On occasional Mondays, I’m returning to my free ebook, Reaching the Campus Tribes, to highlight some of the themes – most of which remind us just howmissiological this all is.
The following passage comes up as I list the major problems I see in the field of Collegiate Ministry. As in foreign missions, we college ministers should place a high priority on building for the long haul. But whatever our intentions, we don’t seem to be ending up there:
Many college ministries lack longevity. Even though longevity seems to be a major factor in strengthening college ministry impact, many ministries aren’t established long enough for students to see those benefits. Many of the college ministries I encountered during my trip had only been recently planted, had recent leader turnover, or had otherwise been “restarted” in the past few years. A one- to three-year lifespan seems to be the reality for most new college ministry endeavors.There will certainly be times when leaders are replaced or a college ministry’s vision needs to be recast. But changes – even major changes – don’t have to break a college ministry’s momentum, if the ministry has been “built to last” in the first place. Yet this sort of strategic development appears to be pretty rare.
Notably, when longevity is lacking, the students connected to these ministries may experience many of the effects of the Collegiate Attention Gap [discussed earlier in that chapter], since the impact they receive is ineffective or short-lived. (p. 26)
I hope you’ll think about this aspect as you consider your campus ministry this summer – whether you’re in a church, a parachurch or multi-church context, or even inside a Christian college. Longevity matters. I believe it matters a lot. And we increase our chances at maintaining vision, mission, and momentum (and even staff!) when we plan for it.
So that’s the question: Are you building a college ministry? Or just “doing” college ministry?