The last couple of days, I’ve encouraged us to be in love with our campuses enough that we recognize the various opportunities that arise in the course of any school year. Further, to take advantage of those opportunities, we have to remain flexible and leave lots of space to adjust our methods to our ever-changing mission field.
One last quick thought on this, based on what I’ve seen in the world of college ministry.
For many of us, it’s quite tempting to let our present students’ felt needs determine the course of our ministries. For instance, a campus minister might decide to speak on a certain theme because…
- our students always get excited about that topic
- we think the theme or approach will draw students
- we’ve heard students recently clamor for a certain style (“to go deeper,” for example)
- our ministry’s students have recently begun checking out another ministry on campus
- it’s a theme that has “worked really well” before.
And we can have the same mindset in other areas, from service events to fun traditions – letting students inside our ministry “steer the ship” to such an extent that we (their college ministers) are no longer really shepherding.
Our students’ felt needs, their various opinions, and the potential to draw (or keep) them shouldn’t be the linchpins of our decisions about our ministries. Yes, those things matter as we’re making programming decisions. But students don’t always know what they need most, and they don’t always desire what they need most. And no matter how much they want a certain topic or a certain fun event, those methods must constantly be made to bow before the particular purposes they’re meant to serve.
So to sum up:
- I’d guess that many college ministers need to let the climate of the campus influence their methodological decisions more.
- And I’d also guess that many need to let their own students’ wishes influence their methods a little bit less.
So the most important question is, How well are you doing in both of these areas? Which of these areas might you need to work on?