About

There’s more to come in college ministry.

This site shares thoughts for pushing college ministry forward.

If you want to learn from a diversity of ministries, if you don’t believe there’s just “one best way,” if you hope to discover what’s working with other groups (even outside your own “tribe” and region), then I think you’ll enjoy this.

Maybe you help oversee a number of campus ministries. Or maybe you’re a college minister on a single campus, but you’ve got a learning bent. You may even be considering starting a college ministry – in a church, on an unreached campus, wherever – and you’re intrigued by the idea of approaching it more like missions than like another “age-stage ministry.”

Exploring College Ministry was born out of a yearlong, nationwide road trip, exploring God’s work on college campuses. It reflects years of learning from hundreds of contexts, dozens of conferences, the best-known college ministry organizations and networks, and a lot of awesome smaller ones too.

About Benson Hines

Benson (that’s me) created Exploring College Ministry.

I had worked with college students directly for eight years before I took a yearlong road trip to examine college ministry – in its various forms – throughout the U.S.. I realized that college ministers rarely learn from those outside their own organizations or their own regions… so I decided to help that change. Since that amazing yearlong adventure, I’ve taken several other major trips, consulted with and spoken to college ministries all over the country, and otherwise sought to help the field of collegiate ministry thrive. All in all, I’ve visited 350+ college campuses and discussed college ministry with several hundred individual leaders.

I was first won to the world of college ministry at my alma mater, Texas A&M University. (Turns out, it’s seen the most well-developed campus ministry climate in the country.) Since then, my college ministry research and learning has included dozens of conferences, hundreds of pages of notes, thousands of blog posts, one widely circulated manifesto, and much more across two decades in the world of college ministry.

If you’ve been around college ministry long enough, you might remember the old Ivy Jungle conferences. They brought together folks from around the college ministry world. And they exhibited a deep appreciation for learning from various contexts and communities – even learning from ministries with different methodologies, distinctives, and theologies. I aim for Exploring College Ministry to reflect that approach and spirit – not simply because I want to “play nice” but because I think diverse learning produces better missions among the “campus tribes.”

Step by step, exploration by exploration, project by project, article by article, I hope to serve those in our field and help advance what we do. And now I’m hoping to bring others’ voices directly into this conversation.

You can learn more about the rest of my life at the bio on my personal page.

The Articles

As of Fall 2018, the near-daily blog of the past is transitioning into a longer-form blog, in hopes of offering more substantial thoughts for college ministry innovators and overseers. A lot of my articles will spring from things I’ve written before, collating, revising, and rebooting ideas from the past ten years in a more useful format.

More importantly, I hope to add articles from college ministry thinkers far beyond myself – if you’re interested in submitting an article, ask me for the guidelines first.

17 Comments

  1. Shane

    I was roommates with Benson at A&M for a bit. His undergradute degree description is accurate and true, however the rest of his profile information has yet to be confirmed.

  2. Ty Waardenburg

    small world , I am in the process of planting a Church at Ohio State and doing some research on college church plants, you were something I googles, after reading I realized I met you at the Ivy Jungle Conference. I need to be in conversation with you sometime, we are trying to put together a clear vision and I would love to learn about what different people are doing. I had also come across, the church plants in Boston, so I will get in touch with them.

  3. livegenerously

    Hi Benson,

    Your site was recently recommended to me, and I’m enjoying reading about your experience. I’m a college pastor at a church in Oceanside, CA, so I particularly enjoyed reading about your experience at different churches in San Diego the San Diego area. Thanks for the work that you’re doing, I’ve appreciated your insights into college ministry.

    -Brian Kiley
    College Pastor, New Song Community Church
    livegenerously.wordpress.com

  4. Benson,

    Interesting: My husband went to A&M & I went to HSU. We both are graduates of SWBTS. Currently, we work with college students in Gainesville, FL. Quite a different environment than Abilene, Bryan-College Station or Ft. Worth.

    DH

  5. Benson,

    Did you happen to pay New Life OSU (Ohio State) a visit on your trip? They have probably one of the largest, most successful college churches in the U.S. As of now, they’re connected with the New Life Network (based out of Gahanna, OH), but are in the process of (probably) affiliating with the SBC.

    Interestingly, I read your 2007 post about collegiate church planting in which you said that the SBC was moving toward collegiate churches vs. BCMs. However, talking with Jason (OSU) yesterday, he said the topic is a “firestorm” right now and that collegiate churches are frowned upon in the SBC at large, including in the denominational collegiate ministry leadership (the Ohio college ministry director is hoping to reverse this opinion, with NL’s help).

    Anyhow, I can’t help but wonder what would happen if denominations took their money out of campus ministries and put them into collegiate churches. NL-OSU’s success is an embarrassment to BCMs across the country and should serve as a wake-up call not just to Baptists, but to denominations and donors to campus ministries like IV and CC. I believe this is the next key move to being missional about reaching college students for Christ.

    His Kingdom come,

    Matt

  6. I didn’t get to see them – it seems like I might have heard about ’em, but I’m not sure. But that was a year ago.

    I don’t know the size of New Life, but there are several large collegiate churches in the U.S. – several hundred in attendance each week, probably, with longevity of decades. (Longevity is a major factor in determining success in many cases, clearly.)

    As for the SBC, I think the post you’re probably talking about is here: https://exploringcollegeministry.com/2007/11/30/the-collegiate-church-model-episode-one/. I only wrote that at that time, the SBC was tilting toward a church-planting model in Boston, and that was true. They certainly didn’t tilt that way nationwide.

    As for collegiate churches causing a “firestorm,” that’s probably overstating the case – college ministry isn’t important enough in ANY denomination to cause any firestorms. :) There are some church-based college ministers and campus-based college ministers who don’t love that model, some who are fans of it, and some who are happy where it excels and see it as one of several possible college ministry models.

    One of the things I gained from these trips the past two years was realizing how circle-centric we all can be: We know our circles, our networks, our regions, and we too often generalize from those. I definitely disagree that any form of ministry has been an “embarrassment” or a “wake-up call” to others – no one model has tested, widespread, significant . Remember, BCM has struggled in many places in Ohio, while OSU is far from “standard” among collegiate ministry situations in general (from what I could tell). So the success of a very different model isn’t surprising.

    As for people’s concerns about collegiate churches, the big issue for many people seems to be Ecclesiological, not Methodological. The best thing anyone can do who wants to advocate for that form is to present theological arguments alongside practical ones. If those get hashed out, those who have concerns will probably find that model more palatable! In general, that’s the kind of deep, solid discussion we need in the field of college ministry – as long as it reflects a understanding of the national scene. Like foreign missions, it’s a hard field to talk about without really wide exposure.

    I redirected this conversation back to that post, so the additional comments on this issue can be found here.

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