[S]tarting college ministry “as usual” isn’t working well. And there is a cost to our trial and error. Both resources and goodwill (of participants, other students, campus authorities, and community members) can be diminished by ineffective attempts.

…Right now, the entire practice of building new church-based college ministries seems rather hit or miss, and this is hurting Christ’s cause among students. We need a different “usual.” -from my book, Reaching the Campus Tribes, page 29.


How well can you answer these questions?

  • Have we left a “ministry gap” between the youth group and our adult ministries?
  • How well do our youth group graduates succeed spiritually after high school?
  • Could we build a full-fledged college ministry?
  • If we never have a full, paid-for college ministry, could we still impact and involve students in really meaningful ways?
  • If a college student approached our church’s Welcome Center, would people know how to connect her to the church?
  • How many people who grow up in our church will make it their church home for the rest of their lives?
  • What aspects of our church might connect well with college students? What might turn them off?
  • Are we really serving college students as well as we possibly can?

What should we do?

While every church should have a Plan for the college students it encounters (including students who grew up in the church), what that Plan looks like will differ for every single church. One of the first mistakes many churches make is too quickly limiting their options.

What can we do?

After looking at what churches and other college ministries are doing all over the country, I’ve seen numerous possibilities for ministering to college students. Some Plans can require a big investment, but many good Plans don’t. Some Plans could involve hundreds of students; others will mean deeply impacting a handful of students at a time.

But determining what can be done with the situation we have… that’s the tricky part.

What do we have?

My guess is that many churches aren’t able to answer the above list of questions very well. And sadly, even parents, youth pastors, and other church leaders might not realize everything the church could offer college students right now.

Sadly, many churches spend years trying to get this together – through a succession of volunteers, staff members, “new visions,” big ideas, new worship services, small classes… but far too many churches, in the end, don’t have a lot to show for it.

What if there’s a better way to get started? (Click here)

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