Depending on who you are – a high school or college student, parent, teacher, pastor – student ministry can mean many different things. For sure, it’s a vital part of Christian college life for everyone connected to the campus community.
- For students, it often means opportunities to minister to others. College can open the door to meaningful experiences serving other students or off-campus community members.
- For parents, pastors and others, it’s about opportunities to show love and support to students going through all the challenges of college life.
Student ministry takes many forms on Christian college campuses. Here are just a few examples of opportunities you’ll find at schools like ENC to serve and be served.
6 Examples of Impactful Student Ministry
These aren’t all the ways students can give and receive encouragement at ENC, but it’s enough to give you a good idea of what to expect on a Christian campus like ours.
1. Small Groups
While students themselves might see this as no more than hanging out with friends, small groups are among the most important student ministries on any campus.
A welcoming setting where everyone feels comfortable – especially important for new students just getting their bearings on campus – is a space where a lot of growth, joy and fun can happen.
- Through authentic conversation, you’re free to share your struggles openly. Hearing from others who can relate helps us realize we’re not alone, and that’s a huge comfort.
- Discussing issues in society gives you an opportunity to get outside your own head and get the perspective of others. In the intimacy of the group, this can be done respectfully (which so often doesn’t happen on social media!).
- Bible study in small groups can help you connect more personally to Scripture than when reading it on your own. Asking others what passages mean to them can give you new ideas on how to apply the Word to your life and grow as a disciple of Christ.
Whether led by a mentor or fellow student, small groups are a powerful example of students ministering to one another. Groups like these can make all the difference in giving you a sense of belonging and purpose, especially as you form lasting friendships.
At ENC, we help students plug into small groups either in-person or online through video conferencing platforms like Zoom.
Another great example of student ministry that’s often led by students is campus worship meetings.
It’s a great comfort for those who were raised in the church to have an outlet on campus to worship God. This may also be the first opportunity for students gifted in music to lead worship.
Many Christian college campuses have several worship gatherings during the week in addition to special events.
- Chapel is similar to a Sunday morning church service, but usually during the week. The college president, faculty, visiting ministers and sometimes students deliver a message. Students often play in the band and lead the worship time.
- Late-night gatherings organized by students are common. They tend to feel less like Sunday morning and more like an intimate praise and worship concert, where the songs may be what you sang in youth group or what you hear on Christian radio stations.
- Other worship events on campus might be larger than the late-night gatherings but just as frequent, or major bi-annual or annual events that bring people in from off-campus. Even when big names in Christian music are headlining, student worship bands (like the Chapel band) might open the event.
Worship ministry like this is pretty unique to Christian campuses. While secular schools might have Christian groups that put on events, it feels different to have the joy of worship baked into the campus culture.
That means a lot to many of our students here at ENC. Apart from chapel, they know they can gather every Thursday night at 9 pm or through Kingdom Experience worship times alongside others who are hungry to connect with the Lord. (Currently, much of this is offered virtually.)
3. Ministry Training
Of course, if you feel called to pursue ministry as a profession or semi-professional vocation, you’re thinking of student ministry as training for this future.
Christian colleges frequently offer many opportunities to gain relevant experience. Here are a couple of examples:
Traveling Ministry Teams
Summer service programs give you a chance to get off campus, often to hit the road and visit other communities, and support churches, youth groups and other ministries with your gifts.
As a member of a visiting ministry team, you may be leading worship, teaching Sunday school, providing community services for people in need, and more.
International Mission Trips
Going abroad gives you many of the same opportunities as you get going on the road to do regional ministry, with the added benefit of immersion in other cultures.
These are invaluable experiences you should take advantage of if you’re interested in international missions or doing ministry in any context you’re not familiar with.
ENC Ministry Training
We call our short-term international mission program FUSION. Trips to other countries help our students connect with what God is doing in the world across a boundary of difference.
Closer to home, ENC also sends out several ministry teams every summer to participate in camps, church and youth groups.
4. Local Church Support
Student ministry isn’t just about what happens on campus or starts from campus. It’s also about support for students that comes from the surrounding community. For Christian colleges, the most essential part of this support is from local churches.
Off-campus churches often become a church home away from home for students. While it’s true that spiritual life on campus can be very fulfilling, it is no substitute for being a part of a church body. Students often sense the difference the most on Sunday morning.
Thankfully, churches near college campuses like ours recognize the need among students for church fellowship. They tend to offer many ways for students to plug in while you’re on campus, understanding you’re likely to head home during the summers and other breaks.
We’re grateful to have many wonderful churches here in Quincy, MA and throughout the Boston area whose members welcome ENC students with open arms.
5. Spiritual Counseling
As a Christian student, you might find yourself struggling with life in ways that friends may not be able to help you with; you might wish a pastor, counselor or spiritual mentor back home was around to talk it over with in person.
Many Christian campuses make counselors available who are trained to help students with complex issues that cause emotional stress and carry spiritual weight. At ENC, we use the term chaplain, which basically means spiritual counselor.
Our student chaplains work in the same department as the people who provide other spiritual life opportunities like worship arts and service learning projects. They are as deeply invested in your spiritual wellbeing as they are in your physical, emotional and social health.
6. Prayer Ministry
For anyone who wonders what they can do for students, or for any student who feels powerless to make an impact in the world, it’s good to remember that student ministry isn’t always hands-on.
This is another distinctive feature of Christian campuses: we believe in the power of prayer.
Ultimately, we believe God is the one who changes the world. He is the one who shapes the lives of our students. So, often the most powerful act of ministry we can take part in is to pray and ask him to intervene.
At ENC, we put together a daily prayer card to encourage this spiritual ministry during this trying time since the pandemic began. It challenges all of us – students, parents, faculty, staff, alumni, anyone connected with our school – to lift up our community and world in prayer.
Eastern Nazarene College Is All-in with Student Ministry
There is so much more going on in the lives of ENC students than academic study. Every day, they are ministering to others in profound ways even as they struggle and acknowledge they need to be ministered to.
It takes the support of a community on-campus and off that is dedicated to mutual love, respect and service to see them through to the finish line and beyond.
If you’re a parent, teacher, pastor or anyone in the lives of an ENC student – or a student soon to join us – consider what student ministry means to you. Consider how you can participate.
And if you’re a student considering joining us, know that you will get all the support you need here. God willing, we are committed to filling your cup to the brim so you can do the same for others.
ENCounter student ministry at Eastern Nazarene College. Learn more today.