Why You Should Care About Collegiate Ministry

Final reflection piece for the year. Will have another marina pic and some top 5 lists, but regular blogging won’t happen again until 2013.

This post reflects a little bit of my journey over the past year…I wholeheartedly believe in the work we are doing here in Boston: here’s why…


Confession: a pet peeve of mine is the minimizing of the importance of collegiate ministry. Our field has not always done a great job advertising our awesomeness (probably because campus ministers are too busy to do marketing). But, in my lower moments, I find the misunderstandings of our work to be aggravating.

Some look at college ministry as intellectual youth ministry. Others dismiss it as a mere “life-stage” ministry. Some deride it as an unhelpful “parachurch” organism/parasite. I get asked about once a month: “so when are you going to become a ‘real’ pastor.”

There are many people who get it and who invest in it and who think what we are doing is important. And that is beautiful. But the misunderstandings still drive me crazy.

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to hang with people from other ministries all over the world. When I asked them to tell me the story about how they got interested and inspired to do their work they all started with this:

“When I was in college…”

That phrase has been difficult to get out of mind over the last several weeks.

Collegiate ministry may not be directly addressing poverty, or dirty water, or whatever other issue or cause you might care about, BUT it will have an impact on all of those things.

If you care about the fact that church attendance is declining rapidly in the remerging generation you should care deeply about collegiate ministry.

If you care about issues of class and race and poverty that affect our cities and the education of our young people you should care deeply about collegiate ministry.

If you care about global missions you should care about collegiate ministry (for two reasons: US students will be called at this point in their lives to go abroad and international students studying in the US will take the good news of Jesus back with them).

If you care about sex-trafficking, human slavery, and other rights-based issues you should care about collegiate ministry.

If you care about the direction of technological advancement, research, medical and scientific developments, and the progression of philosophical thought and practice you should care about collegiate ministry.

If you care about politics you should care about collegiate ministry.

And, at the risk of exploiting current events, if you care about the deep, deep brokenness in our country you should care deeply about collegiate ministry.

I had the opportunity to meet with some Boston University officials at the end of the Spring semester and they revealed a startling development:

During that semester the school, for the first time that anyone could remember, made more hospital calls for students struggling with mental health issues than for alcohol related incidents.

Among emerging adults there is a profound crisis centering around questions of meaning and being.

The shootings in Newtown and other communities are the extreme expressions of a culture that is failing miserably to answer these questions in any kind of meaningful way.

We don’t know how to talk about truly significant things like evil, life, and ultimate meaning.

Most of the people (men? boys?) committing these unthinkable shootings are between the ages of 18 and 25.

Over the next couple of weeks and months we will hear about gun control and mental health reform, and both are important and needed conversations.

But, neither get to the heart of the issue. President Obama got us there for a moment in his speech on Sunday when he asked: “Why are we here?”

This question and other questions of meaning and being (what is a human? what does it mean to be human? is there purpose and meaning and importance to life and the universe? etc, etc) are at the center of our national crisis, a crisis that impacts our young people (specifically college aged students) more than anyone.

And if you care about this, if you care about how we answer and will answer these questions as a nation and a culture, then you should care deeply and passionately about collegiate ministry.

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