In the Customer Experience world, something called “journey mapping” is apparently a big deal.

A customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience: from initial contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship. It may focus on a particular part of the story or give an overview of the entire experience. (from here)

What’s more, journey mapping can be applied to different types of customers – not simply those following the “usual” funnel, but also those who might connect with an organization in a less-than-usual way (or sometimes a less-than-ideal way – like when they have a problem and need customer support).

For college ministers, the journey mapping process offers a whole lot of value for improving “member experience.” But I fear that many college ministers aren’t all that studied in the usual pathway for students in their organization, let alone for all the students who might come into contact with the ministry outside that normal pathway. When I interviewed 300-ish college ministers on my yearlong road trip, the “usual student pathway” question was one I asked regularly – inquiring about the road students tended to travel from first contact through the ministry’s various opportunities for assimilation, community, service, and leadership. It was rare for a college minister to clearly enunciate that common pathway, which certainly didn’t mean they were ignorant on the issue – but did mean it probably wasn’t something they thought about often.

But my point in asking that question was a little different than the point of journey mapping. The former (knowing students’ “usual pathway”) allows collegiate ministry leadership to tinker with helping students go deeper, and also to express best the hopes/expectations/opportunities for students in the ministry. The latter, journey mapping, more pointedly allows for empathy for what students experience… and with it, improvements in various parts of the “journey.”

I’ll chat more about journey mapping for college ministry this week, but hopefully this gets you started thinking. How clearly can you express what various students experience in trying to “navigate” your campus ministry? What do they experience as they try to gain the “hopes” I discussed yesterday?