REIMAGINE COLLEGIATE MINISTRY
The “Reimagine” project seeks to apply New Testament principles to present-day modes of church practice.
How will you reimagine college ministry to meet the realities of our current situation? What innovative practices can you utilize while still upholding the core teachings found in Scripture? Below you will find some information, tools and resources to help you begin to reimagine.
Recent college and university closures have left North Carolina’s 1 million college students in limbo. Many students had to leave their dorms within the first few weeks of returning for the fall semester, and they either scrambled to look for local housing or headed home. Those who may still be learning in person are waiting for their campus to close. Many other students chose to attend school online from the beginning. Because of these changes, a demographic that thrives in community is scattered and isolated. Churches that typically only host college students home on break now have at least a whole semester with them. Everyone is asking, “Now what?”
As churches seek to reach and disciple college students in a post-pandemic world, they must navigate an entirely new world compared with previous years. Students have become more stressed and confused. There are, and will be, many differences in comfort levels for gathering with others. Many students may even disagree on when we are in a “post-pandemic” time. Not knowing what the next semester or semesters will look like can make it difficult for churches to plan for students as a group. Churches that are used to sending their students away to other churches during the school year may now be responsible for their discipleship. Clearly, there is no shortage of challenges to reaching college students. Using this time to disciple college students well is crucial and requires a great deal of creativity, flexibility and wisdom.
Tips & Tools
Gather college students separately from high school students during this season. Even though they may have grown up together in the church, these two groups are in very different seasons of life. Many college students (especially this year’s freshmen) feel like they’re missing out on a significant transition in their lives. They miss their campus, their friends and their church community at college. Allow them to grieve this loss. Gathering college students together as a group — separately from high school students — will give them a sense of community identity and help them feel like your church has a place for them. Use regular and predictable rhythms that will give students a sense of stability during an unstable semester. This may be Bible study and game nights every Thursday or a meal at a church member’s house every Tuesday. Be creative, and listen to what your students say they need.
Many systems for discipling students — like campus-based ministry — aren’t possible right now. As we reimagine what our college ministries might look like, what should we do differently? Instead of only focusing on the college campus as the mission field, what if we reimagined college ministry to focus on the college student? What if leaders began to see the college student (and future college students) as missionaries? If we reimagine ministry in this way, it doesn’t matter whether students are doing in-person classes, virtual learning, or some hybrid model. A missionary is a missionary. Take a moment and reimagine your church’s college ministry where students are discipled and sent out as missionaries.
Tips & Tools
Ask the following assessment questions of your church’s ministry to college students:
- What are the names of college students (or future students) in your church community or your circle of influence?
- How might you develop deeper relationships with these students?
- How might you create a culture of discipleship among them?
- How might you empower them to become missionaries for Jesus wherever or whenever they are in school?
- What’s one step you could take today?