College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture: Review

For anyone working with college students on a campus or in a church (or both), you may want to pick up the book College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture by Stephen Lutz. Not only is it well-written and useful, but it’s also important that publishers begin to realize that publishing books related to campus ministry is important, and that there IS a market for them! Right now it’s hard to get published if you’re writing specifically about campus ministry. Maybe there needs to be a publisher who takes on this area specifically (like Youth Specialties, but for college and young adults).

Anyway, Lutz does a good job of laying out a vision for college ministry as mission. Of course many of us would affirm that without reading the book, but Lutz helps the reader to reflect on what his/her campus ministry actually is about. He uses a tree metaphor to describe our campus ministries– roots that are in the gospel, community and mission of God, trunk and branches of evangelism, discipleship and leadership, and then the fruit of the city and global movements that happen when college students graduate and live their lives missionally.

Lutz seems to have the spiritual gift of evangelism. While we all need to be evangelists, some of us, I believe, are more gifted at it than others. From his stories, it seems like he is one of these. While I can’t say I disagree with him on the call for us to be missional, I also have to admit that I’m not sure that I’m especially gifted in ministering to M3 and M4 students (those with significant hurdles- culturally, ethnically, etc.). Lutz believes these are our primary people we should be ministering to. While I agree on one hand, I also believe in the real need of evangelizing christians, in the way that there are many people who believe they are christians, but they have no relationship with God. I feel particularly called to ministering to this group of people. I think depending on where your spiritual gifts lie, one will write a book about campus ministry from a particular set of lenses that is heavy on one gift (which we can see in Hirsch’s books, which Lutz references, as well as many others).

I’m left with a question that is fundamental to this book- are we in a post-christian culture? Having lived in Philadelphia for a couple months, I have already noticed a big difference in the religious, or lack of, culture compared to the south or the mid-west. Places are not only open on Sundays, but people have yard sales on Sundays. There are churches here, of course, but they are all smaller. And while I’m sure there are christian bookstores around here somewhere, we have yet to see one. I could see how this place would be post-Christian. But, I’m not sure that Lutz’s book would apply as much to campuses in the south and mid-west. Times are changing, of course, and maybe they are post-christian there too (it’s been 4 years since I’ve been out of campus ministry in the midwest). For those of you who are ministering in the mid-west and south, what do you think, and what is the evidence that makes you think that way?

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