One aspect of Collegiate Ministry I’ve often lamented is the general apathy toward specifically preparing our students for their transition into the “real world.”
There are certainly champions along these lines, scattered throughout our field, and even some national organizations that focus on it well. But the “mode” in the world of college ministry seems to be focusing more on spiritual growth for the present and topics for collegiate success.
Even though college ministers may question the value of youth ministries that don’t prepare kids well for collegiate Christianity, these same college ministers aren’t always producing churches’ next awesome members, distant cities’ next noble citizens, or workplaces’ next excellent witnesses. While we’ve rightly recognized that collegians are in a bit of a cocoon (incubator?) of their own during this time in college, we’ve perhaps kept our own sights within those confines a bit too much. Part of the job of any leader in college ministry is to see beyond graduation. Clearly. And then to prepare students for it.
It’s a college minister’s job to produce an awesome young adult. It’s a college minister’s job to produce people on trajectories toward being awesome 30-year-olds. While no college minister can be held responsible for all choices their students will make (within college, let alone once they graduate!), the general value of a college ministry should in large part be judged on the “real world” spiritual success of its graduates.
I think college ministry’s future will include more of this, though. I hope so. Some great emerging understandings of workplace and vocational theology can help lead the way on the vocational axis (if we let them trickle down to college ministry). Other focuses, like being good spouses, finances, and meaningful church involvement are pretty accessible for those who put on their thinking caps. And I think there are enough good examples from individual, transition-eyeing college ministries that other college ministries will have the chance to learn from them (once they’re willing to learn).