If you are new to your campus or your campus has changed over time, then it may be a good time to evaluate your campus context. My seminary professor consistently said, “Your context dictates your ministry.”
Research your campus
- Review the campus quick facts. Does your ministry reflect the campus? Is there a demographic that no one is reaching? Does your school release socioeconomic stats? How might those change the way you minister? Look at the cities and counties that students are from. Is your campus made up mostly of students from urban or rural backgrounds? What is the average ACT score? Are your students high academics?
- Become an expert – understand the history of the campus. When the next new person comes how can you orient them. How can students look to you as an expert involved on campus? What about questions with housing? Do you know a professor in the engineering department?
Find counselors from your campus
- Who is a “person of peace” on-campus that might be a friend and share how things work? Preferably someone who has been there more than 7+ years.
- Is there anyone who knows the campus’s spiritual needs?
- The “experts” on the culture might be the barista at the coffee shop or the friend you make at the gym. People who live and breathe your college.
- Who are the major players on campus (students, faculty)?
- Be a friend to administrators, librarians, academic advisors, the enlistment office, etc.
- Who else is laboring for the kingdom? Churches and other Gospel-centered campus ministries. Know those people and learn how to get along. Learn from their wisdom and the kinds of students who are and aren’t being reached.
Get to know the students on your campus
- Identify the people groups in the area that are within your mission context: this certainly means international students and ethnic demographics. However, we also have to understand the tribes in our culture. What about the band, softball team, engineering club, honors college, LGBT, Greek, etc.?
- Who or what is influencing the students on your campus? What is the most listened to podcast and radio station? What clothes do people wear and what tech do they have? You don’t have to dress the same, but you might need to understand trends and what students care about.
- Learn the language of your campus from people. The vocabulary, as well as the methods of communication that work.
- Learn from the churches that students have gone to as youth to understand music and preaching preferences.
- Prayer Walk – Bathe your campus in prayer and see what God reveals to you. As you walk try to meet new students and faculty. Observe. Where do students hang out? What are the natural tribes that form?
- Identify spiritual strongholds. Where are the spiritually dark places on campus? What groups, departments, or people are there where the Gospel has no presence or access?
- Pray that God would reveal in your heart and remove the inherit biases and preferences that you have and allow you to minister based on the needs of the campus He has called you to.