I have the really exciting chance today to connect with an old friend and another pastor who are trying to rethink college ministry within their entire denomination. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to write more about our meeting tomorrow, but I love opportunities like this – just to sit and brainstorm, with very few agenda items besides “doing this better.” Whether I’m doing that for one college ministry or a whole organization or denomination, this sort of thing gets me going!

One of the principles this occasion brings to mind is this: Our ministry design should start with our context, not our methodological “box.”

(I could replace “box” with “baggage” and it might mean the same thing!)

Far too few college ministries take the opportunity – or have the opportunity – truly to design their mission from the ground up. College ministers (or those who hire them) come with preconceived notions of what’s working or what has worked in the past or “what a good college ministry looks like” or “what impacted me in college.” All those ingredients are important and will help us build our methods when the time comes. But they’re not good starting places.

Instead, we should see far more college ministries – whether they’re coming out of churches or directly campus-based – that start with the context and build from there. It won’t be easy, and not all will be allowed to try. But for those who can, there’s a lot of ground to be gained.