Last week, I had the chance to duck in on the annual Collegiate Ministers Fellowship, a gathering of (mostly) Southern Baptist college ministers that happened to be in Denton, Texas, this year. I only got to sit in on a few hours of the three-day event, but it was well worth my time – just as any well-run gathering of campus ministers tends to be.

At the gathering, one of the roundtable sessions I sat in on involved campus-based ministers with larger ministries. One of the men in that session discussed his recent realization of something important.

He explained the average student’s “trajectory” through his ministry, from joining up as a freshman to (hopefully) rising to the top levels of leadership. But this college minister had realized that he couldn’t assume every student would take the same path… and that he needed to allow students to “get on the train” through a variety of means.

I deeply appreciate college ministers having a clear picture of their students’ usual trajectories through the ministry. But on the other hand, we need to be open to the fact that many students won’t follow that trajectory, and we need to minister to them intentionally too.

Some students…

  • Join us as sophomores. Or seniors.
  • Have schedules that truly limit their weekly involvement.
  • Study abroad for a semester, “disrupting” their trajectory.
  • Are ready to lead their peers earlier than we supposed… or later.
  • Are first drawn not to our classic “front doors” but to our service, our small groups, or other activities.

How easy is it for “non-traditional trajectory” students to be impacted within your ministry? How well are they assimilated? What are their potential leadership opportunities?