more variations in campus ministry

These last two weeks, I’ve been blogging through some thoughts on the field of college ministry itself. It’s been “primer,” for sure, but a lot of us don’t have many chances to think outside our own branch of campus ministry. So I hope it’s been helpful!

Today and tomorrow, I’m heading a little further down the rabbit hole – with some things I spoke about at Leadership Network a few weeks ago. I was asked to discuss different models of college ministry I’d seen, and while my audience there included only Church-based College Ministers and those involved in Collegiate Churches, there was plenty of overlap for the other branches.

As you might remember (or may have missed), I did discuss other variations in college ministry last week. I’m not completely retreading that ground, so feel free to check out that post.

So without further ado, two more areas where college ministries vary pretty widely. I’ll hit another two tomorrow!

Meeting sites

Where a college ministry (of any kind) holds its activities obviously affects its draw, its opportunities, and its options. But there’s a wide continuum here: from college ministries that function entirely on-campus (for large group meetings, small groups, and more) to those functioning completely off-campus.

Sure, church-based ministries may comprise more of the latter group. And campus-based and institutional campus ministries more often fall into the first group. But it would be a mistake to assume it always works out that way.

More importantly, this really is a continuum. For instance, many groups that hold a Large Group Meeting off-campus offer small groups on campus, while other groups may meet on-campus midweek but offer small groups in homes or other locations. The mix of these options makes for a wide variety of “campus ministry geography” around the nation – and even on a single campus.

“Tribal reach”

It’s a mistake to assume that every college ministry only reaches one campus – especially in the case of church-based college ministries. Sure, many college ministries (of the various branches) naturally focus on one campus – simply because there’s only one campus to reach! But other college ministries focus on one campus despite the presence of other local campuses. (This might not be surprising in the case of campus-based ministries, but is in the case of church-based ones.)

Other college ministries (of the various branches) rather organically focus on multiple campuses (because students naturally show up – perhaps from a local “feeder school” or because a church has youth ministry graduates who attend several local colleges). But some college ministries strategically or “fully” focus on several campuses, running what may look like individual college ministries.

On the other hand, some college ministries may choose to reach only a portion of a single tribe. They may focus on one geographical area, perhaps, or (more often) a more specific niche – like athletes or members of a certain ethnic group.

Again, it’s important to note that most of the branches participate anywhere within this spectrum. Only Institutional College Ministers, perhaps, would be highly unlikely either to reach more than one campus OR to reach only a portion of the campus they serve. Of course, church-based college ministries might be more likely to target multiple campuses (either “organically” or “strategically”), but campus-based ministries and collegiate churches do at times, too.


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