This summer, you’re likely taking stock of your college ministry – or at least the last year’s worth of college ministry activities. But here’s one avenue worth taking that evaluation down:
What niches does your college ministry cover in the campus ecosystem?
Nearly every college ministry covers some sort of “niche,” if all that means is that each ministry has an identity, geography, or focus that means certain kinds of students are more likely to participate than others. Even a giant ministry tends to skew in some direction – even if it’s simply skewing away from students who want a more “homey” or “personal” experience.
Maybe we should call this a “quasi-niche.” It’s not that leadership has chosen to focus on athletes (like FCA has) or on International Students. It’s simply that, over time, one or more “pockets” of students have tended to drift toward your ministry. There may be plenty of involved students not in those pockets, too, but it’s clear the ministry has found a foothold among a certain population or two.
For many college ministries, the quasi-niche can get pretty specific. The ministry may be more likely to draw intellectual types. Or athletes. Or socially awkward people. Or students of a particular ethnicity. Or students who truly prefer a smaller community. Again, the campus ministry (in this case) didn’t set out to draw only this type (then it would simply be a niche-based or niche-focused college ministry from the start). Instead, it has become that way, probably for a variety of factors.
The point of this post is: Have you gotten honest about your quasi-niche(s)? Just like an individual is encouraged to “know themselves, like themselves, be themselves,” so your college ministry will be much more effective as it “knows itself” – and comes to appreciate what God has wrought. So whether it’s through outside observation or really honest introspection, how about taking some time this summer to consider who populates your campus mission? You may realize more about its identity than you ever have, and that’s a great foundation to build a new school year on.