A question many church-based leaders of college ministries face this time of year and throughout the fall is: should I connect my students to a campus ministry on campus or a local church ministry? There are a few tensions here that need to be recognized:
1. Everyone says we need to be involved in a local church, but many lose contact after engaging with a campus ministry. Also many, although it’s tough to put numbers on it, who attend Christian colleges that provide everything a local church does (chapels, accountability partners, small groups, bible classes, etc) also lose touch. This is just a fact.
2. I have noticed most campus ministers say they value the local church, but tend to develop structures on campus that hinder people from engaging in a church (although not intentionally) versus structures that are pushing people to be involved and to be connected to one. I recently wrote about this in my column in Youth Worker Journal.
3. Those that disconnect from the local church during their college years, even though they are engaged on campus with Christian community, tend to have a hard time reconnecting back into the local church after they graduate.
So, here are some thoughts for those who are church-based:
- Continue to encourage people to be involved on campus. There is amazing peer-to-peer connections to be made and huge evangelistic opportunities on secular (and even some Christian campuses) to be had.
- Continue walking alongside students, even if they are thousands of miles away. Keep in touch, call, text, email, Facebook, tweet, instagram….use this resource, keep in touch and allow them to see there is someone in a local church context that believes in the local church and still cares for them.
- My advice is, and you may disagree here, if a student has to choose between being involved on a campus ministry or a local church ministry for whatever reason, tell them to be involved with the church.