Tuesday, March 13, 2012

College and University Churches

The Collegiate Ministries Task Force is recommending a Starting and Renewing College and University Churches Initiative.

"Rationale; There are a multitude of congregations in college communities that desire to have a better mission to and with campus. There are also several congregations that are excelling at this. The University Church Initiative helps bring these two types of churches together to aid in the process. This takes some of the pressure off the collegiate ministries office and helps build collegiality among the congregations. This initiative will also involve the church development office and the church transformation office by connecting appropriate congregations to the ongoing work of those offices."

From the strategic time line and budget published, 25 congregations with some potential for growth in or starting college ministry will be identified in the summer of 2012. They will gather sometime in the summer /fall of 2012. Perhaps this would be where the OCM, and church development / church transformation lays out resources and help for those congregations. The during the next year, research and initial help of the churches is completed, and another gathering of the 25 along with some additional churches which have identified.

Categories of college churches, I assume, would be those who could use some help/ideas to ramp up their existing ministry, and those who currently have no ministry, but could with help. Churches with already strong ministries and those who don't seem to have any potential would have to be excluded.

Twenty-five College and University Churches would hopefully be spread over the five Collegiate Ministry regions, so we can figure that each region, and each regional rep, might be responsible for the nurture of five congregations.

Part of this strategy will be to develop "  an adaptive model to promote and establish local Presbyterian collegiate ministries grounded in local congregations and supported by mid-councils." No information about this model has been released yet, but judging from the composition of the Task Force, the University Church model used by congregations in the Assent network, would provide a basis for this new initiative's model. The Assent model is used by large churches near large campuses. The OCM and the CM network would have to find ways of adapting it for small congregations near small institutions.

Some questions about this area of the strategy which the full report will hopefully answer are.: What criteria will be used for determining these 25 plus churches? What resources and time line for establishment of a college ministry will be expected? If a congregation starts a campus ministry, does that count as one one the 101 worshiping communities the  collegiate ministry community will start? Will a small congregation work to start an adjacent worshiping community, rather than adding a campus ministry component to their existing ministry? Considering the spectrum of congregations, even those near campuses, how much help can an "adaptive model" be? And will there sufficient funding to implement this vision?

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