When my wife and I moved to our new church in September of 2011, I also increased in my responsibilities. At our first church we mainly (because their will always be “other” responsibilities) worked with middle school and high school students. At our new church we work with middle school, high school, and college students. My technical title (just in case you are super anxious to know) is student and college pastor. I’m very excited to be in this role because I love young adults as well. I still love working with teenagers but again, am very excited to be working with young adults. I have quickly learned in my new role that there is a pretty significant difference in the way you reach teenagers and the way you reach young adults. For example, in student ministry you may attend school lunches, ballgames, plays, and so forth, in order to build relationships with students and parents. In college ministry, while you still want to be a presence on the local college campus for sure, I find myself doing more discipleship over a cup of coffee or something of this nature. Furthermore, if I went to a major university’s ballgame it may not have the same impact as me going to a local middle school football game. This is, in part, due to the number of people who will end up attending that type of event. Also, the type of conversations I have with college students usually is drastically different from the conversations I have with middle/high school students. In student ministry conversations can easily swing to… “I broke up with girlfriend because…” or “What are we going to do next Daniel…” or “Are we going to that…” With college students the conversations are more along the lines of “Daniel, I think I may be getting engaged this semester…” or “Daniel, this company wants to hire me…” Both types of conversations are okay to have, they are just drastically different within their own context. With all this being said, here are a few things (this is just part 1) I’m learning about reaching college students.
1. College students desire deeper, solid Biblical teaching. This is an obvious desire for any ministry within the local church but I’m learning more and more that college students are okay with the technical theology/philosophical terms. Most don’t shy away from that, they embrace it. Therefore, the manner in which I teach is different in college ministry. That is not to say that a high school student can’t handle deep thinking but rather my approach as a communicator is slightly different. The other night I was asked about the doctrine of predestination from a college student and this realization hit me… college students want to dig deeper. They want to wrestle with theological concepts and come up with why they believe what they believe. They want to be taught, in an exciting, relevant way, theology.
2. College students want to learn life leadership lessons. College students are preparing for how they are going to live and manage their adult life. It’s important to teach on subjects like financial responsibility, family life management, career paths, and so on. These are major life lessons that adults wrestle with. My hope in the college ministry that I oversee is that we are teaching college students how to make smart, biblical choices in these critical areas. Too many college students think that life is like a light switch… “When I become and adult, I will know how to be an adult.” May the church come along side them and teach them what God expects in a Godly husband, dad, wife, mom, and so forth. This isn’t just a light switch, we as the church, have to teach them these aspects of the Christian life.
3. College students love having fun while maturing as an adult. Part of what I love about being a student and college pastor are the fun moments. There is a difference in having fun and being immature. College students are not kids anymore. They need to know that leaders, society, and family expect more from them. However, the college years can be the greatest 4, 5, 6, 7 (haha) years of their life. The relationships you build with life long friends, for many they find their spouse while in college, the clubs and organizations they are apart of, and so on are really exciting times! This is exciting to not only watch but experience with them. So while we are teaching them what is means to be a mature Christ follower as an adult… have a blast while doing it!
There are probably many more things I could write about here but, this is just part one. I’m excited about working with both teenagers and college students and feel very blessed that I have the opportunity to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.