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7 Ways to Minister to College Students

By November 21, 2011Church, Encouragement, Youth

Recently my friend Guy Chmieleski asked me to write for his blog Faith on Campus. I wrote under the heading “If I were a college pastor today.” Here is that post adapted for my blog.

Living in a college community, I can’t imagine not investing in the next generation intentionally at that college. Austin Peay State University, our local university, is not only the fastest growing university in our state (Go Govs!), it’s also my alma mater. I also have two college-aged sons (one a graduate), which naturally draws me to the age.

I love college ministry, because it involves college students. Sounds like a fair reason, right? College students are confident, idealistic, and full of hope and passion for life. I love investing in them knowing they have years to carry out what they are learning. We have an incredible college ministry at Grace Community Church, led by Brandon Reed, a great college pastor, but I must be honest, sometimes I envious of his time with college students. I take advantage of hanging out with students whenever I get the chance.

So, while I’m not a college pastor, if I was one these days, I think I’d:

Help students understand their worth in Christ – When a student can operate out of this identity it will help them withstand some of the temptations they face.

Intentionally mentor a few superstars – I can’t reach all of them, but I can invest in a few. I would work to develop leaders who would in turn invest in others.

If invited, meet on their turf – I was invited to a college apartment recently. As they cleaned a place off the couch for me to sit and kicked various drink cans under the bed (which was in the same room), I was reminded that this was a special opportunity I had been privileged to attend. I felt I had enter the sacred grounds of college life again.

Feed them – I like to buy lunch for college students. Now if any of ours read this my requests will increase and I may have to say no, but it’s amazing how open students become when there is a free meal in front of them.

Let them be themselves – I think it’s important not to try to change them or conform them to a standard, other than Jesus. They are in a period of discovery. Let them explore and stay close enough to help steer them to Christ.

Be myself – Don’t try to “fit in” with college students if you aren’t one. Be the age you are and the person you are. They can spot an impostor quickly.

Have fun – College is a fun period of life. It should be less stressful. When you are hanging out with college students, don’t expect to be serious all the time. There will be times when they are very serious (even deep), but sometimes are just to hang. That’s okay.

I’m not a college pastor, but if I was…I’d love it! Anyone looking to hire one? (Just kidding…kind of…)

What would you add to my list?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • KennyG says:

    I go to Moody Bible Institute in Spokane Washington. There is also another very large school nearby you might have heard of, Gonzaga university? Well, i'm wanting to go about evangelizing to the students there who are partying hard every Friday and Saturday and i wanted to know if anyone had any advise for me?

  • I like the point — "Let them be themselves". This is where many fail at times.

    It is good to make them understand the uniqueness of Christ (In a way, Christianity does not teach us how to reach for God. It teaches us how God has reached for us.) Also, it is important to treasure Christ above all things

    Finally I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther when I was reading your post:
    "I am afraid that schools will prove to be the great gates of Hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt. "

  • Dennis says:

    Great article!! I have the fortune of also ministering in a college town. As a matter of fact our church is literally surrounded by Humboldt State University. From dawn to dusk students are walking through or in front of our church campus to get to classes. It is a wonderful sight!! I look outside my window facing some beautiful redwoods, with the Forestry Dept down the street, the Fish and Wildlife Dept right across the street and the Athletic Dept about a 1 minute walk from my Office.
    A couple of other things that I would add is:
    1) Invest in the life and growth of your College minister. Pray for him and pray with him. The kingdom of God flows out of relationships and invest in a healthy relationship will pay great dividends.
    2) Invade the campus with prayer. We have prayer vigils, prayer meetings and prayer walks taking place all throughout the week on the campus.
    3) Invite the College ministry to be a part of the larger church ministry. Our College ministries worship team leads worship at our monthly leadership summit. It not only brings energy and passion to the life of the meeting it also provides you an opportunity to disciple them as you partner in ministry together. Our College ministry worship team also leads worship on occasion on Sunday morning. We also have college students who work in AWANA, teach Children's Sunday School, Prayer ministry, etc.
    4) Involve them in life changing outreach. Today's student's do not want to be entertained, they want to be difference makers. Work with your College Minister to make sure that the group is involved in Missions, community outreach, service projects, etc. This is a generation that wants to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers.

  • @mamanobles says:

    I love college students. I'm an adjunct at a local college. I get to interact with them in the classroom and at church. Ed Stetzer got me involved with college ministry many years ago, and I'm so glad he TOLD me to do it. We feed college students every Sunday at my table. The discussions are lively and full of laughter. But, we love it when they call, email or text with a specific need that we can help them through. One of the best parts for me is the impact the college kids have on my children (several are now college age). My kids have grown up seeing students who are passionate about Christ and who use their gifts for Him. The college kids also teach me a lot…they love God with their whole heart & aren't afraid to talk about that love. Sometimes they stay too late or eat too much – but we love it! Thanks to Ed who got me started on this journey in 1986!

  • Laurinda says:

    I did college campus ministry for 6 years. I spent a lot of time in college dormitories. I loved it. "Free Meal" is key. Meeting needs will always speak to a college student. The Lord taught me the importance of transparency while working with college students. It helps them be themselves around you.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thank you. I love that! Didn't know that about you! College students will keep us cool too! 🙂

  • Bryan K

    Much of what you say also works in working with the Youth, also. I especially like the 2 about allowing them to be themselves and us being ourselves! They respond so much better and far more positively to “real” than anything I have seen so far. The part about feeding them…? Whew! Teenagers can’t be fed enough, I think. On your own with that one! 😉