed that, by-and-large, there seems to be far too much sameness. Too much homogeneity, especially given the contextual diversity of the places we serve.
That diversity isn’t simply regional; even campuses in the same town can be widely diverse. We may not recognize that diversity if we’ve only served on a campus or two, but it’s truly there: Every campus really is its own “tribe.” While we certainly can find similarities and discern categories among campuses, the point is that those things must be found and discerned. They’re not obvious or automatic campus-to-campus.
But here’s the weird thing: Even within all that sameness, there’s a level of disconnected difference that also makes me sad. Yes, most college ministries look very similar (even if on the tip-top surface they seem to be different). But at the level of practices and functional models and methods, there seems to be very little sharing of “Best Practices” and other wisdom – especially outside of the more established campus-based college ministries.
So in the very place I’d love to see some similarities – simply because there is wisdom to be gained and there are skills to be shared – I see everybody simply doing “as they see fit.” Not in a sinful way, but in a way that continues to point to the underdevelopment of our field.
More on this – and why it matters practically – later. Feel free to share your thoughts!