Campus Ministry: A ministry Beyond itself

This week’s posts are dedicated to my friend Don Shockley, who 22 years ago published a book by a similar name.

This week, I wish to consider what are the ways we are more than just a minister on campus, but act as a minister who reaches out to all persons in our churches.  We have to stand at crossroads ands bridges, we have to go beyond just working with students who are on campus, but to a holistic sense of the pre-college expectations and the post-college transitions.

Here We Go.

Mind The Gap: Bridging the Befores and the afters of campus ministry 

            Part I

 

I used to attend the Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry every year.  I think I’ve been to it four times.  It originally attracted me because I was once a youth director,  but the reason I kept going often because I thought youth ministers and campus ministries needed to be in conversation.  I watched legends of the field of youth ministry give great techniques and unbelievable ideas about how to help youth ministry function and grow as a part of the church.  But I never saw anything beyond the waving goodbye when they went to college.

I’ve always felt as though campus ministry needed to be more imbedded with this transition.  It’s important for us to help students not only decide upon college, but get them to the college experience.  We needed to be there to welcome them not just when they got on campus, but from the moment they decided to make the big leap.

My question for today becomes how do we mind the gap of the transition from high school to college.  What are your thoughts?  How might you consider your role?

For me, I look to two important transitional opportunities that might be considered part of our role as campus ministers.

The first is transitioning them from high school to college.   This issue is challenging, but manageable.  Perhaps we plan to host a night and invite students to come and talk about the transition.  Perhaps we advertise that we will attend graduation parties if invited or graduation Sunday’s to preach at local churches.  What kinds of things do you do?

This process is not simple, as it requires a lot of communication between youth directors and churches with the campus ministries.  Do we only want to help those coming to our university?  Do we have a network that is set up to get contact information to the campus ministers about these potential students?  Do we even want to sign them up or should they be free to make their own choices?  Is your campus ministry website visible for high school seniors?  Do they even know you exist?  What other questions would you ask?

Finally, the process continues right up until they get to school.  How do you connect with them over the summer?  How does your community of students make sure they feel welcome even before they come to college?  What kinds of things do you say to parents and guardians to help them?  These are all questions I would love to hear from you about?

The second thing is a growing trend but one I believe to be important. This is the getting the students into college.  In certain areas, the thought or ability of high schoolers to get to college is still  uncertain.  We still have a lot of students who will go on to work right after high school because no one ever helped them find a way. But in today’s world, where we each know the value of the educational system that is driving the workplace, we as campus ministers have an obligation to help try to get students to college.

So how would we go about this?  Would you consider your role that you might have to be the admissions counselor for these students, the connecting and networking person who has the relationship with admission and financial aid in order to help these students find the available scholarships?  Have you yourself felt comfortable enough to fill out a FAFSA in the last 5 years?  Do you honestly know how much it costs to go to school at your university or even at some of the other universities around the state?

Also, do you have time to help these individuals and to put yourself out there to help them?  In what ways might we as campus ministers come to prepare local churches for this by connecting them to strong admission counselors and even to our campus ministries through informational brochures on these things?

We’re becoming a ministry beyond itself this week.  We’re looking for new ways that we have to move in order to fulfill the role of campus minister.  We’re expanding, giving breath to new things that campus ministers might do to help with the process of college.  So join the conversation, please comment, and please help us find new ways to be the campus ministers of the 21st century

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