some riffs on complementary & niche-based college ministry

I’ve been talking about niche-based and complementary campus ministry for the last couple of days, largely because they were discussed a few times with the Ohio ministers who brought me up there last week.

After offering a sort of primer on the two paths yesterday, I wanted to offer the first of some random thoughts. There’s no real organization here; it’s simply a collection of some of the things I’ve noticed, wondered, or imagined for these two areas.

Gamers. One of the campus niches that seems like a really good example of a new, fairly well-defined niche is the Gamer Culture. I’ve heard of at least one ministry reaching out to that group, too.

Niches that seem obvious. Besides athletes, international students, and ethnic-specific ministries (which I mentioned yesterday and are fairly well established in our field), several others come to mind as strong candidates for niche-based ministry at many campuses. These include academic / honors students, apartment-dwellers, specific majors that have particularly stringent workloads (like Architecture), students drawn to or studying the arts, individuals from specific countries (rather than simply working with all internationals), and Christians considering going into ministry.

Niche ministries you should know. Though less well-known, it’s been fun for me to learn about Lifelines, a niche ministry of Cru focused largely on outdoors-lovers, and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, which is active on many campuses for those entering those fields.

Complementary options. While any strength (of a particular minister or an entire ministry) could eventually be used to complement other ministry work taking place in town, some opportunities seem more widespread than others. I wish we’d see more ministries helping with Leadership Training, campus-wide Service, Preparation for life after college, Missions Mobilization, and supporting the particularly academic students – just to name a few options!

Spin-off style. For both complementary and niche-based endeavors that start within a present, full-fledged college ministry, it’s always worth considering whether those efforts should eventually spin off into their own ministries. That’s not always the best plan, but it’s a valid – and sometimes better – option.


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