There is a new “gadget” out (well, I’ve never heard of it) that is, well, interesting to say the least! It’s called, “Nabaztag.” It claims to be a new community of “rabbits.” Like I said, interesting. Watch this intro that explains all this thing does. Would you want one?
I have been asked to elaborate more on Appendix B of my book College Ministry 101, which speaks directly to church-based leaders who are working in a college town where campus ministries are present. This issue can be a major tension for church-based leaders. Do I go on campus? Surely the answer is yes. But unfortunately there does seem to be a sense (for lack of better terms) of competition – or to some degree an ora of “what are you doing here, this is where I’m working.” At least that’s been the majority of my experience as a church-based leader – and many others I’ve worked with. There are however, of course, campus ministers that are not only “open” to church-based pastors coming onto campus, but actually initiate and help cultivate that. I think this relationship needs to be cultivated much more and I will likely write a book on how this can happen at a later date.
That said, I’ve been asked (via twitter request) to elaborate on that specific Appendix and so I will do so (if you have not read it, click here). I will attempt to give some perspective on campus ministry from a somewhat outside point of view. I have certainly been a part of campus ministry, served in numerous and worked alongside dozens and dozens of others. I have, however, never led one personally. So, hopefully an outside opinion will be taken, not as a critique, but as helpful insights into some potential areas (much of which I’m sure people have already thought through and are implementing).
The specific request was for me to give some more insights into how a campus ministry can be more discipleship focused and how assimilation can work – rather than give programmatic insights. I’m thankful, as I’m not into giving those – as you know if you’ve read my book. So, let me begin this series of blogs by issuing one thought regarding the assimilation side. I’m trusting many of you (church-based and campus-based leaders) will jump in and give your thoughts…
Thought #1 for campus leaders: Clarifying the goal of your ministry. You may make a broad statement like, “Make disciples,” “to glorify God,” or something to this affect. Certainly not bad goals and we all have broader, more general statements like that. I would however issue you another, hopefully helpful and very specific goal as a campus minister (that by the way, would accomplish both of the above broader statements): to connect college students to the beauty of being a part of a local church. Why? Well, ultimately they will leave your ministry. People will need to connect to a local body if they are going to continue to mature and campus ministries have a crucial role in this. So getting people to come to or be a part of a campus ministry surely cannot be THE goal. I don’t think anyone would admit that this is the goal (or at least I hope not), but our actions often prove differently. More on that in a minute.
We have to prepare these students for a life of being a disciple and campus ministry can play a vital, yet small, part in the life long discipleship of an individual. So, naturally, if connection to a local church is the goal then EVERYTHING we do in our ministry ought to work toward this end. This is true in any organization.
I will say this: I think the heart of many campus ministers is to prepare their students for a life of being a disciple of Christ. I will also however say: many of the methodologies of campus ministries are undermining what they say they desire to do. How? Well, first off, I think it shows in that a ton of time/energy/resources are put into attracting people to the events and gatherings of the campus ministry itself – especially in comparison to connecting students to the local church. So, maybe not in words, but at least in action there are ways in which our methodology can actually undermine what we’re saying.
I will say that having methodologies that often undermine our words is not a “campus ministry” issue, it’s more of an overall leadership issue we all face.
There is (in general) a lack of intentionality from both ends – campus ministries and church based – building ongoing relationships with each other. I know some hairs are standing up right now and I’m sure some people will say, “Hey! We are doing that!!!” I agree, I’m just saying there needs to be much more initiation on both ends – church-based and campus-based leaders – on initiating this connection. If we can’t be in relationship, truly like-minded, unselfish, and completely Kingdom minded we’re robbing the life-long discipleship process of our students. I will also take this a a step further and say that the relational connection needs to be the focal point of everything we do.
Working toward this can be intentional, but I would say it cannot be “programmed.” In short, I think you can take all the advice I gave in Appendix B to a church-based leader and flip it around to be written to a campus ministry leader.
So, to guide discussion let me ask the following: Church-based leaders, what are the road blocks, tension points, fears, you have engaging campus leaders? And, for campus leaders: What do you think about the goal I’m suggesting for your ministry? And, what are your thoughts on my concerns regarding methodology?
Well, I think that “opens enough cans” for now, this discussion should be fun…
For training in the trenches of college ministry click here.
In this video I discuss three movements I’ve seen that are needed in student ministry – this is a Youth Specialties podcast I did for those serving in student ministry and desire to prepare their kids for life after youth group (i.e. college-age years). However, I think these are certainly movements we need to be focusing on in college ministry, for sure. So, hopefully these will give you some insights that stretch your philosophy of ministry…
It shouldn’t shock you to know that community college’s across the US are growing rapidly. There are, in my mind, two major reasons why the number of students attending these schools is increasing:
- The economy. They are less expensive per credit, plus most students can remain living at home decreasing living costs.
- Lack of clarity. Most graduating high school do not have a clear picture of what they want to do for a career. Community college allows them more time before they have to declare a major. They get essentially the same education, but less expensive and with little commitment. Plus, they can transfer as a junior more easily than get in as a freshman to many schools.
The interesting thing is most college ministries haven’t figured out how to reach commuter campuses. Even most para church campus ministries don’t focus on them. That to say, this is a mission field that is essentially untapped. Also, I’d say that the majority of churches work in this context – most are not close to major university campuses. I did include an Appendix in College Ministry 101 on this that may be of assistance to you. You can also read an article here about the challenges of commuter schools like this.
Although it’s yet to be seen how accurate it actually is, it’s fun to know there is a new show on NBC coming up called, “Community.” It’s all about community college life – supposedly. However “theatrical” they need to make it to be successful, I’m sure there will be a lot of accuracy in regards to culture. I think we’ll be able to relate it to “The Office” and shows like this that have moments of insight that create the humor. Of course The Office has some interesting characters that also add to the humor (of course).
If you want to check out some of the trailers for this new show, click here. But, I thought I’d include one for you below (actually there’s two). I will also be issuing reviews of the show from time to time (if not week to week). I’ve worked mostly with community colleges, attended one myself for two years, and have worked with hundreds and hundreds of students attending them. So, I’m excited to see what the show is like and potentially has to offer in regards to insights (if any) into the life and mindset of those attending community colleges. Higher Ed has an article about some concerns, you can read that here.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen anything like this. The amount of hours poured into this…whew!
Being a leader isn’t always easy. Sometimes you feel like there’s nobody you can talk to that really “gets it.”
Often times it’s extremely lonely. People can think you’re too busy to join in on something they’re doing so they never ask. Other times when they do it gets weird because you turn into the “answer man” – or even worse nobody talks about everyday life because they feel like they need to have some deep spiritual conversation because you’re there. Regardless, you feel on the outside of things.
Leadership is busy. Very true, however we can often feed this perception because we like “being busy.” There’s something inside us that likes a ton of phone calls, a lot of emails and voice mails. We feel wanted – or needed. But then this eventually wears off and you dread the emails and phone calls. You start to shut off your phone more, you may even put on an automatic email reply just so you don’t have to reply immediately. In other words, once you actually are really busy you wish you weren’t so much.
Leadership has some real dangers. There are many, but I’ve been thinking about one danger that I wanted to address here. As a leader our mind and mouth are used a lot. We think and pray through things and then communicate the vision of where we feel like God is taking us. The danger in this? When our mouth’s are used to such a capacity our ears can often shut down, or at least tune other voices out. This is very dangerous for a leader (or anyone). We think we always have something to say when in fact the truth is we should probably be listening more than speaking.
May we be humble, having ears to hear what God is saying – directly to us personally and through the mouth’s of others…
The CollegeLeader Conference is coming up…quickly. I wanted to let you know about a new addition for this year. The weekend has all kinds of roundtable discussions, workshops, and of course larger group gathering times. But, we’ve gotten some requests from people that live closer to the area that are not able to stay for the full weekend. So, we’ve added a Friday Day Pass! You can come all day Friday, be involved in all the options of the conference and get 3 meals for just $79. So, if the weekend is too much, you may want to consider this option. Click here for more details…
Belief.net just posted a blog titled, “Missional Campus Ministry” and it’s focused on my book College Ministry 101. The writer, who goes by “RJS” read it and offered some thoughts on it. I’d recommend you read it and possibly join the conversation over there. Check that out, here. Always good to hear other people’s thoughts on it…
Interested in more training for college ministry? Click here
As part of our ministry at CollegeLeader we’re going to begin doing a few video blog/podcast/tip thing-a-majiggers (not sure how to write that out). With the school year coming up, I thought I’d issue a few thoughts for getting onto campus – especially for those of you who serve in a church-based ministry. Here are 3 tips for getting on campus – in somewhat back door type ways…