Campus Ministry: Competing or Complementing?

If you spend much time around me in the right contexts, you would probably catch on pretty quickly that I ask a lot of “What if?” questions. I do it because I can’t help but do it. I’m a Maximizer by nature. That means I’m always on the lookout for things that I can improve. Nothing drains me more than having to take something awful and make it mediocre. Nothing energizes me more than taking something good and making it great. I also really don’t like doing anything just to do it. Especially if I don’t feel like I have a good reason for doing it in the first place.

One question I started asking while I was serving as a College Pastor / BCM Starter in Northeast Ohio related to the overlap of what I was doing in my two roles. How much of what I’m trying to do in my campus-based ministry is the same thing that my church is trying to do? It became vividly obvious to me one semester while I was still the one to lead the campus small groups (5 to be exact – I could talk all day about why that was a terrible decision) and I was still teaching Sunday School at my church. In order to manage that many groups (some were as large as 12, others were 1–4) I used the same material for each one. One thing to prepare, 5 times to teach/facilitate it. It was exhausting (again, bad decision) but I made it work, at least somewhat. The trouble was when I had students showing up to both a campus small group and to the church Sunday School class. I never invited many students to the Sunday School class because they were already in a campus group. All things considered, it wasn’t that big of an issue. But it did cause me to think more clearly about my roles and the points of friction between them if I didn’t give close enough consideration to each role and the objectives that went with them.

I still believe in collegiate ministry. And I still believe that students need to be committed to a local church. But as campus ministry people, I think it would be wise for us to think more clearly about what we are doing on campus to unintentionally compete with local churches and what we are doing to complement the local churches?

The preliminary answer I would give is taken right out of my previous blog post (Breaking Twitter with Collegiate Innovation). We need to shift from making students our mission to developing students to BE the missionaries. HOW we do that is up for debate. I for one love this conversation and I believe our ministries are better for it.

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