General Ministry

Chuck Bomar planted and is Lead Pastor of Colossae Church in Portland, Oregon and is founder of both CollegeLeader (www.CollegeLeader.org) and iampeople (www.iampeople.org). He is author of 8 books, including the highly anticipated releases of Better Off Without Jesus and Losing Your Religion. When he is not traveling the country speaking at conferences or consulting with church or denominational leaders, he is home with his family, the place he loves to be more than any other. Chuck and his wife, Barbara, have three beautiful daughters: Karis, Hope and Sayla.

In my experience college ministry is viewed by most pastors as a luxury, not a necessity.  That is, unless your pastor has kids that age.

But the truth is in most contexts it’s not seen as a necessary ministry for a healthy growing church.  In this way it’s entirely different than children’s and student ministry.

Now, if you know anything about me you know I couldn’t disagree more.  I’ve seen the impact a college ministry can make on a church and now, as a pastor of a church myself, I know it’s vitality for our churches health.

So, here are 3 things I hear pastors say as to why they don’t view college ministry as a priority for the church they pastor and a few thoughts on why I think they are dead wrong, regardless of what context they minister in (how’s that for bluntness?!).  The three biggest push backs I hear from pastors are a lack of numbers, lack of money, and they simply feel disconnected.  So, here are a few thoughts for each of those:

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  1. Not enough students.  Many pastors say they don’t have enough people in this stage of life in their church to start or fully fund a ministry.  This is especially true for churches in more rural areas where people move away to go to school.  I understand this logic if we view this ministry through a programmatic lens.  However, if we view it relationally, these are people we have invested a lot into over the years.  And continuing to cultivate a relationship with them is not only beneficial, it’s our responsibility.  That said, let me ask a purely logical question: how many junior high students do you think a church would if they didn’t have a ministry specifically for them?  Or, how many high school students do you think would be a part of the church if there wasn’t a ministry for them?
  1. Not enough money.  If we really want to talk about money in this context (which I’m hesitant to do, but it’s a fact of life), then I will bring up two quick points.  First, I think we need to view them as missionaries for the next generation.  Churches usually reserve money for “missions,” so why wouldn’t we view those moving away to go to school as being the same?   Secondly, college students may not directly contribute a lot of money, but they certainly do indirectly.  They are some of the best volunteers for children’s and student ministry and, we all know, these are critical to bringing in families.  When families come, so does funding and the stronger these two ministries are the more families that come.  It’s that simple.
  1. Not enough personal connection.  Pastors that have kids in college see the needs of their children, but if they don’t have children this age most of the time they lack personal connection to the needs.  This is why you need to expose them to students, relationally.  I have college students in my home all the time because I want to make sure I stay in tune with their needs and desires.  Find stories of both trial and victory to expose your pastor to…when your pastor feels either, support is soon to follow.
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  • I lived in College Station, TX for several years and served in a church there for a time. CS is the home to Texas A&M and the town literally exists because of A&M. That is most likely why my experience is completely different. Almost every church has some form of college ministry. Some of course are better than others, but for the most part the college ministries are done as well as they can be given each church’s size and budget.

    Now I’m in a small town not near any major Universities, so there’s not a need for a college ministry. One thing I have noticed over the years, both in Aggieland and my current location is a huge hole in ministry for those who graduate high school and do not go to college. In my experience this is one of the most neglected group by churches.

  • Kelso says:

    I really think this is where a good small group ministry in the church shines. You can have a small group for college age students without the need for a full-blown ministry for them. This particularly shines through in small churches.

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