Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country and meet with some of my heroes – collegiate and young adult leaders in churches and on college campuses. The creativity and energy these leaders possess provides countless opportunities to connect with college students and young adults in our communities and on our campuses.
But I have a confession to make: Some of my best ideas as a college minister were not my own. Many of those ideas came from my friends who were doing college/young adult ministry in different cities or settings, but I took the concept, molded it to fit my own ministry’s setting (with the help of student leaders, of course), and launched it to see what would happen.
As leaders, we must always be on the lookout for great ideas when it comes to reaching college students and young adults. I kept a file of ideas and notes that I compiled over time as I would attend meetings or conferences. And though the conferences were good, some of my best ideas came from the coffee shop meetings spent with my peers in-between sessions. Leaders should be focused on reaching a generation and sharing our ideas along the way with those who are doing it right along with us. Here are three reasons sharing is good:
1. Sharing keeps things fresh in your context.
Getting together with other collegiate/young adult leaders and sharing how God is working among groups is refreshing. Ask a lot of questions of those who work in ministries similar to yours. Be willing to share the details of how an event or ministry worked in your context and how you pulled it off. When we’re willing to trade ideas (many of which actually come from the participants in our ministries), we’re able to bring fresh ways to connect and reach even more young adults in our communities. A willingness to try new things will always bring a fresh perspective to our ministries.
2. Sharing builds a sense of “We’re all in this together.”
Ministry can be pretty lonely at times. Often we feel like we’re the only ones doing or caring for a particular aspect of ministry. In contrast, there are others in your own city or miles away who have a similar heart for reaching young adults and college students. When we get together, a special energy emerges as we talk about what works and what doesn’t in areas of outreach, discipleship, and missions. There’s also a real sense of a team atmosphere when we trade ideas and suggestions.
3. Trends and culture are constantly changing, and we must stay educated.
We are living in a culture where things are constantly changing. Even in our own country, trends vary by region. There’s no way we can be up-to-date on every single thing happening with college students and young adults. So utilize the expertise of your peers. Discover the experts around you and ask them loads of questions. Never stop learning. Leaders must place a high priority on learning. Such learning can come from podcasts, blogs, articles, or face-to-face meetings. In order to stay relevant and authentic to a culture that’s constantly changing, find the experts and be willing to learn from them. What you can do with that information can go a long way.
Ultimately, reach out to others in the collegiate/young adult ministry network. If you find yourself in a position where you haven’t connected to a network of other leaders, here are some suggestions for getting connected:
- Collegiate Summit – to be held at Lifeway in Nashville, TN April 29-May 1, 2015 (Register soon HERE!)
- Collegiate Week at Glorieta – held the first week of August every year. (Register HERE!)
- College Metro Conference – held annually (Register HERE!)
- Threads Blog – articles, practical tips, resources, and relevant advice for young adults (Click HERE!)
- Collegiate Ministers Fellowship – July 7-9, 2014 at University of Georgia BCM. (Contact Steve Masters at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!)
- Collegiate Collective – a one-stop-shop for all things related to college ministry (Click HERE!)
- Faith on Campus – an online home for conversations, resource suggestions, and encouragement for college ministers (Click HERE!)
- BCNet – a network of Baptist collegiate ministries from across North America (Click HERE!)
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.