Posted by: Brandon | October 6, 2009

ResourceRoom — “Reaching the Campus Tribes”

Each Tuesday here at HeartOfCampusMinistry.com, we hope to offer resources that may help in the journey of campus ministry. These may be websites, conferences, articles, blogs, or books.

If you know of any great resources you think all college ministers should be aware of, drop me a line at mynameisbrandon (at) gmail (dot) com.

To kick things off, Dave Embree (Campus Minister at the Christian Campus House at Missouri State University) reviews “Reaching the Campus Tribes.” RTCT is a (free!) e-book written by a good friend of the ACM, Benson Hines.

Here is Dave’s review:

Benson Hines does his research.  He spent a year traveling the nation visiting all sorts of ministries geared to college students and other “twenty-someones”.  He spent time with the mighty and the modest, and his observations and conclusions about campus ministry in America are chronicled in his e-book Reaching the Campus Tribes (www.reachingthecampustribes.com ).  He began his trek with a love for campus ministry and finished his quest with a passion to tell the story of what God is doing on campuses across the nation to anyone who will listen.  And so Ben wrote his book.

Reaching the Campus Tribes is a book written from the inside out.  Ben visited dozens and dozens of ministries and sat down with dozens and dozens of ministers to hear their stories, celebrate their triumphs, and share their disappointments.  Then, having written the first draft of his book, he sent chunks of it out to some of those he’d talked with along the way to see if the guys on the field thought he was on track with his insights.

Hines found that some great things are happening in the name of campus ministry across the nation.  From the surprises of the remarkable campus ministry being conducted by University Presbyterian in Seattle, to much smaller inroads made by up-and-coming entrepeneurial new ministries, Hines notes that it is hard to define campus ministry as any one thing.  And, he notes, that is one of its strengths.  We who do campus ministry are a very diverse lot, adapting to very different socio-cultural settings with very different approaches and techniques.

While Hines applauds those of us who are laboring daily in the trenches for our commitment and dedication, he urges the congregations of America to take campus ministry (and indeed, twenty-somethings in general) more seriously.  He properly notes that the “twenties” decade is remarkably significant in shaping individuals’ lives and that congregations should not shy away from meeting the needs of this group just because they are hard to manage and incredibly unpredictable.

Campus ministry veterans will nod along with much of the book, as it is a very familiar tune that many of us have been humming for years, but he is perhaps most stimulating to those of us on the field when he talks about what it would take to get the rest of American Christendom to put far more energy and resources into campus ministry.  Do we need a “spokesmodel” who would put a face on the passion that is campus ministry?  Do we need a campus ministry-themed publishing house?  Should someone develop a college-level “Youth Specialties” to put on conferences and to make campus ministry “bigger time”?

I think we all struggle with balancing our time between meeting the needs of students and educating churches and others about campus ministry, and I think that Ben Hines has done us a great service by providing a resource we can pass on for free to our constituencies and hopefully open up a more articulate dialogue about the big picture of campus ministry, rather than being obliged to defend why we spent $400 on pizza last month.  This book is not the final answer on the present state of campus ministry, nor the specific roadmap for our future, but it is a good beginning point to broaden the discussion of what needs to be done on university campuses and how our specific efforts might best dovetail with the broader mission of the local church.

Good work, Ben, in getting us thinking.  Now for the rest of us, the question remains, “So what?”

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