in praise of adult volunteers for all sorts of collegiate ministries

One technique that other branches of college ministry can learn from church-based ministry is the use of adult volunteers.

It’s extremely rare (at least in my experience) to hear of campus-based or institutional college ministries “importing” local Christian adults. Of course, institutional ministries (those within Christian colleges) may very well use faculty from the rest of the college, which covers a lot of the bases here.

In the final branch, collegiate churches, the presence of non-staff adults largely depends on how heterogeneous the congregation is. Some of these ministries are made up of many adults; others are nearly entirely student-drawing (except for staff members).

(I know of at least one collegiate church, on the other hand, that imported adults from other campuses of this multi-site church. They asked for a yearlong commitment. Cool idea.)

And while I’m at it, it’s worth noting that plenty of church-based college ministries likely don’t use adult volunteers (or don’t use many). But in general, they’re far more likely to than the other branches.

So caveats aside, this is an area worth exploring for any and all college ministries. One of the easiest objections to the work of college ministry is its lack of intergenerational connections. What’s more, it’s clear this generation of students is interested in learning from those of older generations. And whether they’re interested or not… they need to hear from them. And they need to hear from more than just their college ministry’s staff (and probably from people older than their college ministry’s staff, too.)

Sure, pulling adults into your ministry to

  • lead small groups
  • teach
  • mentor ministry teams or simply participate in them
  • invite students into their own lives and homes
  • disciple students
  • or simply connect with students over time, organically, in the context of your Large Group Meetings or other events

can be messy. It can be awkward. And certainly not all adults are cut out for this.

But some are. It’s worth pulling them in.

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