I believe we are seeing a decline in the number of people doing College Ministry and feeling called to what I refer to as, "the high calling"? Friends who speak in or teach seminary Collegiate Ministry classes say the classes are much smaller....now 8 or 10 rather than 20 or 30. I was fortunate to serve in a College Ministry position where we had multiple staff members. When we had a vacancy, I would usually receive at least 20 resumes without much or even any effort. The word would spread before I even would start looking. I remember the time one man about to graduate from seminary told me he would come and work for free, if I would "hire" him. He had a wife and young baby. I couldn't do that. In recent years, I had to beat the bushes hard to get 4 or 5 resumes. Those responsible for hiring College Ministers for some of the larger more flagship College Ministries are having a harder time finding people with experience who can step into those roles and stay long term.
What has changed...are there fewer College Ministers....and if so, Why? I think it is not one thing, but a combination of events...some related...others more random.
-The emphasis on church planting seems to be drowning out the call to other ministries.
-The downsizing of budgets has eliminated some positions...AND giving the message, no College Ministry positions are out there, so don't even look.
-Many years ago some of the top College Ministers were women. That number has steadily declined due to a greater emphasis on being College MINISTERS. This connects to the debate within some circles of what roles women can fill in ministry. Also, many women have served in Associate roles and many of these positions have been eliminated due to budget cuts.
-In denominational College Ministry, there is a greater emphasis on College Ministers preaching every Sunday to help inform people and promote the denomination. This has had two effects:
1. College Ministers must be able to preach. In the past, many College Ministers did not see themselves as preachers or feel comfortable in that role. This requirement is moving some toward church staff roles where preaching is not part of the expectation.
2. Families of College Ministers report increased stress and strain on families due to a long hard week on campus and then husbands being gone all day Sunday to preach somewhere.....then, it's Monday again.
-As giving has declined in many situations College Ministers often don't have the medical and health care benefits that church staffs receive. So, as families have grown, braces are needed, etc, etc, church staff looks better and better.
This is discouraging....I don't like what I just read...and....I wrote it! What's the answer? Obviously,there is no easy and simple answer. Here's a couple of thoughts...none perfect:
1. If College Ministry is important, let's realize that we have to pay for what we want...you get what you pay for.
2. Consider more targeted College Ministries. Perhaps, it means going part time on some campuses in order to provide better salaries for staffers for the targeted campuses. I know the can of worms that opens.
3. If College Ministers have to preach every Sunday, every Friday is a no work day. Just be aware that you have cut the campus work time down. My church staff is off on Friday cause they work Sundays.
4. Give honor and blessing to College Ministers in every time and way possible. College Ministers often feel lonely and unappreciated. I was blessed to serve in a situation where I always felt appreciated and cared about.