This post will sound like it’s only for church-based college ministers. But it’s meant as an encouragement – really, an exhortation – for the two other branches: campus-based college ministers (both parachurch and denominational) and institutional college ministers (who serve on the staffs of Christian colleges). Church-based leaders can apply it, too (but they’ll have to be really Kingdom-minded to do that…).
On most Mondays, I’ve been looking back at Reaching the Campus Tribes, the book I published following my yearlong exploration of college ministry around the U.S.. This weekend, I stumbled upon one key passage that applies well to the new school year. The end of that passage states,
Not every church needs a standard, holistic college ministry, and obviously not every church will be able to support that level of investment. In fact, our Christian cause among campus tribes would actually be damaged if every local church began competing for the students on the campus.
But every church that encounters college students must plan for that encounter. (p. 100)
(I’ll give a little context for that quote in a later post, and of course you can read it in the ebook on pages 98-100.)
So here’s the challenge: As local experts on the work of college ministry in our areas, we need to invest some time – or at least offer a little time – to help local churches develop a College Student Plan.
Nope, this isn’t about helping them establish a college ministry – most of them don’t need it, and that’s probably not your calling (since you’ve got your own to run!). But every church needs to know how it’s going to welcome and assimilate college students, and how it will either disciple them or point them to discipleship (which may, of course, mean pointing them your way).
You’re the local expert. I don’t see how we really have a choice. Remember, this is missions. What you participate in, as a college minister, is the entire campus ecosystem. You not only serve a tribe, you serve from within a tribe. What those local churches do (or don’t do) when it comes to students affects the tribe, even though they come from beyond it. And what they do affects how well your students will relate to the Church in the future, too.
This is missions. If we were overseas, we would certainly care about “outsiders” who had a true impact on members of the tribe. As a member of the campus tribe, we have to consider what role we might play in helping outsiders – like churches without a solid “College Student Plan.”