College Ministry: More Questions Than Answers

The following is the first conversation in the College Ministry: Conversations and Context series. For more information about this series click here.

If you want to get me going ask me what I think about the future of campus ministry.

I’ll start by presenting a few exploratory questions:
• What are some current big picture issues related to college/university ministry?
• What do you see as the greatest changes in campus ministry in the past decade? At this moment? Looking forward?
• What is unique about the current generation of students?
• What is unique about the current setting of colleges and universities?
• What is unique in the life of the church at this moment and how can the church intersect with the lives of students?
• What is unique about the current ministry in a mainline setting, especially in relation to campus ministry? What do we (PC USA) have to uniquely offer in and through college ministry?

Far from answering the questions I’ll set forth the following as areas as a beginning list of topics for further explorations:
• Cultural shifts, post-modernism
• Post-Christian and/or post-church culture
• Church shifts
• Future of “church”
• Extended adolescence, “Organization kids,” “Me” generation
• Shifts in family composition, structure and parenting styles
• Financial shifts/Cost of college
• Future college delivery systems
• College for all – dumbing down…
• Sexual orientation
• Exclusivity of Jesus
• Stress as an accepted lifestyle
• Technology and related communications and connections
• Interdependence
• Relativism
• Globizalization
• Deconstruction
• Biblical illiteracy
• Over-choice
• Spirituality vs. organized religion

Looking ahead:
• What do we think the future will look like?
• How can we lean into that future (Living in the “now,” preparing for what’s ahead and being able to adjust to the revealed reality)?
• Are we willing to take risks to do something that has never been tried before?

A partial, in process, list of suggestions for connecting with and ministering with college students:

• Learn to ask great questions.
• Focus on whole life faith.
• Help people transition to adult faith
• Offer a connection with, glimpse and taste of the Holy.
• Be active on varied levels. Actively thinking, feeling and caring for the world.
• Capture community, and be a place of acceptance and belonging.
• Think future.
• Take risks.
• Try again.

Hopefully this can get a conversation started – will you join in?
May God have mercy on us all.

Jim Schmotzer focuses on helping others maximize life and leadership through Jim Schmotzer & Associates.

He has served as the executive director of a congregational-based campus ministry, on the staff of a local church, as a camp/conference program director and public school teacher. He has additionally taught grad school education courses and community parent education. He has written for numerous publications including: Leadership, Group, Christian Camp and Conference Journal, Church and Youthworker. His poetry and micro-fiction can be found at The Faithful Skeptic.

He lives in Bellingham, WA with his wife Connie. They have two adult sons: Kyle (married to Sarah) and Michael and four grandchildren.

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