The main college football season is over, but now the post season is on everyone’s minds. Who’s going to which bowl? Who’s going to win my conference tournament? Does my team still have a shot at the title? Then, there are some of you who are more interested in the snacks that are going to be served at the football game watch party (I’m probably in this category). Whatever your current level of interest in the rankings, if you’re ministering to young adults, there are several ways college football is a lot like young adult ministry.
- Rising Stars—College football overflows with conversations discussing top recruits and expectations for teams’ new players. Occasionally, a young player will step up after an injury or NFL draft or graduation and knock everyone’s unsuspecting socks off. When ministering to young adults, we get the privilege of identifying and directing untapped potential for the sake of the gospel. Likewise, we get to see sharp freshmen come in and flourish spiritually as we guide them into deeper discipleship and ministry opportunities and peripheral ministry members step into ministry holes where they begin to thrive.
- Disappointments—Did anybody’s team not live up to the hype this year? For every team that rises to the occasion, there’s always another that seems to fall flat. Working with young adults is no different. They are juggling work and school and family. They are trying their best to maneuver major life decisions as they enter the wonderful world of adulting. Balls get dropped, potential is unreached, poor choices are made, and we get to be there every messy step along the way.
- High Stakes—Throughout October and November, few things get more media attention than college football and hallway work conversations frequently cover the weekend’s latest scores—and then, there is the money. The top college teams are worth well over $100 million each! The stakes are high, and the whole country is dialed in, but I’d argue that the stakes are even higher in young adult ministry. We are talking about eternity here and the future of Christ’s church—His bride! He wants to see us succeed in developing both future and current leaders of His church. He wants to see young adults grow in their knowledge and enjoyment of Him. But, even better, He promises that He WILL do it!
- Strategic Opportunities to Huddle—The coaches and players are constantly gathering around, assessing game play, and charting the best paths forward. Whether it’s time-outs, half time, or meetings to watch game footage, college football teams make it a priority to huddle up and keep moving forward. Similarly, young adult ministry offers natural rhythms to pause and reflect, to evaluate and move forward. It might be the end of the college semester, the start of a new group Bible study, or the close of a year. All of these aforementioned points (and others) throughout the ministry year give you an opportunity to take a look at what is going well or what might need to be tweaked and move forward while implementing your best ministry game plan.
I don’t know who you are rooting for this bowl season or if your team is going to make it to the big game or not. But, I do know that you have a great opportunity ahead to make a Kingdom impact as you continue to invest in college students and young adults. It might be pouring into a rising star or perhaps walking through a painful ministry set-back, but (avoiding cheesy Heavenly Head Coach analogy) either way, you will be used to make a play in the high stakes game of young adult ministry.
Bill Noe is the Collegiate Ministry Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. A former campus minister (and current collegiate ministry volunteer at church), Bill loves being a part of seeing college students grow in their walk with the Lord. Connect with Bill on Twitter.