more like missions this year: indigenous

Happy New Year!

One of the biggest themes on this blog – and certainly the main theme of my ebook – is that the more we treat Collegiate Ministry like International Missions, the better we’ll impact campuses. So I wanted to start the year off by pondering some ways the normal college ministry can make things “more like missions” in 2015.

Aim for Indigenous Leaders

In some cases – most cases, I’d imagine – the shift to “more like missions” will begin in your head. Your thinking, purposes, and plans need to adjust first, before you do anything different. That’s the case with today’s topic, even if it seems like more of an “action item” at first.

One way to “do college ministry more like missions” is to make sure a primary aim is raising up indigenous leaders. For most college ministries, having student leaders is a given, an obvious pursuit. But the mental shift comes when we question whether we’re focused on raising up full-fledged leaders in the sense that foreign missionaries might – to lead out with all the opportunities and responsibilities of the missionary himself.

In many college ministries, our student leaders resemble “student helpers” more than they do full-fledged college ministers. So today’s emphasis is really about moving our leadership aims a little bit more toward the side of creating college ministers to reach their own campus.

How often do your student leaders come up with entirely new ways to impact the campus? How do they help identify particular needs on campus or in your city? What roles in major decisions do they play? In their present positions (like leading small groups or ministry teams), how much do they function as full-fledged college ministers, shepherding and planning and determining direction?

Just as in foreign missions, mature and skilled indigenous leaders will be able to do many of these things better than a college minister can alone. Overseas, missionaries often look to replace themselves ultimately; while the tenure of students in college changes this question a bit, it’s not bad to ponder just how close we might get to this ideal in how we “commission” our top student leaders to serve while they’re still around.

Clearly, you’ll have a range of student leaders, from those who serve as basic “volunteers” to those who serve alongside you as ministers to their own campus. But as I noted above, this question starts with thinking, not doing. The beginning of the semester (even the spring semester) is a great time to contemplate what you’re aiming for:

Is my ultimate aim a collection of student leaders who function as full-fledged, indigenous college ministers?

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