their road ahead & our responsibilities

As I discussed yesterday, I have the chance to teach a seminary class this week on Collegiate and Young Adult Ministry. The opportunity to teach both subjects (and they are separate subjects!) reminded me of one of our big responsibilities in the field of Collegiate Ministry.

In trying to outline my talk, it’s clear there’s much more to discuss in Collegiate Ministry than in Young Adult Ministry. That’s not to say Young Adult Ministry isn’t thriving in some places. But comparatively, there are some important things to realize:

  • Unlike in college ministry, nearly all focused Young Adult options are in churches
  • The present approach to Young Adult Ministry (in contrast with the approach of Singles Ministry we all observed in the 1990s) is pretty new
  • Young Adult Ministries generally have to draw from large, geographically dispersed populations; they don’t have the luxury of their locus of community existing in a college campus
  • Even in big cities, there may be numerous strong churches without well-developed Young Adult Ministries. (That doesn’t mean young adults shouldn’t choose them – see below – but it is important to note.)

So what does this mean for us as campus ministers?

  • Our students had better, upon graduation, figured out their ecclesiology (and hopefully well before, of course)
  • Hopefully we’ve trained our students to be ready to flourish in a church, even if it doesn’t have targeted Young Adult Ministry
  • Hopefully we’ve trained our students to find and decide on a church, wherever they go after graduation – just as Youth Ministers need to teach their kids to seek out a great college ministry once they graduate, we need to emphasize the efforts our students should be making to jump into new community


  1. Another challenge is when a young adult ministry believes that 29 year olds and college freshmen mix well. They can, but not always.

    As you have mentioned, transitions into college, out of college and into young adulthood are big transitions in life.

    Tough questions.

  2. Yep. I’m definitely going to be discussing in the class why College Ministry (usually) isn’t just a subset of Young Adult Ministry in the United States. In other places (and sometimes at Community Colleges, etc., here), people in college may function a lot like Young Adults who just happen to attend classes. Good word. I may be able to work it into my lecture! :)

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