One Sure Sign Your Church Isn’t Ready to Reach College Students

My goal for this blog is to help you maximize your disciple-making impact. One way you can do that is by focusing your ministry efforts on the university campus. There’s no context with more potential for high impact and transformation.

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In all honesty, college campuses present unique challenges…

  • They’re often the most progressive pockets of culture within the broader U.S. culture.
  • Universities set trends for what culture will be like in the future.
  • Many college students will be exposed to world views that run counter to a biblical worldview.

I’m definitely not suggesting college ministry is easy. But, in many cases, the college years are the last open window into a person’s soul. It’s such a crucial time in people’s lives.

In my tribe, the Churches of Christ, there’s a great need for college ministry. This is a hard reality…

One of the reasons we have a shortage of campus ministries is because there’s a shortage of churches with a missional mindset near universities. 

I’m convinced: in order to start new ministries on many campuses, we’ll have to start new churches, too. If there were healthy, vibrant communities of faith in these university towns, it’s likely they would already be reaching students.

The future of campus ministry in my tribe is closely tied to the future of church planting.

Existing churches can and should start new ministries. In fact, I’ve never met a church leader who didn’t want to reach young adults. The desire isn’t the problem. Many churches aren’t willing to do what it takes to reach students.

This is the one sure sign your church isn’t ready to reach college students. It’s a simple litmus test…

If your church isn’t reaching students and you aren’t willing to change anything you’re doing, you likely won’t reach students. 

It’s that simple.

Engineers often say, “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.” In other words, if you don’t like the results you’re getting, change the system.

I love what Craig Groeschel often says: “To reach people no one else is reaching, we have to do things no one else is doing.”

Paul had a similar perspective…

“I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Cor. 9:22-23

I want to be clear. I’m not suggesting that Christians change their beliefs. Besides, I don’t think there’s necessarily a correlation between being theologically progressive and reaching people. 

We need to be more progressive in our cultural engagement and ministry practices. Reaching college students is hard. It becomes even more difficult when you approach the task like it’s yesteryear. 


What barriers can you think of that keep churches from reaching college students? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment below.


On February 13th I’m releasing a new eBook called The Need for Campus Ministry: Awakening the Church to One of the Most Receptive Mission Fields in the World. Click the button below to join my email list and receive and email when it’s out.

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  1 comment for “One Sure Sign Your Church Isn’t Ready to Reach College Students

  1. Cyndi Needels
    January 24, 2017 at 8:40 am

    One of the most important things I learned early in my campus ministry days was that many churches have the mentality of “believe, behave, belong”. In a world (definitely on college campuses) where so many people feel left out and lonely, love says, “belong, believe, behave”.

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