Dec 01, 2014


The College Ministry Method that Should NEVER Change

Peter Krol, from DiscipleMakers, tells us about the college ministry method that should NEVER change.

Times Change

Like today’s students, I brought my own phone to college. However, unlike today’s students, I had to keep my phone plugged into the wall if I wanted to receive any calls. I regularly tell my students ancient tales from the previous millennium where we had computer labs (no laptops), metallic, key-shaped room keys (no card swipers), and brick and mortar stores for books and movie rentals (no kindles or streaming video). In those inglorious days, “text” and “friend” were nouns (not verbs), “hooking up” was what you did when you got a new stereo, and 20-year-olds didn’t play dodge ball.

Times sure change, and with them we change our ministry methods and expectations. On some campuses, we don’t visit student dorm rooms anymore. Due to an increasingly international student body, we avoid illustrating talks with U.S. historical icons. We no longer assume that pornography and masturbation are “guy problems.”

One Method Shouldn’t Change

But I hope our bread and butter never change brands. When Christians find out I’m a campus minister, their first question is often, “Do you have Bible studies?” College ministries have a reputation for holding Bible studies, and may God grant it always to be so.

In a 2013 interview with Bible Study Magazine, pastor and author Tim Keller credits his training as a student in an undergraduate campus ministry as “fundamental to my abilities as a Bible teacher.” Keller describes a retreat where InterVarsity staff worker Barbara Boyd gave the students 30 minutes to list 50 observations from a single verse: “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (Mark 1:17, ESV). After 10 minutes, they began to feel saturated, but she encouraged them to press on. When they regrouped to share their findings, they could not believe how many jewels came from this single mine. “Boyd closed her exercise by asking the students how many of them had found their deepest insight in the first five minutes of thought. ‘No one had,’ says Keller. ‘And I’ve never forgotten that.’”[1]

How to Lead Effective Bible Studies

A few straightforward principles can help your college ministry offer a Bible education on par with almost any Christian college or seminary.

  1. Study the Bible

While discipleship resources can provide terrific gospel content, that which is most useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness will be the God-breathed Scripture itself.

  1. Study books of the Bible

While topical studies can be immediately impactful, they’re not easily replicable. Don’t miss the opportunity to model to your students a lifestyle of healthy, contextual Bible reading.

  1. Teach them how to study the Bible for themselves

While all disciples benefit from sitting under a master mentor, such ministry will not multiply wildly unless it lumbers toward liftoff.

We must adjust rapidly to the changing campus culture, but may our focus on Bible study ever remain the same. Who knows whether the Lord has more Tim Kellers ready and waiting on our campuses?

[1] Bible Study Magazine, Vol. 5 No. 3, March/April 2013, pp. 12-13.

about the author

Peter Krol

Peter Krol serves on the Senior Leadership Team with DiscipleMakers, an interdenominational campus ministry. He is the author of Knowable Word: Helping Ordinary People Learn to Study the Bible, and he blogs regularly at Knowable Word.