How One Question Changed my Perspective on Ministry

We are hard at work trying to catalyze movement at Appalachian State and graduate movement catalysts for the rest of the world. ASU is the flagship university of Northwestern NC and one of the top-tier schools in the state. It’s our primary context for making disciples, but it is only one of 14 campuses across this corner of the state. The 18,000+ students of ASU are just one segment of the 83,000+ students in our region. We are realizing that what we do at ASU isn’t very likely to translate well to the wildly different campus cultures in our region.

  • Appalachian State University
  • Lees McRae College
  • Lenoir Rhyne University
  • Catawba Valley Community College
  • Caldwell Community College, Watauga
  • Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, Hudson
  • Wilkes Community College, Wilkes
  • Wilkes Community College, Alleghany
  • Wilkes Community College, Ashe
  • Mayland Community College, Spruce Pine
  • Mayland Community College, Newland
  • Mayland Community College, Burnsville
  • McDowell Tech Community College
  • Western Piedmont Community College

If you were counting, 11 of the 14 campuses in our region are Community Colleges, and a number of them are satellite branches of lesser-known Community Colleges. The No Campus Left team has reported that roughly 80% of the 1.2 million college students in North Carolina are Community College students – 80% of our campuses in the list above are Community Colleges.

These schools are as different from the “flagship” state school as they can be. We cannot simply port over what we do at ASU to the rest of these schools. We engage heavily in the dorms at ASU. Not only do most of these schools have no dorms, the majority also lack a student union or some other on-campus gathering space. One other key thing Community Colleges often lack is community. They are in, of, and for their local community, but they have no community of their own. The key connection points we leverage on a state school campus are non-existent on most Community College campuses.

When we made the shift from ASU BCM to BCM of the High Country, we recognized that these campuses would never have a gospel presence pop up without someone targeting them specifically. Why shouldn’t we adjust our vision and mission to include them? At first, I assumed that we would raise up a full time, (or part-time if necessary) staff to lead the new work at each new campus. While that works just fine at the state school level, it makes a lot less sense at a smaller or mid-sized Community College.

To help me get my head around more than one campus, I needed to be able to see where the unengaged campus fields were. I created a simple Google Map of all the campuses in our region, where there was little or no gospel engagement happening. A list is one thing; a map is another thing. The start icons represent the 3 residential schools and the rest are Community Colleges.

“What is it going to take to engage every campus on this map with the gospel so that there’s #NoCampusLeft without a reproducing gospel presence in our region?”

I’ve addressed this question as it relates to ASU – my primary campus. This question forced me to recalibrate my expectations of what gospel engagement and the reproducing gospel presence would look like when I broadened it to all the campuses in our region. This is the beginning of our journey on this mission. The broadening of our vision is forcing me to get outside of my perspective as a campus minister and start thinking more like a missiologist and a movement catalyst.

What would it take for you to engage other campuses around your primary target?