Posted by: naccm | November 25, 2009

Measuring Success by the Future


How do we in campus ministry measure success?
I have thought a lot about this over the years and have come to this conclusion:
The success of any campus ministry is found in what its students are doing five, 10, 15 years in the future.
Are most of them still walking faithfully with the Lord?  Are they making an impact for the Kingdom?  Are they growing in spiritual maturity?  If the answer is yes to those questions, then I would say that ministry is successful.
It is tempting to define success in the present by how many students are involved in our ministry, and how many conversions and baptisms we have experienced?  And if this is our definition, then it’s easier to gear our ministries toward things that are entertaining and shallow.  However, what significance do these numbers have if, years later, those students are no longer following the Lord, having an impact for the Kingdom, or growing in spiritual maturity?
I think we as campus ministry workers need to take the long view and plan accordingly.  Our success is found in the faithfulness of students for their entire lives, so while we obviously seek to attract students to our ministries, we should not be satisfied with just having them there and making our yearly programs successful.  We should ask ourselves: Are we ministering to them in such a way that equips them to remain faithful servants of our Lord for the rest of their lives?  In my mind, that’s the measure by which we gauge our success.
Jim Musser, Campus Minister
CCF at Appachian State University
Words from the Well


  1. Amen and amen. This is one of the big pieces that seems to be missing from a large percentage of college ministry. While any individual student can flake out – despite receiving exactly the ministry they should – it should be clear that their experiences with us generally propel them into a lifetime of following Christ.

    Fortunately (though frighteningly), Facebook and other social media give us means to follow up on many of our students (including the ones who aren’t our “inner circle”), although finding other evaluative tools would be helpful.

  2. I loved the post Jim. It makes perfect sense.
    I interact with a lot of college ministers who have only been on their current campus for 2-3 yrs.
    How do we (or should we) evaluate the success of these college ministries?

    • I think that no matter how long you have been on campus (or how long you will stay), the key is to view your ministry to students in the long term–taking them wherever they are but helping them lay a spiritual foundation that they can build on the rest of their lives.

  3. A very wise campus minister in Albany, NY told me to make sure to start early and form a plan to stay connected with my alumni. I’m finding that many campus ministries have lost track of their alumni, have no idea where they are. This is our 6th year on campus and we’ve been working hard this year to put a plan into place. I believe alumni connections also answers the long term question of support raising.

    Does anyone have a great system with their alumni?

  4. Justin,
    The organization I am a part of has made the same observations regarding alumni connections for raising support. Right now we’re partnering with a college ministry who is trying to raise support for a ministry project by reaching out to their alumni. It has been a struggle because they’ve never really kept track of them.
    I’ve found an outside company that does alumni relations full time. This organization said you need to do a solid year of “alumni relationship management” before asking for support. Their model may work for college ministries.

  5. Keep an up-to-date alumni list. It does no good for your future replacement that you know who the alumni are. At ASU CCF, we are trying to do a much better job with keeping up with alums. As with youth ministers, it is always tempting (and easier) to focus on who is coming into our groups than those who have left.

    One big challenge, particularly as it relates to support, is staff consistency. In a very short time, the only person/people the alum will know is the staff. If they don’t have some current connection to the ministry, I think it is difficult to get them to support it. Further reason for long-term ministry!

  6. […] much appreciated the perspective of Jim Musser about a retrospective approach to defining success, and having initially launched in Boston under […]

  7. […] The newest topical posts (and GREAT comments from others) at Heart of Campus Ministry can be found right here (on measuring success by the future, from Jim Musser) and here (on an evaluation tool Tim Hawkins […]

  8. […] success by the future. You can read his perspective over at the Heart of Campus Ministry Blog here.  Jim makes this statement early in his post, “The success of any campus ministry is found […]

  9. […] Jim Musser on measuring success by the future […]

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