I wrote the last blog on Monday at around 6am… after being up all night finishing up the book versions and the book site. That whole process involved plenty of Mountain Dew, computer snags, and DVDs, plus driving 7 miles away at 5:30 in the morning to get faster internet (long story).
So it was good and right for me to take yesterday off!
For today, here are some updates on the ebook project I thought you might be interested in. I really appreciate everybody’s support. We’re all in this together, and the more the book spreads, the better our field will be improved!
If you haven’t seen the book, I encourage you to check it out. It’s pretty. Download it here.
mobile version: The iPhone / mobile version is ready and is made to view directly in the web browser on your phone. (Or you can just copy the file to your phone.) Reach it directly at reachingthecampustribes.com/mobile.
strong feedback so far: The feedback on the book so far has been really great. I’ve been hearing from both people I know and people I don’t, and I’m really hopeful that the book will impact lots of people. Plenty of people have been joining the Facebook group, too. That’s the thing to do if you want to get occasional updates on this whole project.
blog hype: If you want to see the various college ministry blogs that have been pointing people to the site, they’re listed in the sidebar at the book site. Thanks, pals! Keep it coming!
help the cause now active: The “help the cause” link at the book site is now active, and you can find that page here, too.
road trip #11: This has nothing to do with the book, but stay tuned for info on Road Trip #11. It’s turning out to be a pretty big one… And I leave in a week!
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Reaching the Campus Tribes (A First Inquiry) goes public tomorrow!
Until then, here’s another excerpt from the ebook. This one comes from Chapter 2, “Exploring the Campus Tribes.” While I certainly didn’t belabor my own history in the book, I was able to describe briefly in that chapter how I ended up on a yearlong college ministry research-road-trip in the first place.
Here’s a portion from the middle of that story (from pages 12 and 13, to be exact):
So when church leaders decided to defund the College Minister position at the end of that school year, I was not too surprised. Although I recognized the advances we had made and saw a bright future for our ministry if we would continue to push forward, it was hard to blame the leaders for their decision. Who had trained them in the unique nuances of college ministry? What books or leaders proclaimed its importance? Then why would they evaluate college ministry any differently than youth ministry or the other Christian Education ministries in our church?
what came next
After years of ministering to college students and connecting with other ministry leaders, I already knew how unappreciated and misunderstood college ministry is among American Christians. This newest experience simply made the issues even more real to me, because I too had felt the sting of these problems.
I began to ask God if there might be something I could do right then, as a 28-year-old single guy, to help college ministry grow stronger as an entire “field of ministry.” I had noticed that Christians’ interest in college ministry seemed to be growing; could I somehow help stoke that fire?
It was my friend Steven who first threw out the idea of taking a road trip to see college ministry in action across the nation. I scoffed a bit at first, but the truth is, that suggestion wasn’t as out-of-the-blue as it might seem…
Download the book for free at www.reachingthecampustribes.com!
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Chapter 6 of the new book is a quirky little interlude, but I actually really like it being in there. Entitled “Practical Concerns,” it addresses some of the key issues Christians have about practicing college ministry. Chapter 5 of the book discusses why college ministry matters; Chapter 6 (hopefully) precludes the objections that arise even after people have all those great reasons to reach college students.
Here’s the beginning of Chapter 6:
Even though there may be strong reasons to prioritize college ministry, it still must be practical for the many churches, denominations, and parachurch groups who will be involved. So it’s very important to address common concerns about taking on this task.
The most common objections to pursuing college ministry arise from the following areas:
- The short time frame and transitory nature of the college years
- Past difficulties experienced in trying to impact college students
- Not enjoying the fruits of our labors, because students graduate and move on
- The unspiritual or uninterested nature of collegiate culture
- The financial cost involved, without receiving financial return from the students
We might assume these objections most often come from pastors and churches. But they can apply just as much to those in campus-based and Christian college settings, as well as to denominational leaders and members, parachurch participants, and anyone else who might consider connecting to the campus tribes.
I’ll address these concerns in the following pages…
Reaching the Campus Tribes will be released on Monday, April 20th; it can be downloaded for free at www.reachingthecampustribes.com.
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A couple of excerpts from Reaching the Campus Tribes, Chapter 3:
Many books could be written (and should be written) about the histories, accomplishments, and advances of Evangelical college ministry in America. Some large national ministries have been impactful for decades. The same is true for many individual college ministries, from the best-known at Christian colleges, secular campuses, and in churches, to the hundreds of ministries less well-known but still powerfully changing students’ lives. I look forward to telling (and hearing) more stories of what God has already done in college ministry, because they are wonderful stories that glorify Him and encourage the Body of Christ.
But as I discussed in the first chapter, I’m writing this particular book to present a better way to think about college ministry. My year of research gave ample opportunity to see that American Christians are in desperate need of a new vision for reaching these people. If we don’t change, we will continue to lose our influence with each successive generation.
When Christians wonder about the state of college ministry, it is easy to assume this area is being handled just fine. But we can always pick-and-choose examples in this regard. We may be most familiar with the largest national ministries, with ministries at a specific college, with the strongest ministries in our denomination, or with the most effective college ministries in our region. And with that basic information and nothing to indicate otherwise, it’s easy to assume that all is well…
Parents and youth pastors may assume their high school graduates will find active, effective college ministries when they go to school. They may also assume that those students will find student-friendly churches that welcome them with open arms.
Church leaders may assume that college campuses near their church have solid spiritual opportunities for students, removing any need to get involved as a church.
And when students attend Christian colleges, everyone may assume they will emerge four years later in better spiritual shape than when they entered.
All too often, these assumptions turn out to be untrue.
As I traveled the nation, I discovered three major problems limiting our effectiveness in reaching students…
the book will be released on Monday – for free – at www.reachingthecampustribes.com.
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Last week, I shared the table of contents and cover from the upcoming ebook, Reaching the Campus Tribes (going public April 20th).
Today, some words from Chapter 1 that point to the purpose of this book and a glimpse at some of its “bold ideas” for the field of college ministry. Here’s that excerpt:
…So this short book is more proclamation than primer, more megaphone than microscope, an “opening inquiry” rather than any final word. It may seem to have too few illustrations, too few evidences, and even too few pages. But I hope this book raises questions and drives people to find out more. And if this book does fuel an interest in college ministry, then I and countless others will have many opportunities to share examples, spiritual insights, facts, arguments, and “best practices” for this field.
For now, this book is the urgent message I would share with Christian leaders over coffee, not the ultimate “how-to” for this vital area. I have focused here on the big picture, which means I don’t get to discuss all the specific skills, methods, and spiritual needs involved.
But the big picture still gives us bold ideas to consider. For example, I will discuss:
- How ministry to college students is quite different from both young adult ministry and youth ministry.
- How college campuses are a lot like tribes.
- What commonalities are shared by the three “branches” of college ministry.
- How strategic student discipleship is lacking in many Christian colleges.
- Why a large, city-wide worship service for college students is often a terrible way to jump-start a college ministry.
- Why better college ministry will lead to better youth ministry, better young adult ministry, and better missions work.
- Why college ministry is “R&D” for Christianity.
- Why churches with no plan for college students should help their high school kids find another church – and what it actually means for a church to have a College Student Plan.
- How Christians can approach college ministry in many ways beyond the “classic” forms.
- Why impacting college students is a far more practical undertaking than many people assume.
- And many other important ideas.
Reaching the Campus Tribes will be out April 20th!
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Here’s the table of contents for the upcoming Reaching the Campus Tribes (An Opening Inquiry), which will be publicly released here for free on April 20th!
And below the table of contents… the cover! (It’s pretty cool if you ask me; click the pic to see it bigger.)
- Look to the Fields: introducing the campus tribes
- Exploring the Campus Tribes: how i ended up on a yearlong journey to 181 campus tribes, and what i experienced
- White unto Harvest: why our present work isn’t enough
- Reaching the Campus Tribes: a new outlook to improve our efforts
- The Harvest is Plentiful: why reaching the campus tribes could change everything, and other reasons this matters
- Practical Concerns: why greater work among the campus tribes is practical in light of the difficulties
- Orienting (A Conclusion and Vision Trip)
- Into the Harvest – A Road Map Forward from a Road Trip’s Findings: specific steps forward for reaching the campus tribes
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Coming April 20, 2009! An absolutely free ebook with the first findings from a yearlong exploration…
(Meanwhile, there’s plenty to read at www.exploringcollegeministry.com!)
Reaching the Campus Tribes is an extensive, picture-illustrated ebook discussing why (and how) American Christians should make college ministry a priority. This book is written by Benson Hines following his yearlong road trip exploring college ministry throughout the country. His adventure took him to 181 campuses, through 44 states, and into hundreds of research activities.
Reaching the Campus Tribes serves as an “opening inquiry” on this vital topic. While college ministers and their student leaders will (hopefully) love and benefit from this book, it’s specifically written for other Christian leaders who might need new ways to think about college ministry – and new reasons to care about college ministry.
Benson has served among the “campus tribes” for nearly a decade. Besides his college ministry experience, he has an M.A. in Theology, has freelance writing experience, and is now getting to speak to various audiences about what he learned on that amazing trip. He also blogs daily about college ministry at www.exploringcollegeministry.com.
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As I’ve noted a couple of times, the very first “publication” from the trip won’t exactly be “published” at all… It’s an ebook, and right now it’s looking like it may very well go out in March. I’m really excited.
But our first reaction to an ebook might just be… “Huh?” So here’s some info to turn that “huh?” into “hooray!” (or something similar).
Throughout the trip, I assumed that ultimately something would need to be written about everything I was learning and otherwise getting out of this trip. But as I progressed, I realized there might actually need to be multiple books for multiple audiences. (One of the biggest writing dangers is trying to pack TOO much into a single book.)
Yet I knew raising the value of college ministry was my number one cause, and I also knew that helping make college ministry a bigger priority would help lay the groundwork for anything else I – and others – might be able to do. So it made sense to go after that goal first – and quickly.
Meanwhile, I realized how popular spreading ideas via ebook is becoming. So I honestly chose to do an ebook – actually, I made that decision while I was still on the trip – rather than attempting to find a publisher (or even self-publish) right off the bat.
Why? Ultimately, producing an ebook before I worry about more traditional publishing routes allows me to…
- …share these ideas quickly; regular publishing would take a good year or more.
- …get these ideas into people’s hands without the traditional barriers – including price.
- …involve my fellow college ministers in the process. (Without your help, this will go nowhere.)
- …make use of pictures from the trip. (Believe me, there are a lot of pictures.)
- …build momentum for continuing to work my heart out for college ministry.
(While Christian ministry may be behind the curve on this stuff, ebooks are becoming quite a popular way for spreading ideas in the business world and several other fields. Check out changethis.com or scribd.com for some examples.)
All that being said, I don’t fully know what I’m doing. So any suggestions would be much appreciated!
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