(even) more campus ministry variations

Instead of the usual Fridea, I wanted to offer a little more college ministry “theory” with a continuation of yesterday’s post. I noted then two of the big areas where we see major variations within the field of college ministry – Meeting Sites and “Tribal Reach.” Today, two more areas in which variations occur.

Basic Structure

Yes, we’re all most familiar with the “full-fledged” or “classic” model of college ministry: generally autonomous ministries that try to offer a full discipleship experience for college students. But there are indeed ministries – in various branches of collegiate ministry – that differ.

Some, for example, may focus only on particular areas. Maybe they only hold a large group. Others may only (or primarily) use small groups. Others may focus on a few areas of service or discipleship – like “pods” of activity overseen by the ministry. Similar to these forms are college ministries that aim to be purposely complementary to other local college ministries. They offer one area of discipleship, while recognizing their students need other forms as well.

I’ve also run into college ministries that are purposely partnered with other ministries. These tend to involve churches that purposely make use of campus-based college ministries, which function as a sort of “outsourced” college ministry for the church. Meanwhile, some college ministries may be less officially tied but may very purposely point students to participation in the other.

Constituent Students

All college ministries – of all branches – have to consider whether to / how to involve students who live locally during the summer. Church-based college ministries and collegiate churches also have to consider how to / whether to minister to their “home-grown” students – both those who go away to school and those who stay nearby.

Once we make sense of it, the variations here are predictable. But not all of us realize that certain forms exist – like campus-based ministries that reach students while they’re home for the summer, or church-based college ministries that only focus on students at the local school (and not necessarily students who grew up in the church). Those outside of church-based college ministry also should recognize that these ministries sometimes face a real difficulty in having to maintain nearly two distinct college ministries – one for school year students, and one for the summertime crowd.


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