Last night I stumbled across a gold-mine on Twitter, a day late I might add. It all started with this question from Brian Frye. The question following this agree/disagree question was, “What implications will this have for collegiate ministry?”
The following discussion was lengthy, and it may have even broken Twitter. I couldn’t help but compile some of the highlights of the Twitter-conversation and make some comments. These are some sharp people asking good questions!
The collegiate landscape is shifting, sometimes in subtle ways, and sometimes in dramatic ways. Change is the only constant. However traditional or non-traditional college campuses may be, and however welcoming or unwelcoming they may be to our ministries, we do what we do because higher-ed students are the single most strategic mission field in the world. There will always be a place for ministry to college students.
The Shift: From mission to missionaries.
One key factor in this conversation is this shift. If we can move from planning and executing programs to developing and deploying missionaries, we will have a significant impact on our campuses.
There’s more than one way to reach a campus, and one large group isn’t necessarily the best answer. Business/Management guru Peter Drucker famously said that what gets measured improves. As collegiate ministry leaders we measure things. Just like most leaders (of just about anything). What we measure is vitally important to what results we actually see.
The easiest thing for us collegiate people to count is the attendance at large-group gatherings. It’s the most visible, energy-packed, resource-heavy aspect of most of our ministries. Our ministry name refers primarily to our weekly large-group gatherings and not much else. As Cole said, focusing too much on our weekly worship large group gathering can hide the true story of what God is doing, and for most of us, the weekly worship large group gathering isn’t going to be what reaches our campuses. Notice the emphasis in the tweets below. Bigger isn’t necessarily more virtuous than smaller.
It can be tough trying not to get caught in the current each semester, only to drift through to the end without serious reflection. Sometimes the best thing we can do is slow down long enough to ask difficult questions about the things we take most for granted. One of my values I communicate to my team is a freedom to question sacred cows. The biggest “sacred cow” of them all is the large group gathering. There are good reasons for this, but as you can see from the last string of tweets, God is working even in ministries that cut out weekly worship. It is exciting for me to see how people are innovating ministry on college campuses. May we never settle for “this is the way we’ve always done it.”