Monday, February 25, 2008

Ministry With College Students in the UMC and Other Places

A few years ago, I attended a leadership conference that was not sponsored by a church or denomination. The event, called "Thirsty", was not a large gathering, relatively speaking. But during the conference, one of the leaders talked about reaching out to the college students in the Northeast. He said that about 15% of all college students in the U.S. live within a 90 mile radius of Times Square. But the number of college ministries in that same area is relatively small. So this group went to Times Square and had an event for college students. They didn't know if anyone would show up. They didn't know how they could pay for it. Events in NYC are expensive. But they did it. Lots of people showed up. And the next year, this same group went to the five boroughs of NYC for more events for college students.

Oh, by the way, this same group also went to Boston during this time and had an event there.

And they continued to have a yearly gathering in the heart of the U.S. that attracted about 20,000 college students each year.

Well, last year, this same group said they had a vision to visit 25-30 cities around the world. Could they do it? Could they raise the money?

Here's the itinerary:

My challenge is to my own denomination. My own denomination is struggling with a multitude of issues (identity, christology, funding, etc). I know bigger is not always better. But why is our message not attracting more people? Is it because the message is too hard to understand? Too hard to live out? Is my denomination challenging people to such a degree that people are saying "no thanks".

My challenge is to my own denomination: What is our vision? (to make disciples....) And with all the resources we have (there are 11 million of us, after all) why are we not having events that attract large crowds of people? Why are we not starting new ministries? Why are we not taking our message to places around the world?

My own denomination is closing down ministries with college students. But the experts tell us that the number of college students will increase during the next few years. Will the church be there? Oh, i know the CHURCH will be there? But will my own denomination be there?

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