Yesterday, I wrote about the value of your one more year, which presumably for most of you is beginning in the next few weeks. Continuing to step forward – even in situations where the ground is tough and the numbers are low – has value.

Or at least it should. I suppose that isn’t automatic.

Here are some thoughts from a few years ago – thoughts that should encourage you in one of two directions (or both). Be excited that your tenure continues, or be encouraged to make your tenure matter even more!

10,000 students?

In Chapter 4 of Reaching the Campus Tribes, I made my fundamental argument that collegiate ministry should be approached like foreign missions. This includes recognizing the vital need for contextualization… patience… realistic expectations… aggressive progress… and more.

We also need to pursue longevity, as I argue on pages 53 and 54. Here’s a portion of that reflection:

Another way college ministry parallels mission work is in the value of long‐lasting ministries. Our hope should be to build ministries that serve as powerful campus missions for decades to come.

College ministries often benefit from a lengthy tenure. For one thing, a campus ministry or church‐based group that is widely known as effective and established will receive positive word‐of‐mouth from students, campus staff, the community, alumni, and others who hear about its work (even from far away). Relationships grow deeper over time, too. Strategy and contextualization become more and more fine‐tuned. And even when a ministry isn’t the largest ministry on its campus each and every year, it may have an easier time staying “in the mix” as a staple in that campus tribe.

The net result of longevity is also a pretty powerful statistic. While other ministries may at times steal the spotlight, a consistent, long‐term college ministry can ultimately impact a much larger number of students. Plus, a long‐lasting mission effort not only gets to impact collegians, but eventually its influence can extend to faculty, administration, and other “locals” as the ministry becomes an integral part of the campus and even the city.

This seems like a great thing for us to ponder as we begin, doesn’t it? The truth is, whether your college ministry is reaching 10 students a week or 1,000 students a week, if it lasts long enough it could truly have an impact on 10,000 students or more.

But…

Are you establishing your college ministry so that it could do that?

Some questions for building a long-impactful ministry:

  1. How certain are you that your college ministry will be far better in most areas in five years?
  2. What specific actions are you taking to help this happen?
  3. Have you made long-range (at least beyond one year) plans to be a stronger ministry?
  4. When’s the last time you planned – specifically – for ministry strength beyond the next school year?
  5. If your ministry is more than five years old, is it having a significantly better impact now than it was two years ago? Is it run more effectively / efficiently? Have you begun to see your past long-range plans bear fruit?
  6. Are you at the point where you (or someone) can spend ample time thinking about “new initiatives” and “taking more ground” in your ministry? What would it take to set aside time for strategy each month?
  7. If God suddenly calls you to a new job elsewhere in the middle of this school year (as he did a college minister I was talking to yesterday), will your campus ministry outlive you? Would it thrive in the years to come?