I figure just about all of us – Quarter System and Semester System campus ministers – are in the middle of our season. So now might be a good time to spend a little time upgrading, shoring up, or jump-starting our relationships with our overseers and supporters.

Tomorrow, I’ll look at some specific ways to do that. But I wanted to offer a quick primer as we consider how other college ministers on our campuses might differ from us on this.

Who are your “overseers” and supporters? That’s actually one of the main ways the four branches of collegiate ministry are differentiated:

  • Campus-based ministers are usually overseen by other campus ministers. Their support usually comes from direct ministry partnerships or from a denominational entity.
  • Church-based ministers are usually overseen by (non-collegiate) church staff members above them (like an Education Minister or Pastor to Students). They are often paid from the church budget, derived from tithes by church members.
  • Institutional college ministers report to (non-collegiate) administration members. Their funding generally comes from the school.
  • Collegiate church pastors are overseen by elders, the congregation, denominational workers, etc. (depending on the church structure). Their support would hopefully come from tithes, but much funding may need to come from other direct ministry partnerships or from a denomination or church planting group, too.

It’s interesting how differently each group gets supported, and who’s doing the overseeing. For instance, I think many of us would love to be overseen by others who have walked in our shoes as college ministers themselves… but usually only campus-based college ministers have that privilege.

And many of us would love the chance to receive financial support from a predictable, well-funded source – like our church or denomination. It also might be encouraging to involve the very people we minister to in the funding of our mission – but most of the time, only collegiate church pastors and (sometimes) campus-based college ministers have that opportunity.

Meanwhile, think about how each minister would go about increasing the scope of his or her ministry (through increased funding) – a campus-based minister or collegiate church pastor might simply have to recruit more ministry partners, while there might be a ton of red tape for the church-based or institutional people. But because of the oversight structure, the church-based and collegiate church ministers might have a much easier time creating their own vision and methodology for the ministry they lead; at least in some settings, campus-based ministers might be tied to a pretty specific approach by national leadership, and institutional college ministers might have their hands tied for other reasons.

Or maybe not!

We all have a different setup, and there are big positives (and big negatives, I’d say) for each branch. But it’s very good for us to recognize that we face different opportunities than the guy or gal across campus from us.