A while ago, I had the opportunity to guest-blog at the BASIC Concepts for Campuses blog. In case you missed it (or need a refresher), I wanted to post it here, too!
There’s a big problem with making a list like this: There are plenty of other items that could end up on it.
That being said, here are some of the areas your college ministry might want to rethink – or consider in the first place! Each of them has the potential to take a ministry to its next level of impact, so hopefully two or three of them (at least) will give you some pondering-fodder in the months ahead!
1. Get smaller. What would happen if you devoted a heavy portion of energy to impacting one particular “people group” on campus – the Theater club, for instance, or one dorm floor where a few of your ministry’s students already live? This is niche-based college ministry, and it’s one strategy always worth considering. If (by God’s leading) you put disproportionate effort into reaching deeply into one campus segment, you may find that you actually reach more students that way… and more non-Christians, too.
2. Learn the tribe. How much time have you, as college minister or student leader, put into “learning your tribe”? Any missionary would likely spend months observing, studying, and discussing his particular mission field. Do you know your campus’s demographics? Do you know the goals of the administration for the next 24 months? What segments of campus are other college ministries reaching well? What’s the history of your mission field? If you don’t know the answers to these and other questions, you’re not making the impact you could.
3. Prepare for success. College ministers should be evaluated on how well their graduates are doing two years beyond college. (That’s not the only measure of success, but it’s a big one.) How well is your ministry doing at preparing students for “the real world”? While this should be a purpose throughout the college years, it should receive special attention as students near graduation. How are seniors being discipled in choosing a church, handling money, finding community, dating, being a Christian employee, and the many other struggles of life beyond college?
4. Share whys, not just whats. How often do you encourage students to do something without helping them understand why? It’s easy to push students to service opportunities, invite them into community, or urge them to excel in their studies without once teaching them what the Bible has to say about these things. (And students probably won’t argue that they’re each important.) But giving instructions without biblical motivation is legalism, and it makes us no different from their fraternities and service clubs when it comes to encouraging “good behavior.” A quick test: For each aspect you consider to be a “pillar” of your college ministry, have you engaged in ministry-wide discipleship on that topic?
5. Evaluate. When you really think about it, do you know that your ministry is making an impact? How do you know? One of the trickiest things about college ministry is figuring out how to evaluate our work, but it’s still worth attempting to do. Are students remembering (and applying) your weekly talks? Are small group leaders communicating well? Is your annual on-campus service project accomplishing what you hoped? Are students actually succeeding spiritually in the years beyond college? Are visitors feeling welcomed and getting the information they should? If you don’t have regular and effective means of evaluating your activities, it’s time to develop some!
Have you considered these areas in your ministry? What other areas in your ministry have you realized needed to be reconsidered?