“work as worship” and the field of collegiate ministry

I’m not sure I can tell you why the “Faith and Work” (or “Work as Worship”) movement hasn’t seen college ministry as a prime opportunity. (And maybe there are corners of this effort that are investing deeply in our field that I just don’t know about.)

There are, of course, some college ministries that make this a high priority on their own – further illustrating my longtime assertion that collegiate ministry could/should lead the way on quite a bit of Christian impact. The Church should be taking notes from the college ministries that have made this a cause.

But I digress.

Whether we’re receiving much attention from this newly energized movement or not, each college minister must decide whether he or she will disciple their students to “spiritually apprehend” their work. College ministers serve, after all, at the exact moment where students’ “future work” is being discovered and developed.

And a spiritual understanding of their career goes far beyond simply getting brave enough to evangelize in the workplace. It goes beyond teaching students simply to be ethical, too. A correct understanding includes those things, but it also teaches students that excellence is a biblical demand, reflecting the Creator in whose image they exist. And it takes one last step, teaching students the (hopefully) God-glorifying nature of their work itself, which has the potential to help people flourish in its day-to-day improvement of our world.

This sort of teaching also clears up the (common) misunderstanding that “normal work” is mostly important spiritually only because it

  • brings the employee money that can be used for Kingdom purposes, OR
  • allows the employee to use their skills outside of the “workday” for Kingdom purposes (like helping people in need or assisting charity organizations).

All of these things are good – donating money and donating time, evangelizing at work and proceeding with ethical perfection. But your students’ very job is meant to advance God’s Kingdom all on its own, within the paychecked portion of the week and their “billable hours” and their exact job description. There’s no reason they should be assigned to a workweek without meaning so they can have meaningful lives outside. (Millennials, especially, dread this.)

So are you teaching the engineering major about “engineering to the glory of God”? Does the psychology student connect the dots between their chosen field and discipling others? Does the art major have a deepened understanding of bringing beauty into the world? Does the criminal justice student have a guide in connecting their efforts for justice to the justice of Scripture?

This isn’t easy. But you don’t have to be an expert in each field – just a nudger of your students to dive deeply into their career itself as a means to glorify the Lord.


  1. Exactly! This perspective is one of the reasons that led me to leave my full-time, paid ministry position! The marketplace needs kingdom-oriented workers and decision makers not necessarily because it needs to be “spiritualized” with some sort of hidden agenda. It needs us because when we live the way God made us to live IN his world, the world actually accomplishes God’s purposes more completely!

    I’m curious which campus ministries you know have made this a high priority? I’d love to reach out and learn more.

  2. Hey Chris. Great word. Coalition of Christian Outreach has had this DNA from the beginning, so their ministries are the ones to watch here. The various “Christian Study Centers,” though they’re complementary college ministries more than “standard” ones, would tend to lean here. I would be surprised if RUF and InterVarsity didn’t lean this direction more than some. And then I betcha there are individual chapters of larger ministries that have grasped this.

  3. Dude! Thank you. Looking at each of these, I’ve found some other organizations that are oriented in the same way as the non-profit I’m starting in the DFW area for college students and area churches. I hope to be contacting someone with CCO to schedule a visit soon. They’ve been doing this for a while now! Thank you for all you do to advance campus ministry!

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