Protecting Your Investment: Five Benefits of Ministering to College Students

in Student Issues on September 26, 2012

Being able to minister to college students has been one of the best opportunities I’ve been given. Walking alongside this age group has been a pure joy, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, from my last post, I noticed one of the biggest concerns other student ministers had was the idea of taking on more work, and that means you have to give up more of your time. I believe that is a valid concern, and I wanted to address this issue first by sharing who I believe among us should work towards ministering to college students. Some of you are already pulling double duty, which means you are the minister of youth and worship, youth and children, youth and fill in the blank. Others of you are called specifically to minister to middle school or high school students. Finally, there those  who are  bi-vocational or volunteer ministers. If you fit into any of these categories, I don’t expect you to take on more because you’re already overloaded as is, and giving more will just burn you out. But in the end, if you  feel lead to figure out a way to minister to college students, you have my permission to go for it!
That leaves those, like myself, who are full-time youth ministers and only work with middle school and high school students. If that’s you, then I believe you should consider and pray about making an effort to ministering to college students. I know you’re busy, so am I, and I’m sure you’re already thinking, “This guy doesn’t know my schedule.” That may be, but take a moment to consider something for me. If you already believe you’re too busy, but are able to find one more event to do with your youth group, then you have more time than you think you do. And instead of planning one more youth event, you can use that time to minister to college students.
With all that said, here are 5 benefits to ministering to college students:

  1. Credibility. We may do our best to be professional, but at the end of the day, whether we like it or not, there will be members of our congregation who only see us as people who like to play dodge ball. Now this doesn’t mean we stop playing dodge ball or being professional, but when we minister to college students, we are now ministering in the adult realm. This changes the perspective of others because we are now dealing with the serious issues only adults face. This doesn’t mean teenage issues aren’t serious, but there is a major difference between the two, and being able to minister to adults only adds to our credibility
  2. Encouragement. Working with teenagers can get depressing at times because of the many “what were you thinking” moments we deal with. Ministering to college students encourages me because they remind me teenage hood is only a phase in life. I get to see their faith after graduation, and its truly amazing to see them finally get it when it comes to having a relationship with Christ. This encourages me to no end and only fuels my passion to work with teenagers even more.
  3. Ministry Effectiveness. I believe working with college students has made me more effective when it comes to ministering to teenagers. Like I mentioned above, seeing the other side of graduation opens your eyes to a much larger picture. Like our teenagers, we can forget they will be adults one day, which can cause us to only minister to them in the present, and not the future. Being able to see the other side has helped me focus my efforts on what matters most to prepare students for life after graduation.
  4. Greater Influence. Because of the phase of life college students are in, you will have a greater influence on them than you will on a middle school or high school student. College students understand there are true consequences to life now, and they’re more open to hearing what you have to say. When you speak into the life of a college student, they truly take your words to heart. This influence opens the door to have more one on one mentoring relationships with my college students, which makes a dramatic difference in their walk with Christ.
  5. More Pay. Not that you should minister to college students for more money, but now you have a valid reason why a church should pay you more. Think about it? A children’s minister can work with new born all the way to 5th or 6th grade, depending on when the students at your church enter the youth group. Children’s ministers are working with an 11 to 12 year age span. Our pastors work with all ages and so do our music ministers as well. And we have the audacity to say we need to be paid more when we only minister to a group of people that only lasts 6 0r 7 years. When you choose to minister to college students, the age span you minister to can go from 6 to 7 years to 15 to 19 years, depending on the cut off line you decide for young adult ministry. When you minister to a larger group of people, you better believe your church will be more willing to pay you more.
In the end, as I was reading through what I wrote, I realized I sounded a little harsh, jaded, or even critical towards those who only minister to teenagers. If I did, I apologize, and know that wasn’t the purpose of this article. My purpose is to get you thinking about taking the next step and experiencing the joy I have received from protecting my investment. I write through the lens of one who has seen the other side of graduation, and because of it, I am passionate about seeing my fellow laborers in Christ join me in ministering to this age group.
If you minister to college/young adults, what are some other benefits you would add to this list?

 

Addison Roberts at 2:54 pm

I am a youth and Chi Alpha pastor. I would add a couple things to the list:
Opportunity: In many cases, campuses are only about 5% reached but are ripe for the harvest.
Challenge(kind of like credibility): As a young college minister, I am not only asking what I went through in HS but what am I going through now as I prepare messages. What are those challenges of young adulthood that I am pretending aren’t there?
Education: If you went to a Christian School, the secular campus is NOTHING like what you experienced. Kids got kicked out for sexual activity at VFCC. It happened almost yearly. The secular campus is much more….let’s say “free thinking.” As a youth pastor, I understood for the first time the difference between the two and what my students were choosing if they chose a secular school. The pressure to live “the college life” is very real.
Enjoyment: I don’t have to pull punches with college students and I love it. The inappropriate youth topic is fair game on campus.
I am sorry if I rambled but these are the first few that came to mind. Your post is fantastic. I appreciate it

Reply
Joshua Fuentes at 3:20 pm

Thank you Addison. I really appreciate your contribution to the benefits and agree with you 100%, especially when it comes to opportunity and enjoyment. One of the funnest things about ministering to college students is the freedom to talk about topics, without worrying about someone getting in an uproar. They’re willing to talk about the deep stuff and its truly awesome being able to walk alongside them. Keep up the great work!

Reply
Addison Roberts at 2:54 pm

I am a youth and Chi Alpha pastor. I would add a couple things to the list:
Opportunity: In many cases, campuses are only about 5% reached but are ripe for the harvest.
Challenge(kind of like credibility): As a young college minister, I am not only asking what I went through in HS but what am I going through now as I prepare messages. What are those challenges of young adulthood that I am pretending aren’t there?
Education: If you went to a Christian School, the secular campus is NOTHING like what you experienced. Kids got kicked out for sexual activity at VFCC. It happened almost yearly. The secular campus is much more….let’s say “free thinking.” As a youth pastor, I understood for the first time the difference between the two and what my students were choosing if they chose a secular school. The pressure to live “the college life” is very real.
Enjoyment: I don’t have to pull punches with college students and I love it. The inappropriate youth topic is fair game on campus.
I am sorry if I rambled but these are the first few that came to mind. Your post is fantastic. I appreciate it

Reply
Joshua Fuentes at 3:20 pm

Thank you Addison. I really appreciate your contribution to the benefits and agree with you 100%, especially when it comes to opportunity and enjoyment. One of the funnest things about ministering to college students is the freedom to talk about topics, without worrying about someone getting in an uproar. They’re willing to talk about the deep stuff and its truly awesome being able to walk alongside them. Keep up the great work!

Reply
Frank Gil at 11:05 am

This is a good post, however, I haven’t been able to convince my church of point 5. HAHA
But seriously! Great job Josh. I think if you can do both. you have just created a ministry in your church where you are shaping peoples lives in their more formative years! Having unity and congruence in that is awesome!

Reply
Joshua Fuentes at 3:44 pm

Thanks Frank! I love how you used the words unity and congruence together. Being able to minister to both brings a holistic approach when it comes to ministering to students. Being able to to minister to college students has given me a new perspective when it comes to ministering to teenagers. Do you get the opportunity to minister to college students as well?

Reply
Frank Gil at 11:05 am

This is a good post, however, I haven’t been able to convince my church of point 5. HAHA
But seriously! Great job Josh. I think if you can do both. you have just created a ministry in your church where you are shaping peoples lives in their more formative years! Having unity and congruence in that is awesome!

Reply
Joshua Fuentes at 3:44 pm

Thanks Frank! I love how you used the words unity and congruence together. Being able to minister to both brings a holistic approach when it comes to ministering to students. Being able to to minister to college students has given me a new perspective when it comes to ministering to teenagers. Do you get the opportunity to minister to college students as well?

Reply

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