On many recent Mondays, I’ve been highlighting the fact that what we do is missions – it usually has much more in common, in other words, with Christian work across the ocean than it does with Youth Ministry, Young Adult Ministry or any other form of Christian Education.
On page 59 of my book, I highlight another description of campus ministry… that’s also a prescription for our work:
Finally [after discussing several ways we should approach college ministry], understanding college ministry as missions also indicates that cooperation is both crucial and fruitful.
The need for cooperation is simply a reality. There will probably be no time soon when parachurch organizations disappear from campuses, when churches place all their collegiate discipleship in the hands of campus-based groups, when multiple local college ministries combine into a single outpost reaching the campus, when all students attend Christian colleges, or when any other plan removes the need for cooperation between ministries. (Nor is it clear that any of these approaches would be healthy or best.) If this is our reality now, then cooperation – at some level – is crucial.
But cooperation is not merely essential; it can also be incredibly fruitful. By working together – wisely – ministries can often do more together than they can do separately. This may be particularly true in college ministry, when “critical mass” can bear particular importance in drawing college students, attracting support, and raising up qualified student leaders. Likewise, vital college ministry needs – such as strategy, creativity, collaboration, resources, and administration – may be more easily accomplished when ministries work together. Instead of duplicating activity, ministries can better complement and supplement each other’s work.
Isn’t this what we have found in international missions? Foreign missionaries face the same scenario we face in college ministry – multiple Christian groups often working within geographical proximity. So they often decide that some efforts are best performed cooperatively. Their examples of taking advantage of these realities can provide wisdom for us as we reach our campus tribes.
As is often the case in the book, I didn’t have the space to explore some really major implications of the pro-cooperation stance for college ministries. So instead of trying to hash all that out here, I’ll let you mull over what I’ve said above (and offer any feedback you have!). Then, in the days to come, look for more right here!