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Missional Campus Ministry 1 (RJS)

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Yet another academic year approaches – yet another set of fresh new faces on campus. As we approach a the start of term I would like to renew the conversation on campus ministry we began last spring (You can find my initial salvo here).

As many here know I am a professor, at a large secular University, not a Christian college, and have been involved in academia for some 28 years as a graduate student, post-doc and professor. There is no doubt that the modern University is a mission field in many different ways – and a challenging mission field at that. This year opens a new window on the situation however, as I am also a parent sending my eldest off to college with her friends dispersing to a wide range of campuses and contexts.

Over the course of several posts – one or two a week – we will consider several aspects of University ministry. I intend to look at Chuck Bomar’s new book College Ministry 101: A Guide to Working with 18-25 Year Olds
and Benson Hines’s e-book (free on his site) Reaching the Campus Tribes.  I will also point to some useful on-line blogs and discussions beginning with Steve Lutz and The SENTinel (good thoughts and good discussion on this site).  I am open to suggestions for other good resources as well.

Before digging in however, I would like to open with some questions.

What are the biggest challenges in Campus Ministry today?

What should a missional campus ministry look like?

The answers to these questions will not be the same in all locations or situations. A state college in the midwest will have somewhat different concerns than one in the south or the pacific northwest. Primarily local state universities and undergraduate institutions will have different concerns than Global Universities – those identified worldwide by one or two words. Small private liberal arts colleges and Universities also span a wide range of situations and environments.

Steve Lutz has a series of posts this summer on The 5 Big Issues in Campus Ministry.  I found the one on Missiology particularly good reading.

MISSIOLOGY is the theology and study of missions. It acknowledges that campus ministry is a missions endeavor, and that North America is one of the biggest mission fields in the world.

Steve lists three specific concerns in missional campus ministry:

1. We need a missiology of our people-group, college students. This must include sociology, demographics, psychology, and worldview of college students. Who ARE we trying to reach, anyway?

2. We need a missiology of our context: higher ed/academia. This is a failure in my opinion of the old guard campus ministries, who tended to just look at reaching students without much interest in redeeming & renewing places and institutions.

3. We must also talk about what missional campus ministry looks like.

On this last I will include some highlights from Steve’s discussion:

Missional Campus Ministry orients everything towards reaching students with the Gospel of Christ, and equipping them for the missio Dei.

Missional outreach engages the “Defeaters” of the Gospel. Several culturally-based beliefs regularly combine to make Christianity appear implausible and literally unbelievable to non-Christians. … Missional ministry takes these objections seriously, and humbly interacts with those who hold them. Dealing with Defeaters simultaneously engages unbelievers, and models to believers how to engage in these conversations in informed, winsome, courageous, and most of all, loving ways.

Missional outreach doesn’t view evangelism as merely a program or activity. Missional is an adjective for everything that a church or organization does.

Missional outreach speaks in a language that the unchurched can understand. 

Missional outreach is familiar with, and engages the various “gospels” proclaimed in culture, particularly through movies, music, etc. 

And from his resources, especially Missional Campus Ministry & the Global University, Part 2

Missional Campus ministry will avoid  “the compartmentalization and relativization of faith to but one, private area of life, integrate Faith with all of life.”

[Tim] Keller notes: There is a surprising amount of anti-intellectualism within the evangelical world.  People have noticed for years that campus fellowships at Ivy League schools are very anti-intellectual and pietistic (A-I-P). In general, however, such A-I-P will not reach the people who tend to “make it” and stay put in city centers.

A-I-P is not limited to Ivy League schools. Missional approaches to campus ministry need to be unashamedly, rigorously intellectual.

Unfortunately, much campus ministry focuses only on the inner, “spiritual” life, and does not take seriously the need to shepherd students through the faith/intellect crises common to the college years. In fact, in the absence of counsel and discipleship, students often create a false dichotomy between faith and intellect. This is a disservice to them, and a “defeater” of Christian belief to nonChristians.

Missional campus ministry will …” hunger for things to be made right, be actively engaged in ministries of Mercy & Justice.

Here Steve and I part company ever so slightly. Steve is somewhat concerned with an overemphasis of mercy and justice – but I think that we need a balanced approach. A faith that is not manifest in love; concern for justice and mercy is not the faith that either Jesus or Paul proclaimed (not to mention James). We need to engage minds and souls, actions and lives. The hunger for things to be made right is not simply or primarily a means to evangelize, to bring people to God – it is participation in the missio Dei and as such it will bring people to God (accompanied, of course, by a proclamation of the gospel).

What do you think – what should a missional campus ministry look like in our largely post-Christian world?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.



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Rick

posted August 11, 2009 at 7:28 am


So glad you are returning to this topic.
“What are the biggest challenges in Campus Ministry today?”
-Lack of appreciation by the wider church (including parents) on how important and challenging this mission field is. We could change the scope and impact of Christianity with strong collegiate ministries.
-Unprepared high school seniors. They don’t own their faith, and don’t know what is about to hit them.
-Competing college lifestyles (unhealthy lifestyles) are constantly in the face of students.
-Competing college ministries, and poor church interaction.
-Lack of vision/goals. Are we just focused in helping them “get through” this period? The missional approach would certainly help with this.
Although it has not solved all the problems, a ministry like Veritas has shown how to engage intellectually with the collegiate culture (students and faculty), and shown how to have a clear goal/purpose.



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Greg Carey

posted August 11, 2009 at 10:23 am


A concern for justice can begin with an assessment of campus life. The university isn’t a cocoon, and it has its own issues. I’m not suggesting an insular approach, just saying ministry should be context-relevant.



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Todd Engstrom

posted August 11, 2009 at 10:59 am


Scot,
Thanks for engaging this topic, as it is close to my heart and something I am quite passionate about. I wrote a series of posts in response to Steve’s “5 Big Issues in Campus Ministry” at that is summarized at http://toddengstrom.com/2009/07/18/the-5-big-issues-in-campus-ministry-innovation/. This set captures most of my thoughts on your question “What should missional campus ministry look like in our largely post-Christian world?” based on my experience in leading a missional, church-based campus ministry at The University of Texas at Austin.
I’m really looking forward to more of your thoughts!
Todd Engstrom



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Travis Greene

posted August 11, 2009 at 11:07 am


An additional challenge to college ministry is the turnover. You have maybe 5 years, tops, to invest in a student, and usually frequently less.
The question for me is how to interface college ministries with the larger church, so they aren’t ghettos of like-minded and like-aged people. Telling students they should also be involved in a church is not enough (I’m thinking of ministries that are not connected to a specific church community).



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Bo

posted August 11, 2009 at 11:17 am


I’m a student at one of the largest universities in America and have been involved with a few different campus ministries. The largest group on campus (which is also the largest nationally) is not missional at all. The priority is on “sharing,” telling as many other students about the four laws that will get you into heaven as quickly as possible. Students who join this organization are almost completley coming from YoungLife and other Christian high school organizations, as with most campus organizations, new converts are a rarity. The problem is that most students are pretty disinterested in the idea of a “personal” savior and hearing about how wicked they are. What has garnered the most positive reactions from the non-Christian students is when an organization takes a stand on an important global issue (not gay marriage or abortion), such as the AIDS initiative. I think students want to be a part of something that can create a meaningful impact in the world, they want to be a positive force in the world, which doesn’t mean necessarily changing people’s beliefs (if it does I would hope it is through our actions that people decide to aspire to the ways of Christ, not our spiritual laws and formulas). In fact, the irony is that when it comes to being missional, several humanist groups on campus far surpass the Christian ones when it comes to doin things for the community- mentoring, trash cleanup, services for the homeless, etc. It’s a shame that campus ministry at my school, by in large, has been reduced to a weekly worship and seminar + bible study (o and the exclusive Christian rootbeer pong weekend tournaments). Who would really be interested in joining a bubble?



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RJS

posted August 11, 2009 at 11:22 am


Travis Greene,
Yes – there are only a few years to reach any individual in a college or university. But I think we need to take a longer term view as well. When planning curriculum for majors for example we are concerned with this class, but we are also concerned with building an ideal and sustainable structure.
It seems to me that campus ministry should put some effort in strategizing for impact on the institution, not just on individuals.



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Rick

posted August 11, 2009 at 11:35 am


Travis-
“The question for me is how to interface college ministries with the larger church, so they aren’t ghettos of like-minded and like-aged people.”
That is a tough question, and the solution may not be clear-cut.
On his blog, Benson Hines wrote:
“Some churches have opted to go the ?non-traditional? route by pointing students directly to their intergenerational structures, ?fully assimilating? them into the adult programs of the church. They plug them into small groups, Bible classes, or other activities alongside the church?s adults ? without any opportunity for small group discipleship as college students or specialized outreach to local college campuses….
…As I write in Reaching, the full-assimilation method ?certainly reflects a clear respect for college students as full members of the local congregation.? So on one hand, I applaud the motivation behind not separating college students and treating them as a distinct congregation (as one leader at a famous Emerging church described).
But for these highly missional churches, the funny thing is that this approach may be LESS missional in regard to those college students. Why? Because this method usually involves yanking them out of their actual community.”



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RJS

posted August 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm


Bo,
I think you hit on an important issue here with the “Christian bubble” approach. This approach may (does) provide an affinity group to shepherd students through the University – but it will never have a significant influence on either the University or the world.
Isn’t this why we need to be thinking about missional campus ministry?



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Brian J Musser

posted August 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm


As the campus minister at a large(ish) Private University in a huge city in the North East. There are some things that I think are key points of intersection with Campus Ministry, the Church and the larger world both inside and outside of the University setting.
1. Instead of trying to get students to connect with the church we really need try to get the church to connect to students. I think the key to this is through the degree paths they are seeking. The University is actively training students to be functional professionals in a certain field. As a campus ministry we need to come alongside the University and add to that the resources of the church and prepare students to be functional Christians in their field of choice. We do this by networking with Christian professionals in our churches. (Interesting note: This gap between the college world and the “adult” world does not only exist in the church is throughout our entire culture. The church is the only entity trying to do something about it.)
2. Instead of trying to get students to connect to an already existing ministry on campus, try to get them to start something in a part of the campus community that is not actively being engaged by the existing ministries. We need to use the four plus years of college to train students in how to be missionaries. The best way to do this is to get to function as missionaries on their campuses.



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Benson Hines

posted August 11, 2009 at 2:03 pm


Thanks for highlighting this, RJS. It’s much-needed, in large part because this area is much-ignored by American Christians.
College ministry does need to be much more missional – contextualizing, institution-integrating, strategy-building, longevity-aiming. But what Rick said in Comment #1 makes a huge difference here: Christians simply do not value this area enough. And I believe that prevents college ministers from ever planting the kind of “campus missions” that will most effectively impact student, campus, and world.
The rigor of church-planting and the contextualization practices of foreign missions are both needed to do this well. But a college minister requesting the funds and time needed for these things would be laughed out of the room – in churches especially.
So while we can give some ministries a hard time for focusing on “just” disciplemaking or “just” evangelizing or “just” gathering Christian students for community, it’s sometimes hard to blame them for focusing on individual-student-transformation with the resources (money, staff, time) they have and the demands placed on them by overseers and/or supporters. Even with approaches that are at times underdeveloped, college ministry has still made an amazing impact on people for the past many decades.
If Christians viewed foreign missions with the apathy we give college ministry, our impact over the last centuries would have been miniscule at best. If, on the other hand, we viewed college ministry with even a SMIDGEN of our appreciation of missions…



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Rick

posted August 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm


“This approach may (does) provide an affinity group to shepherd students through the University – but it will never have a significant influence on either the University or the world.”
But there does need to be efforts to continue to “equip” the students, including those that are more spiritually mature. Part of that needs to be self-fed, but part of that should be within a church or ministry context as well.



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RJS

posted August 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm


Rick,
Absolutely – but what do we mean by equip? Many groups seem to take the approach mentioned by Keller (quoted in the post) of anti-intellectual pietism. So there is effort to equip in prayer and devotion, and purity (esp. sexual), but not so much in intellectual engagement within the University or afterwards.
Have you read some of the conversation on Scot’s Atheist Delusions posts? One thing that comes home to me in the comments is the defeaters – especially intellectual defeaters – that combine to lead to a loss of faith on the part of many.



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Joseph Holbrook

posted August 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm


Good topic RJS, thanks for bringing it up. I wanted to comment this morning but didn?t have time. I am really surprised there are not more comments.
I am doing my dissertation on the topic of Catholic University Student movements in the 1950s and 1960s in Brazil, Cuba and Spain and I hope to teach in a public university when I graduate, so this is an important topic for me.
I personally think the difficulties goes way beyond ?campus ministry? or even ?ministry.? I have noticed that there are many young students who have been raised in the faith, but it never penetrated their heart and was never incorporated into their lifestyles. As you quoted from one of the authors, there is a gap between their faith and their intellect but there is also is a huge disconnect between their ?church? persona and their social ?persona.? Church have taught them certain external behavior patterns but have not helped them learn how to integrate their faith into their social lives in secular society.
All of the evidence seems to point to a huge drop-off of church going faith among the 20-something crowd. Serious thought and prayer needs to be given to this. This should not just be ?another? ministry of the church, but the very heart of the mission dei for the church to reproduce itself in a new generation?in this case, a postmodern generation.



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Barb

posted August 11, 2009 at 5:51 pm


I may be alone here, but in my community the college-aged people are either at the local community college or working or just drifting. I’m trying to engage my church in being missional to this next generation but most say something like “our college-aged kids are away at college” thus disregarding the vast majority in our community who do not go directly from high school to a 4-year university in another place (we have no 4-year college right here). I’m working part-time at the com. college now just to be there–most of the people in my church have no idea what its like in this college.



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mar

posted August 11, 2009 at 5:52 pm


i’m surprsied nobody has mentioned intervarsity, which has done a phenomenal job of creating a very effective, missional, and dynamic college campus ministry. i would recommend don evert’s book, “i once was lost: what postmodern skeptics taught us about their path to jesus”.
oftentimes i find that local churches invest a lot of time/resources into their local campus ministry when in fact they may not be the best equipped to do so. and then there are those churches who are more or less against the whole parachurch model and then try recreating the wheel by creating their own campus ministries.
many of the questions asked in this post are at the very heart of IV’s mission both on the local campus and the larger culture. many of my good friends have been or are currently in full time ministry with IV and i think God is doing awesome work through their faithfulness.



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Barb

posted August 11, 2009 at 6:00 pm


Mar,
I just assummed that the ministry group that Bo was referring to was IV



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RJS

posted August 11, 2009 at 6:16 pm


Barb,
I don’t know to which group Bo was referring – based on experience I had another guess.
But I know of very good IVCF groups and of ones that fall into the AIP (anti-intellectual piety) trap. It really depends a great deal on the local staff.



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Your Name

posted August 11, 2009 at 7:28 pm


Glad to see you starting this series, RJS. I agree with the general theme of your post — older models of campus ministry, which seem to emphasize rescuing individuals out of the university setting, need to encompass the broader Christian redemptive vision of learning. I tend to see the current emphasis on social justice ministries as a bit of a sidelight here. It’s an important, and very good, and deeply Biblical, emphasis, IMHO. But I’m not sure it’s the central way in which Mission in the universities needs to change. IMHO, one of the deeper problems is the heritage of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy for Evangelical campus missions. As some of the commenters have noted, some ministries, such as IVCF, have at various times and places done a very good job of moving towards a more integrative model of faith and learning, and folks such as Andy Crouch are doing some great writing along these lines. BTW, check out Andy’s book “Culture Making” for some really interesting self-critique of his prior work with campus ministries at Harvard. There are also interesting groups and events like the Q Conference and the Socrates Society in NYC.



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dopderbeck

posted August 11, 2009 at 7:29 pm


Oops, #18 was me.



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Rick

posted August 11, 2009 at 8:18 pm


RJS-
I am with you on the intellectual perspective, although I don’t think we should understate the overall temptations found in collegiate settings as well. Part of that draw can also be found in Scot’s atheist posts, the issue of a false sense of freedom.
That being said, I think the missional thinkers such as Keller (his stressing the intellectual approach as well as the importance of centers of culture), and Dan Kimball (stressing to his congregation the importance of being missional theologians) can help lead the way. That is not to diminish the good works of groups such as IVCF, Veritas, etc…



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mar

posted August 11, 2009 at 8:51 pm


I think Bo is referring to CCC, which is the main utilizer of the 4 spiritual laws in their outreach. A lot of campuses actually experience some tension between IV and CCC, but I think the mutual existence of both can serve a wide range of personality types and needs within a student body. Not all Christians are wired to think in the same post-modern way and it seems that CCC?s straightforward, black and white evangelism style has actually produced some good fruit. Competent staff certainly begets a competent ministry. Andy Crouch was my husband?s IV staffworker at Harvard, which still continues to have a thriving, intellectually rigorous campus ministry. I know that IV has a pretty structured system of leadership mentorship and discipleship, but I think it?s stronger in some geographic areas than others.
IV actually just had a faculty conference, which my husband just returned from. They did an in-depth study of Crouch?s ?Culture Making? and its implications for their respective academic disciplines. Perhaps Christian faculty and graduate students could take a more proactive role in influencing the intellectual culture of their institutions. College students have definitely made some valuable efforts (i.e. veritas forums) but I think grad students and faculty could be better organized to affect greater change on a systemic, institutional level.



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dopderbeck

posted August 11, 2009 at 9:33 pm


mar (#21) — I’m interested in what your sense is of what it means to “affect greater change.” This is a tension I feel as a Christian academic: I wonder if our talk of “change,” “engagement,” “transformation,” and so on has set the bar too high. Crouch addresses this in his book. Personally, I don’t think I have the capacity to change the culture of American law schools, and anyway, like any culture, I find a lot there that I think is worth preserving and enhancing. For me, I see involvement in more modest projects — like a “Religious Legal Theory” conference I’m helping to organize this coming November — as a way of creating little spaces in which something of God’s cultural priorities break in and hopefully inflect what we’re doing. I just wonder if too often our talk of “change” and so on is really a way of talking about “confrontation,” where the best missionary model isn’t necessarily so blunt.



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RJS

posted August 11, 2009 at 10:00 pm


mar #21,
I think that grad students and Christian faculty should somehow (and I have no clue how) take a more proactive role in influencing the intellectual culture of the ministries at their institutions – especially Christian faculty, as grad students are still on a steep learning curve.
I also think that campus ministry workers should seek advice and insight from Christian faculty – no they won’t always be right, or even helpful – but they do know the system and the University. But my experience with ministry staff is that most are not really interested in even talking with Christian faculty more than superficially. I found this surprising at first – but not any longer, and I think that I understand some of the reasons why.
InterVarsity faculty ministries are a step in the right direction, but there are still issues.



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mar

posted August 12, 2009 at 2:28 am


Hm, I honestly haven?t put too much thought into this topic (I?m a social sciences phd student) and I think it?s because I more or less resonate with what Crouch/dopderbeck says? that Christians can serve as individual agents of cultural production in our own immediate spheres?and hopefully the collective impact of that will be significant. I think there are ways to strategically organize those efforts and I think things like IV?s Emerging Scholar?s Network and the Mustard Seed?s Harvey Fellows program are two good examples.
I definitely agree that integrating efforts between students, scholars, staff, and ministers could potentially have huge impact but my hunch is that those groups may have different and perhaps non-complementary visions. I have a hard enough time trying to balance the tension between being an intellectual in an evangelical community and vice versa that I?m not sure how much mental space I have to do much more.
And I gotta admit, my husband and I (and some friends) were pretty turned off from our school?s IV grad fellowship because it actually seemed overbearingly ?intellectual? to us. As students and researchers, we wanted a respite from the constant hard analysis and find other like-minded folks that we could seek authentic, life-giving community with. I think the fellowship eventually dissolved, but it is interesting to consider how an ideal fellowship could strike that elusive balance between the heart, soul, and mind? while still being missional!



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mar

posted August 12, 2009 at 2:30 am


sorry, i cut and pasted that from a word document and the paragraph breaks didn’t come through.



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RJS

posted August 12, 2009 at 7:58 am


mar,
Interesting comments – and I think that they point to the different needs that people have from a campus ministry at different times. Working in this environment is hard. Your comment on just needing a respite is enlightening to me. One of the things that I struggled with as a grad student was an inability to find space to allow my faith and interaction with the faith to grow intellectually in a fashion that kept up with my academic growth. It has taken a long time to reach a reasonable balance – and I think that this mismatch is part of the reason that so many struggle with faith in grad school and beyond, but perhaps others find the experience somewhat different.
At this point I am not sure that integrating efforts between students, scholars, staff, and ministers is going to happen – but I wish that staff and ministers would approach campus ministry with professional attention and talk with faculty and scholars to gain insight into the culture and the institution.
You said – I have a hard enough time trying to balance the tension between being an intellectual in an evangelical community and vice versa that I?m not sure how much mental space I have to do much more. Many of us feel the same much of the time.



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Kelly

posted August 12, 2009 at 8:50 am


I think in some ways as we talk about campus ministries as para-church organizations, we need to think about them as para-university organizations as well. In other words, the role of a para-church organization (ideally) is to come alongside of and enhance the mission of the church in a specific area or niche if you will. As a para-university organization, it should come alongside existing Christians/structures in the university to enhance their mission in a specific area or niche. Instead, these organizations sometimes superimpose a model or a structure that may or may not have relevancy or mesh with the current students or campus structure.
What I’m trying to get at is that I think there are many students with great ideas for reaching out to people on their specific campus, but that lack resources to make it happen. These students have a passion for their classmates, and are the experts on the culture at that campus. Find a few students with ideas and vision, and come alongside them to support them in their ideas. Let them run with creativity, and provide them with resources (books, people knowledgeable in theology, the Bible, etc…) Encourage them, be a mentor to them. Let them decide the structure and the format, but encourage them to think “big” about what can happen on campus.
One quick example – I went to grad school at the medical campus of a major university. The Christian group had the traditional model – once a week Bible studies, etc… and the group ebbed and flowed, and never really took off. Students prayed with vision for a new approac, and now they host a weekly lunch lecture, with free lunch provided by churches in the community, medical doctors, etc… Topics include how to survive med school, the importance of community, integration of faith and learning, a Christian view of abortion/homosexuality, etc… It is a great encouragement to the Christians, and a great way to minister to non-Christians in a non-threatening environment. Plus free food, often homemade!
All it took was students knowing the environment and coming up with a great idea. The student had the idea, others had the resources, and it’s working with great success.



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dopderbeck

posted August 12, 2009 at 9:00 am


Something I wanted to mention — there is an exciting “new” model of campus ministry called “Christian Study Centers,” which try to be something of a bridge between CCFC / IVCF and the “intellectual” side of the academy. The Center at University of Virginia is outstanding (I put “new” in quotes because the UVA center has been around for a while) and it’s director is a great guy: http://www.studycenter.net/ There also is an excellent center at Amherst, run by an old college friend of mine: http://www.amherstcenterforchristianstudies.com/
For folks who are interested and perhaps feel something of a calling in this area, I’d encourage you to get in touch with the UVA folks. They’ll plug you in to what’s becoming a national network of centers.
And — if you’re in the NY metro area, and are interested in this sort of thing, I’d love to hear from you. I’ve had some inklings of ideas for something like this in the NYC / Mid-Atlantic region, but as other commenters have mentioned, I personally don’t have the time / ability to do it all myself. The first step seems to be finding a newtwork of interested people, and allowing it to start small from there. (Go to the Seton Hall University Law School Faculty page and you can find my contact info).



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Mike

posted August 12, 2009 at 3:53 pm


RJS,
I’d comment here-now- except I’m getting ready for welcoming new and returning students to campus. Your question is spot-on. I’ll return tonight if not tomorrow. Thanks for the patience.



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Rick

posted August 13, 2009 at 8:46 am


Dopderbeck-
Thanks for that link. Interesting ministry. I am curious if they would consider expanding to other locations.



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Benson Hines

posted August 13, 2009 at 12:30 pm


There are multiple Study Centers around the U.S., but like most areas of college ministry, this model is widely unknown because our knowledge of collegiate work outside our own regions or networks is so limited. In my trips around the country, it was common to find enormous, brilliant, or otherwise notable ministries completely unknown to most.
I believe Drew Trotter, the former head of Charlottesville’s study center, is working to help that format get established elsewhere. But like I said, there are several scattered around the U.S. But that one does seem to be widely regarded as the “big daddy” among those ministries.



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Chuck Bomar

posted August 13, 2009 at 3:03 pm


RJS, I really appreciate the time, energy, and clout you bring to this discussion.
My thought into this particular discussion is simple (I hope). When we talk about mission, the implication is we have an end goal in mind. I’m thankful for the ministries that have the end goal of making sure the students they poured their lives into for so long are connected to the life and body of a local church during, but especially after they graduate. This seems to be missional, with the end goal being the lifelong maturity of the people they’re working with. In other words, I think missional campus ministers don’t view themselves as the end, but rather as a means to an end. Local churches ultimately have the responsibility of walking alongside people for a lifetime – and I’m seeking to help the church realize the need to minister directly more to college-age people. Campus Ministries can, and do, play a huge part in this! However, sometimes the “mission” can become more about getting students to come to our ministry in the short term versus an understanding of the role and responsibility of local churches in the long term.
That to say a missional campus ministry, in my mind, works closely with local churches.



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Guy Chmieleski

posted August 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm


This is a great thread of conversation!
Thanks to all who are taking the time to read and post!
Chuck, I love your thoughts… I see our work as that of stewards of young – forming – lives…
We are blessed to walk alongside these young people during some critical/formational years and our task is to be available to be used by God in the lives of students!
We need to see ourselves as missionaries on campus – who point students to the local church…
Sure, we provide some college-oriented conversations, experiences, opportunities… but we ultimately want/need our students to be tied into the local church… because after they graduate, that’s what they’ve got!
Please keep up the conversation… and let’s find ways to work together, learn from one another, and grow in our ability to reach more on campus for the sake of the Kingdom!



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Todd Engstrom

posted August 14, 2009 at 9:29 am


RJS,
Thanks for posting on this topic and helping to stir the conversation around missional college ministry.
I would agree with Chuck that the local church must have a significant involvement in collegiate ministry, but more importantly our churches need to be training students to live as missionaries centered on the gospel, formed in community, and sent on mission. This involves thorough training in the person of God, a gospel-saturated worldview, and understanding how to engage the culture around them. Some would say that is a lofty goal for college ministry, but why not set the bar high :)?
There are a number of issues with this church-based, missional impulse in college ministry, and I’ve talked through the issue of integration vs. segregation of collegiate ministry at http://toddengstrom.com/2009/06/30/integration-vs-mission-exploring-college-ministry/, and wrote responses to Steve’s 5 big issues (summarized at http://toddengstrom.com/2009/07/18/the-5-big-issues-in-campus-ministry-innovation/).
Thanks again for posting this, and I hope there is more to come!



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posted August 14, 2009 at 10:14 am


Todd and others -
Definitely more to come. Next Tuesday opens a discussion of Benson Hines’s e-book.
My perspective is a bit different (faculty not student or Campus ministry worker in a professional sense in science at a secular university) but I hope that we can all learn from different perspectives. Scot’s perspective of course adds another useful view (faculty in Biblical studies at a Christian institution with ca. 50% non-christian students).



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