Ministry – whether its parish ministry, youth ministry, ministry in a mega church, or ministry in a community church – is all about getting to know your people.
When you do college campus ministry that truth does not go out the door. However, what you need to know about your people changes a little bit. Yes you still need to know your students personally. You need to know what makes those individuals tick. You need to know what their passions and likes are. You need to know where each student likes to hang out. You need to know what kinds of classes the students take, and who their professors are. However, knowing who your are ministering to goes a step beyond simply knowing students personally – you need to know the institution you are ministering in.
This might sound a bit strange, but its true….
College Campuses are a lot like people.
Yes, even though they are institutions, college campuses are a lot like people. They have history, they have tradition, they have a story behind why they were formed. They have little quirks about them that you can’t learn simply by reading up on them. They have things that they are passionate about and things that they really dislike. They have relationships with other schools. They have beliefs about what is right and what is wrong, what is valuable and what is worthless. Again this might sound weird – but college campuses are a lot like people so you better get to know your campus.
As you do ministry on campus here are a few questions you should ask yourself and others about your college:
1- What is your college’s story?
- When was the school founded?
- Why was the school founded?
- Who founded the school?
- What has each president emphasized during their term at the school?
- Did this school model itself after another school?
2- What cultural idols rule the school?
- What one word best characterizes your school (party, tolerance, free thinking, etc.)
- What are students passionate about?
- Does the school care about sports?
- What are the most popular majors?
3- How does the gospel address your school’s story and idols?
- What does the school (not just the students) assume the world should be like?
- What sort of behaviors does the school (not just students) deem as being wrong?
- What does the school think the “good life” consists of?
- How do they hope to accomplish or bring into existence the so-called “good life?”
As you go about ministering to students on campus, don’t forget, you don’t simply minister to students, you minister to an institution as well. That institution has its own story, its own idols, and its own version of the “gospel.” So ask these and many more questions about your school – doing so will help make ministering to your college a lot more effective.