College Ministry: A Long-Term Career?

Guy Chmieleski


A few years ago, I started polling my blog readers so that I could:

  1. Better understand who you are
  2. Gain some statistical data
  3. Test out some theories I have
  4. Attempt to provide some posts that are meaningful and relevant to the work we are doing

One of the first questions I ever posted was: How long have you been serving in college ministry?

Nearly 70% of those who took the poll reported having served in college ministry for 6 years or more (6-10 years 31%; 11-20 years 31%; and 20+ years 6%).

Over my nearly 20 years of working with college students, I have worked on 4 different campuses – within 3 different denominations – spanning 3 different geographical regions within the US.

The results of my poll, coupled with my own experiences over the course of my ministry life thus far, have served to confirm a bit of wisdom I was given when applying for my first position in college ministry:

College ministry is a difficult field to get into, but once in, people rarely choose to leave it.

I think there are a several reasons for this:

  1. There are drastically fewer college ministry positions in comparison to youth/pastor positions.
  2. For many, the youth pastor position is a stepping stone to a senior pastor position, and this is often not the case for those who go into the field of college ministry.
  3. Those who get involved with college ministry – much like foreign missions – do so because they sense a passion for, and specific call to, a specific people group (college students) in a specific context (the campus).
  4. Once ministers get a taste for this unique ministry field and context, God tends to grow their roots deep. A part of this, I believe, has to do with the need to bring some stability to a ministry structure that reaches out to a very transient population – our students should only be around for 4 years.
  5. This is one of the most formational times in life – so having the chance to walk alongside students during these critical years can be one of the most significant (for our students) and rewarding (for those of us who get to walk alongside them) experiences we have as ministers!

I could go on and on for why college ministers stay once they become a part of this distinct ministry field, but I’d love to give you a chance to share some of your story.

How long have you been involved in college ministry?

How did you find your way into the field of college ministry?

Why have you stayed as long as you have?

Could you see yourself ever doing anything else?

I’d love to hear from you!

Guy Chmieleski (pronounced: Shim-a-less-key) is a husband, a proud father of five, and a follower of Jesus Christ. He’s the Campus Pastor and Dean of Campus Ministries at Friends University in Wichita, KS and has previously served in campus ministry on the campuses of Belmont University (05-15), Pepperdine University (04-05), Asbury University (01-04); and Palm Beach Atlantic University (97-01). If you have any questions, want to connect, or would like to invite Guy to speak at an upcoming event, feel free to contact him at guy.chmieleski@gmail.com. Guy also blogs regularly at faithoncampus.com.

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