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College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture Paperback – September 1, 2011
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About the Author
STEPHEN LUTZ is a leading thinker and practitioner in campus ministry. He currently serves with Coalition for Christian Outreach at Penn State University, and is the author of College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture.
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Today's college students are in the midst of a quick and dramatic shift. They are balancing dramatic changes in their own lives while dealing with uncertainties in a world around them. In a culture that is no longer predominantly Christian, college ministry workers can no longer assume the students on their campuses have a basic understanding of Christ or his Church. In College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture, Stephen Lutz translates missional theology to the practice of college ministry.
He presents this ministry as a proactive movement that is constantly adapting to its changing environment. The author uses the illustration of a tumbleweed to describe the modern day student on campus. They are shallowly rooted because of the shift away from Christianity.
Therefore, sense they are shallowly rooted they are blown away based off of the winds of popular opinion and the ever changing tide of the culture. The author seeks to encourage students to be like a tree and be deeply rooted, so that growth can occur. When tumbleweeds see an Oak Tree firmly planted, that should lead to Christian students being able to give the reason for the hope that they have.
This kind of real relationships only happens by living in community with each other and not seeking only safe places at the school to gather with other Christians. There are two major convictions that drive Steve’s writing on this subject, the first is that college students are the most strategic ministry people group in the world today; and the second is that we need to change the ways we reach college students in order to help them become more missional. This book is written to interpret the challenges of campus ministry through a missional lens.
This book is a calling for Christians to step away from their past way of doing campus ministry, that would draw large crowds because the culture was mainly for Christians. The author points out that we are now the away team in the post-Christian culture of most college campuses. Therefore, we should not focus most of our resources and time on the small percentage of students that would actually come to a large gathering, but to seek to engage the other 90 percent.
In this book the author also encourages college students to play a role in campus ministry. These students are encouraged to be a disciple that is making disciples, who then goes out and makes disciples. The author calls them stop using college as a place to realize their plans and ambitions, but to use it instead as a place where they are joining with God in His plan for the campus.
This book is not a practical guide full of techniques on how to make your college ministry grow. Instead it is a book of stories of how the author shared the gospel at Penn State and a collection of questions to ask to engage students in conversations. The author himself points this out by saying, “I cannot tell you what to do exactly because that is what you need to come to by reading your Bible, praying, listening to the Holy Spirit, and discerning the culture and people groups to whom God has sent you” (88).
Throughout the book, Lutz challenges college ministers to take missional theology and translate it “to the field of college ministry” (15). Lutz accomplishes this goal in a way that is clear and easily transferable to whatever campus context the reader find themselves engaged in. The book is broken down into three parts; part one seeks to introduce the reader to what missional identity is; part two contextualizes missional identity onto a college campus and part three looks at how churches and parachurch ministries can find unity in their mission to college campuses and concludes with a forecast of what may come in the future of college ministry.
The claims in this book are well supported. All of his claims are based off of real life experiences on a college campus. This is not a book about theory on what might or might not work, but really a recording of what has worked for him on a very lost campus at Penn State. The authors stories bring a strength and evidence for his challenges and argumentation.
A weakness that one might perceive in this book is that this just might be an isolated Penn State problem. However, the author backs up his claims that it could work for any campus ministry in America by referencing several studies including those done by Barna to show that college campuses all across America, even those in the Bible-Belt are seeing the same kinds of challenges among college students. Therefore, this book can be used for your college ministry regardless of your denominational background or whether you are working with a church or a parachurch organization.
The author does not just simply use practical advice that he gained from experience on campus, but also uses Biblical and theological arguments to back up his claims. We see this in his claims that we are to be like the early church and be more missional. He compares the ministries of Peter and Paul and points out that most of our ministries on college campuses are going to be like Paul’s and not like Peter on the day of Pentecost. The author also seeks to Biblically redeem every college students favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11.
In comparison of other books in the field of college ministry, there are some that are more theological, there are some that are more practical, and there are some that do a better job apologetically. However, the contribution that this book brings is in the area of how churches should be equipping the 10 percent to reach the 90 percent. This work gives us an example of how he worked out his missional faith on the campus of Penn State in hopes that it can get his readers moving in the right direction on their campuses so that when the campuses are met we will be literally reaching, not only the world, but its future leaders.
This resource will equip college ministry staff, pastors, churches, and student leaders to minister effectively to today's college students with both depth and practical insight. Lutz walks you through the approaches needed to establish, grow and maintain a missional college ministry. Lutz’s book can be an effective aid to campus ministry leaders not just because it can help them reach their campuses for Christ today, but because it will help them equip today’s campus workers for effective service outside the campus in the future. It also can be an informative tool for anyone who wants to help launch teens toward gospel work as they go off to college.
I appreciate how Lutz cuts beneath the inspirational rhetoric so typical of this genre, and immediately translates "missional theology to the practice of college ministry."
A big theme throughout the book is the urgency to reproducing disciples, not just converts.
Lutz spends a considerable amount of time fighting the tendency to fall back on the usual modernist ministry proclivities such as concert infatuation, assembly-line efficiency, and head-counting as the sole measurement of success. He articulates the gospel masterfully, restoring college outreach back to the basics of one-on-one, long term discipleship. Lutz then ends the book with a call to die to self-absorption. Yes, I know... that's how ministry should look. But this is one of the first books I've read with a college focus that orients itself around the Great Commission of Jesus with such purity.
The layout of the book is a trisect of short, charged admonitions that move along like a narrative. Borrowing from a tree analogy, Lutz illustrates the activity of an effective college ministry as,
1) being rooted in the Gospel,
2) growing out in mission, and
3) bearing fruit that will last in discipleship.
This small paperback is dynamic considering its few pages and sharp focus.
As a college pastor in Southern California, former college student, millennial, and product of a college environment, I found the book well-suited to train others (myself included) for reaching out to campuses with the hope of long-term fruit. I wish I had read this book years ago.
Though the "college ministry" in the book title seems to imply a pastoral modus operandi, this is a book for ANYONE who wants to engage the college campus setting with results that will last. In fact, having wrestled with many of the obstacles that Lutz presents, both as a college pastor and a former student, I am suggesting this book as a MUST read.
He challenges us to "orient everything we do to God's mission, which is to reconcile and restore God's fallen creation to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what we mean by missional. This reclaiming of our identity changes everything. Nothing is the same; our entire Christian life takes on a new tone and quality - a new ethos."
Throughout the chapters, the author gives insight after insight of how we need to reexamine how we look at College Ministry. But he does more than that...he challenges the reader with how we need to reexamine ministry as a whole. The truths are universal because the goal is getting the Good News of the gospel to those who need it.
BUY THIS BOOK! It will be well worth the money you spend. In fact, I have purchased several copies and given them as gifts because I truly believe, as the author states, "Kingdom living changes our plans and priorities. It requires us to lay down our lives to bless, renew, and redeem God's creation."