Yesterday’s post considered how well we recognize and connect with the “pulse” of our campuses. Are you noticing the many opportunities within each semester? Are you taking advantage of those opportunities?
A big key here is, of course, knowing your campus well enough to see what’s taking place. But it’s possible to “know the times” and still not be able to respond to the opportunities presented to us… because our ministry structures don’t offer space for changes.
Some ways this works out (in my mind, at least!):
1. Things that have worked well in the past must still be reevaluated for the present. Once a campus ministry is developed, it’s very easy for its leaders to discover effective, efficient practices… and then stick with them month after month or year after year.
Learning from our successes is great, and traditions can be very valuable. But we run the risk of falling into what so annoys us about some churches: Traditionalism. Traditionalism doesn’t only look like stained glass or 1950s methods; traditionalism can look like taking the same mission trip each year or throwing the same fun event during New Student Orientation each August. If you started from scratch, would you really choose to do this method in this way again?
2. If your full calendar is set a year in advance, your ministry probably isn’t responding to the campus like it should be. Do we need to plan mission trips months or years beforehand? Sure! Does God sometimes reveal our message themes and small group topics well in advance? Of course.
But when it comes to your own children, how many of you consistently map out their exact discipleship routes, fun activities, and “teachable moments” a year in advance? If you did, would that be best for them? The same goes for our students (and the students not yet touched by our ministries).
If we’re loving our campuses well, it should be impossible to determine exactly how we’re going to reach those campuses over the course of a school year. Yes, some planning is valuable and important. But if you’re always deciding in July what students will need to learn next March, then you’re probably “doing college ministry” more than you’re reaching college students.
3. Your activities shouldn’t only be determined by those already in your college ministry. Remember, we’re not only responding to our students’ growth and other changes. The whole campus is our mission field, so in some part the whole campus should inform our agenda. More on this in the next post.
4. Requiring flexibility and leaving space for change will force you to know (and respond to) your campus. If you’ve already decided that a large part of your calendar a couple of months (or a couple of weeks) from now will be determined by the needs of the moment… then you’re going to be more attuned to the needs of the moment. That’s just the way it works!
[The follow-up post can be found right here!]