This week, I’ll be speaking at the Sentralized gathering in Kansas City. In preparation for the conference, the House Studio (my publisher, helping to put on the conference) asked me to respond to a few questions about the writing of College Ministry. The interview originally appeared here.
How have people been implementing the principle/practices from the book?
One of the joys of writing the book has been the chance to hear from my fellow practitioners how they’re using it in the field. I’ve heard from people all over North America (including the Great White North), Australia, Europe, even places I wouldn’t have thought of as college ministry hotbeds, like Bosnia. It’s crossed all kinds of denominational lines as well. One of the most common statements has been “Thank you for putting into words what I was thinking, but didn’t know how to say.” I’m hearing a lot of people working towards changing their “scorecards” for ministry, which is a big deal in the college ministry world, because we’re big on traditional metrics of nickels and noses. Our noses generate our fundraising for nickels. So for people to say, “you know, a gathered large-group meeting is not the be-all and end-all of our ministry” is a big deal!
I’m also hearing people emphasize identifying and reaching the people groups on their campus through missional communities. That idea has really taken off on campuses. I see people being more intentional about partnership with local churches and not becoming the “parasitic parachurch,” (to borrow Neil Cole’s phrase).
Related to that is a desire to not just engage Christian students with spiritual disciplines, but to bless the entire University and community, to see it flourish, in a Jeremiah 29 sense.
Finally, I see an emphasis on equipping students for lifelong faithfulness, not just getting the most out of them to fuel our ministry machines during the college years.
Do you see applications from the book to other areas of ministry in/through the church?
Absolutely! One of the most frequent comments in reviews I’ve read is that “this book applies to anyone who cares about reaching young people.” So that means youth ministers, pastors and leaders with 20somethings in their churches, and really anyone who’s interested in where the church is heading in the next generation.
There was a time when college ministry was one of the most creative, innovative places in the Body of Christ. I can’t really say that’s the case now. But I’m hopeful that a renaissance is taking place. I think we may be at the leading edge of a renewed movement to treat college ministry as the incredible mission field that it is. I see an increased interest and urgency related to college ministry, and really good, sharp people are giving serious time, attention, and resources to it. Reaching college students isn’t just a job for some specialists in a handful of big name parachurch organizations; it’s the job of the Church, and it’s time we got after it. I think we could get back to being one of those places that set the pace for the rest of the ministry world, where people look to us for ideas and to see what God is stirring up. That’s what I’m hoping, praying, and working for.