The other day, after overhearing a little ESPN in our living room, my wife noted how funny it seemed to hear Harvard mentioned in the same conversation as Stephen F. Austin. (Sorry, Lumberjacks!)
But that’s this thing called the NCAA Tournament, right? It’s a reminder of just how diverse our mission fields are. Just last night, BYU played Ole Miss! Can you imagine two more diverse settings in which to do college ministry?
One, a Mormon school in the heart of “Latter Day Saints country.” 34,000 students – but 78% of the guys will leave for a missionary tour at some point during college. It’s private but not as expensive as some private schools. Provo, its city, is the third-largest in Utah, and the metro area runs about half a million people.
The other is a major public school in the Deep South – though it’s the “liberal one” (when compared to Mississippi State). About 17,000 students, and known more for football than basketball. Situated in a college town with a “college town name,” Oxford. Major Greek system involvement, and they dress up to tailgate.
Each of these has its areas of emphasis, most popular majors, demographic makeups, and various aspects of student life that set it apart – not only from the school it happened to compete against last night, but versus schools in its own sports conference, its own region, and even its own state.
If you want to be a real college ministry nerd during this Tournament (like yours truly), pick any random match-up and think about the differences in reaching their respective students. Harvard and UNC? Notre Dame and Boston’s Northeastern? Arizona and (the Historically Black University) Texas Southern? SMU and UCLA? University of Virginia and Belmont?