All Tex-Mex food is basically four ingredients arranged in different ways: corn tortilla, ground beef, lettuce, and cheese.
Folded? It’s a taco. Flat? It’s a tostada. Rolled up? It’s a flauta (or a taquito if you’re not from Texas). Chips? Now it’s nachos. Each combination contains the same salty, greasy, spicy goodness just arranged in various ways. Even arranged in different ways and in different proportions, they work!
Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and learn from great college ministries around the country, all of which see students come to Christ and make life-long disciples. Now, on the outside, some of these college ministries look vastly different. Some do large groups, and some don’t. Some are polished, and some feel homey. Some are at major national universities, and some work at small regional schools.
Similar to Tex Mex food, however, in every thriving college ministry, the same four ingredients are always present:
1. Intentional, ongoing, high-initiative evangelism
2. Life-on-life discipleship using reproducible tools
3. Studying God’s Word
4. Mission sending (including imparting a vision for life-long gospel impact)
Omit any one ingredient, and you’ve got a tragic deficiency. Without evangelism, a ministry neglects the majority of Gen Z students who do not know Christ. Without evangelism, a ministry inadvertently pushes Christian students to be more self-focused. Omit discipleship & Biblical instruction, and you’re a mile wide and an inch deep. Without these crucial elements, a ministry may run programs but not create long-term impact. Omit mission sending, and your vision is no bigger than your campus, but Jesus aims for every tribe, tongue & nation!
These four ingredients can be arranged in very different ways, but they’ve got to be on the plate! A church-based and campus-based ministry might combine the ingredients differently. A larger & more mature ministry might have clearer pathways to develop students. But the good news is that any ministry of any size can give attention to each of the four ingredients.
Are you a larger ministry with paid staff? Evaluate which area you’re deficient in and strengthen it. Are you a volunteer leading a small college ministry a few hours a week? Then outsource! Push students to involvement in a great local church where they get Bible teaching while you focus on discipleship with a few students – teaching them to share their faith and casting a vision for their future. Don’t have a lot of resources? No problem; there are tons of free ones out there! Find videos to watch, discipleship materials to go through, and a good conference to attend.
The goal isn’t to gather a crowd of students but to produce a few life-long Great Commission Christians. And if you have these four ingredients, you’ll be doing that!
Gary Stidham is the Director of Training for Texas BSM. You can email him at email@example.com, or visit his link tree at linktr.ee/garystidham.