going for broke #2: a whole new world

The other day, I heard about some missionaries who were working really hard to reach some Japanese people for Christ in a particular city…

…in Australia!

After seeing the wide variety of college ministries around the country (and thinking about college ministry in terms of missions for so long), I honestly believe some of our best potential growth is in the area of niche-based ministry. Within the larger “campus tribe” each of us seeks to reach, there are likely numerous smaller niches that would benefit from particular outreach.

So how could some campus ministries “go for broke” to better reach their campuses? By launching extensive new outreaches – perhaps entire new ministries – to reach particular niches.

On many campuses, multiple college ministries seem to be largely attracting the same type of students. While today’s suggestion for “going for broke” doesn’t mean jettisoning your present ministry, your mission – if you choose to accept it – would involve establishing a major “beachhead” among groups that aren’t already being reached well.

We’re not just talking about beginning to invite such students to your present activities – although, of course, that’s always something worth considering. It’s just not today’s idea. The idea of this “Going for Broke” series is to throw out some major possibilities – in this case, perhaps even creating a whole new “spin-off” ministry quite different from your present forms. For many niches, this may be what’s needed if they’re going to be reached.

Through this, you might have the chance to better reach one of the “classic” niches that college ministries have found so much success in reaching already: International students. Athletes. Various ethnicities.

Your new ministry / major new outreach might connect with a group whose schedule, identity, geography, etc., indicate it could use this sort of effort: Engineering majors. Gamers. Those who spend almost all their time on South Campus. Commuters. Transfer students. A very specific minority group.

It might be even a group that rallies around a lifestyle or philosophy: The LBGT community. Thursday night partiers. Campus Republicans. Environmentalists. Mormons.

Tomorrow, I’ll post thoughts on finding / choosing a true “niche” of students to reach. Not all niches need a separate effort, and some college ministry work has “overshot” in this area. But if you look around at your campus, it’s likely you’ll see some group – even if it’s a small group – that you realize won’t likely ever be reached well by your present small groups, Large Group Meeting, or other activities.

Maybe some other college ministry will be called to reach them. But maybe yours is.


[Click to ask questions, comment, or see any comments on this post!]


  1. This is great, and reminds me of that old thread between you, Steve Lutz, & I re: what makes a campus ministry truly missional. We’ve been working at this for awhile, and we try to choose “niches” that are in some way identity forming for those involved. We don’t want to go to people who play chess, but to chess players. There’s a difference. After that we usually begin by figuring out ways for some of our students to be where they are, eat with them, and get to know them. I look forward to what you have to say about it tomorrow.

  2. I like that comparison a lot, Nick – chess players vs. those who happen to play chess.

    Hopefully the follow-up post was somewhat helpful, but I know it was a bit of a primer! I’d love to hear any other ideas you’ve got.

  3. Pingback: moving towards missional « symbiosis

Leave a Reply