3 Reasons We Avoid Community Colleges and Why Those Reasons Don't Matter

Community colleges represent a unique challenge for campus ministry. 

Walk around your average community college and you'll be hard pressed to find any campus ministry presence.  If you do, you'll be hard pressed to find a campus minister.  And if you do manage to find a campus minister, you'll be hard pressed to find someone working there full time.  Seriously ... hard pressed.*

Ministry at a community college is difficult, but that shouldn't stop us.  And here's why:

1) Lack of demand

Students at community colleges often pop in and off campus.  They aren't really looking for community or for friends.  They already have friends.  And they usually aren't looking for a campus ministry.

It's easy to feel that there's no demand for what we do.

But the reality is that where there's little demand, there's little competition.  Walk around on campus at a big, four-year, state school and dozens of organizations jostle you and vie for your attention.  Take the same walk at a community college (or a recently converted community college) and there's very little.  Just you and students.  A few organizations, but the noise is so much less.

This is a special opportunity.

2) Funding and alumni

Campus ministry staff don't charge students and rarely take up offerings on campus.  We rely on donors and partners, local churches and alumni.

But community colleges rarely have stong alumni financial bases.  The students who get high-paying jobs often transferred to 4 year schools and, if they send money back, they tend to send it back to their last school.  And so we stay away, thinking we can't fund campus ministry in these places.

But the reality is community colleges can support campus ministry.

A lot of community college students graduate and get paying jobs.  They don't spend a decade in grad school.  Why can't they support us?

And a lot of community college students have deep roots in the local community.  Churches send their students to the local these schools.  Why can't they support us?

This is a special opportunity.

3) Respect

This is the sticky wicket. 

We are respecters of persons.  The four-year schools and big universities have money and influence, so we give them respect.  We show them respect by showing up.

And we avoid community colleges because we think they have nothing to offer us.  No one asks us if we're there.  No one looks disrespectfully at us if we're not there.  No one would take us seriously if we were only there.

But God is there.  And he's no respecter of persons.  He's wildly at work on the unreached edges of the world and I'll be honest, I've never seen as much hunger for God on campus as I have when I've walked around campuses where no campus ministry exists.

This is a special opportunity.

What other reasons have you heard for avoiding community colleges?

*One of the main reasons I came to South Florida was because I wanted to work on campuses without a strong campus ministry presence.  Since moving down here, I've been so encouraged to find people with the same heart and vision: Paul, Gus, Danny, Bill ... to name a few.

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