by Abbie Smith and Tim Walker
Because they operate in such different ways, the gap between churches and campus ministries can seem worlds apart. But according to Jesus’ words in John 17, unity in the body of Christ should be our goal. Here are three ways to bridge the gap between your college ministry and campus ministries:
1) Build a ministry of “5th-Year Leaders.” A 5th-Year Leader is a concept we throw around often at XP3 College. Basically, it asks a high school leader to walk beyond “Graduation Sunday” (which typically concludes the role of a high school small group leader), and maintain relationship with their students in their small group for one more year. If we want to turn around the “fade” stats of 18- to 25-year-olds remaining in the church, we’ve got to rethink this approach. Being a 5th-Year Leader means being willing to help high schoolers transition well through the year after they graduate. And for those who go away, an on-campus ministry or organization can be a great resource for a 5th-Year Leader to help their students get connected. Do some research online and find out what groups are on the campuses where your students are heading, and you might even want to consider a road trip to help your student make the connection.
2) Be the bridge. Often, there’s an “us versus them” mentality between churches and local campus ministries. We’ve got to get intentional about dissuading this competition and stigmas. Ask a campus pastor how you can serve them. Typically campus ministries are short on adult volunteers, so maybe some of yours can come alongside what they’re already doing and add some additional voices to help them connect across generations.
3) Meet a need. Other than volunteers, your church may have resources the on-campus group may need. Maybe it’s your facility. Maybe it’s the incredible culinary skills of your senior adults. Maybe your church can put together care packages. There even may be a college student who needs some extra attention or help. Maybe your church could adopt that student. Whatever the need, see if there’s a way your church congregation can meet it.
However you choose to reach out and bridge the gap, keep in mind the bigger picture of God’s kingdom. If we make it just about our church or our campus ministry, we only see one small part of the big things God can do and is doing.
XP3 College offers Conversation Guides for mentors and small group leaders to connect older adults with 18- to 25-year-olds. XP3 College also offers a transition piece, called XP3 Next, for high school seniors and an ongoing connection piece for the first semester away. Both resources are offered exclusively in the Orange Store. For more information on available conversation guides, visit our online Orange store.