Jul 25, 2016


3 Reasons Why It’s Critical to Start New Campus Ministries

Neil Reynolds offers another compelling take on why must start more new campus ministries.

There’s a shift coming in the way we do ministry in the U.S. As our culture becomes less and less Christian we’ll have to become more comfortable starting things from scratch, reaching new people. Ministry will take on more of an entrepreneurial feel.

I recently had a phone conversation with Alex Absalom about starting missional communities. He captured this idea well. When I asked him what it took to lead a missional community he said…

“You’ve got to be able to go get your people. We’re not going to get them for you.”

This is what campus ministry is like. You have to gather your people. It’s a missional, apostolic, entrepreneurial endeavor. It’s hard work.

Maybe that’s why so many campuses are unreached. In my fellowship, the Churches of Christ, roughly 1% of our churches are engaged in campus ministry. As our mindset shifts, we have to learn to be missionaries in our own culture.

Specifically, we need campus missionaries, men and women who go to the campus to start something new. We need more ministries on college campuses. I can think of at least three reasons why…

1. It’s compassionate.
Thousands and thousands of students are on university campuses around the U.S. In some cases, they’ll spend four years preparing for their lives and never encounter Christian community or hear the gospel. That alone should move us to action.

When you consider the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, and even loneliness and depression, you realize the college campus is a dark place in need of the light. That should move us to action.

I also can’t shake the fact that this particular demographic of people is woefully neglected in my tribe. There are roughly 125 C of C campus ministries…in the entire nation! There’s a great need.

I think of Jesus’ response to the crowds in Matthew 9…

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

This is a fitting picture for many of today’s college students: “sheep without a shepherd.” A large number of students are unreached with the gospel.

The compassionate response for us is to go to the campus to minister to students.

2. It’s highly strategic.
Charles Malik, former member of the United Nations General Assembly, made one of the best cases for campus ministry when he said…

“The university is the clear-cut fulcrum with which to move the world. More potently than by any other means, change the university and you will change the world.”

This is a truth we need to grab onto! There’s not a more strategic place to do ministry than the college campus. History points to this fact.

Yes, only 1% of the world’s population is on college campuses. But, some have argued it’s the most powerful 1% on the planet. The world’s leaders of tomorrow are on college campuses today.It’s why Bill Bright said…

“If you win the university today, we will win the world tomorrow!”

(In his free eBook, Tips for Starting a College Ministry, Paul Worcester includes some of the best quotes from history about the strategic nature of campus ministry)

3. It creates pathways toward church planting.
I read recently that only 5% of existing churches are involved in starting new churches. If only 5% of a society reproduced it wouldn’t take long before it ceased to exist. Bottom line: we need to start new churches.

This isn’t a negative commentary on existing churches. We don’t need to plant churches because there’s something wrong with the ones we have. It’s the opposite. Healthy, biblical churches reproduce.

For too many people, their view of starting new churches is a church split. In other words, new churches are started when a group gets mad or doesn’t like the church they’re attending. In reality, that’s often a terrible reason to start a church.

When it’s done properly, church planting is a method of reaching new people with the gospel. Starting campus ministries plays an important role in that process. Tim Keller put it this way when talking about church planting movements…

“You have to have a leadership pipeline developing and that usually happens through campus work. You have to have really dynamic college ministry… You have to have a campus leadership pipeline other wise the church planting doesn’t continue.”

There are more reasons to go to the campus as missionaries to start new works. But, I settled on these three for now. What have I missed?

This article originally appeared on Neil’s site and is an excerpt from his forthcoming eBook. Sign up for info from his site to be notified when the eBook is released.

about the author

Neil Reynolds

Neil is a campus minister with CCSC at Arkansas Tech. He lives in Russellville, AR with his wife Katie and their two daughters.