Statistics show that one out of three college students will choose to leave the church and not practice their faith after time spent on a college campus.
Attending college is a critical point in an individual’s life where a variety of people, organizations and societies fight for the attention and attendance of each student. Many of those students will go on to graduate from their university and decide to either attend a church for the remainder of their life or not.
George Barna, who specializes in studying religious beliefs and the behavior of Americans, has estimated that over 8 million adults in their 20s have left the church in the past decade. Many fear that if this rate continues, the U.S. could lose the church altogether in the next coming century.
However, many leaders involved with the world’s leading Christian denominations have stepped up to pioneer ministries in strategic places where the leaders of tomorrow are developed: the college campus.
College students are the world’s game changers and are capable of changing the social, political and cultural arena. By being involved in a community, such as a college ministry with the goal of revealing purpose and extending faith in God, college students can bring a healthy view of service, love and commitment to the workplace.
The start of a college ministry could be the best thing for a university when wanting to help students find a path and place where they can safely learn about God and be in fellowship with others who also share the same beliefs.
These ministries are designed to help college students understand their faith and practice it well both during and after they attend a university.
However, before starting a ministry on your campus, there are a few things you should undertake through preparation before fully engaging with the university.
1. Start out in prayer
The founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley once said, “God will do nothing but in answer to prayer.”
Before you engage with your campus, pray about it. A campus ministry is designed with God, faith and religion in mind. It is different from other organizations because it involves a specific belief system, that if practice and preached wrong, could cause problems in the long run.
The desire to start a college ministry for the benefit of others is a missions-minded commitment and is designed with God’s plan to reach out to others in the best way possible. Don’t make the mistake of starting a ministry that does not start with God, is not centered on God or does not involve the teachings of the Bible.
Pray for discernment, guidance and provision in the ongoing developments of trying to get a college ministry started in your area.
2. Build Relationships
The interesting thing about Christianity is that it was designed to be followed, practiced and engaged in relationships. Since the beginning of time, God created relationships with his design and plan for the world to be in a relationship with him. Use this faith principal in the beginning of your work in ministry.
Work on setting up a team of people that have the same heart, goal and vision for college ministry and start a plan on how to reach the students attending your campus. A community is only as healthy as your relationships are.
The healthier they are, the more attractive they are. Build your college ministry on the importance of creating authentic relationships with the people you work with and those who you will meet and invite on campus.
Leonard Ravenhill, a Christian evangelist, gives this analogy when describing an attractive community, “You never have to advertise a fire, everyone comes running when there’s a fire. Likewise, if your church is on fire, you will not have to advertise it. The community will already know it.”
Fight, pray and prepare for a ministry that will attract students like a wildfire, seeing the attractiveness of your ministry that is set on a basis for a relational love for God and others.
3. Be committed to the cause
It’s best to understand now that there will be difficult when trying to start a college ministry. If you are set on starting a ministry on a secular campus, there’s a possibility that the campus may come with rules and regulations that may prevent you from engaging with student life in a specific way.
Honor the rules set by the university and serve in a way that won’t cause your ministry to stop before it even starts. Choose to commit to the struggle of establishing a ministry that can either grow as soon as it’s established or may take a few semesters before any fruit from past labor can be seen.
Nothing shapes a person’s life more than the commitments they choose to make today. The same can be said for the commitment to the greater cause of creating a faith-filled community on your campus that is purposed on helping college students grow closer to God if they so desire.
These small steps in preparation for your college ministry are simple and practical but could maximize your success in numbers in the long run. Being faithful in the little things is what’s most important to the overall success of your college ministry.
Starting out small and learning as you grow is how ministry thrives. Author of multiple spiritual leadership books, Robert E. Coleman says, “A few people so dedicated in time will shake the world for God. Victory is never won in the multitudes.”
Have courage in the building up of tomorrows leaders on your college campus through your ministry. Most major missionary movements and revivals in history began on college campuses. One can start where you’re at too.