Thom Thornton, College Minister at Vanderbilt, said he was in a meeting the other day when the question was raised, "Are there any materials written on college ministry revitalization?". There has been a great deal written on church revitalization, but I know of nothing related to College Ministry. Others when asked have also come up with zero. Mark Whitt, Southern Baptists College Ministry leader, when asked said he might have to write that book that night instead of going to bed.
Here are 10 thoughts I have. You notice I don't say principles, rules or even ideas. These are thoughts. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I say my thoughts out loud....not even I agree with them. So, let's see.
1. Attempt to build a team of concerned churches to share in this revitalization project.
-They can provide prayer support.
-They can provide volunteers to lead Bible Study Groups, etc. When there are no strong upperclass leaders, it may be necessary to utilize non-students in some roles normally filled by students.
-They can provide some resources such as money or food for special events or Outreach Lunch Programs.
-They may have students in their church who could be an instant plus.
2. Enlist alumni and other interested individuals for support and resources.
-One area of need during a revitalization is continued emotional support for the one leading it. This can be tough and lonely.
3. The leader must be willing and committed to investing long term.
-Three years is the minimum time for a commitment of the leader. It takes three classes that have come in under the current philosophy of ministry to begin going full speed the same direction.
4. Focus on Freshmen.
-I would develop a full force, intentional Freshmen Ministry aimed at freshmen needs, etc.
-Often in a revitalization, upperclassmen who have been in the ministry previously are the biggest opponents of any change or movement toward reaching more students.
5. Build or repair relationships with the college or university administration.
-There are people who can open or close doors for any college ministry.
-Sometimes college administrators have a bad taste from previous relationships with College Ministers. In other situations, they didn't even kmow it existed in the first place.
6. Connect with area youth ministries.
-They will affect your future. If the Youth Ministers or sponsors know and buy into your vision, they can steer students your way.
-Also, we all know that sometimes churches and Youth Ministers steer students away from a ministry. If this is happening, that issue can be addressed and hopefully changed.
7. Focus on doing a few things well.
-The temptation is to immediately try to do all the things that this ministry could or should be.
-There may be some existing things that need to be killed to do this.
8. Develop, build, and invest in student leaders.
-If there are some who are capable and buy into the vision, invest deeply in them for the future as well as the present.
9. Utilize YOUR personal strengths.
-Make sure you or whomever the leader is does what it is they do best. This ties to #7. Sometimes in trying to do everything at once, the leader is not utilizing their strengths to the max.
10. Develop and pursue a strategy to let the campus as a whole know the ministry is there and what it is.
-This is to address the issue of the campus not even knowing the ministry exists.
-But truthfully, in a revitalization it is often to let the campus know the ministry "ain't what it used to be."
-Much worse than a campus not knowing the ministry is there is an awareness of a ministry that went wrong and no one wants to be associated with it.
What are your thoughts on College Ministry Revitalization? Some of you have done it. Some of you are in the middle of the pains of doing it now. My first year on my previous campus was harder than my year in the war in Vietnam.