The Need for Campus Ministry

Why is Campus Ministry important?

Bill Bright[1] was known for saying: “Change the campus today and change the world tomorrow.” There isn’t a mission field in existence today poised to shake the foundations of global spirituality like the university campuses of the United States. Today’s students are future world leaders. Future doctors, lawyers, teachers, and professors – future journalists, counselors, businessmen, and businesswomen – future military officers, company executives, media professionals, and government leaders – all are found on the university campuses today.

This is the time in life when their worldview will be shaped. They’re seeking answers to questions like, “How did I get here and why do I exist? Is there a God? Does life have a purpose? Should I be religious? Are all religions the same?” For their sake and the sake of the people their lives will influence, truthful answers must be provided, and the only real source of truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must make it our mission to be among them to provide these answers!

The need is greater today than ever before – a strong case for this can be made just by examining the numbers.

Campus Ministry: The Need According to the Numbers

In 1965, a Houston area preacher named Wes Reagan made a presentation at the Abilene lectures entitled, The Lost Frontier (later printed in 20th Century Christian [2]). This presentation emphasized the urgent need for evangelistic work to take place on university campuses in the United States. When Reagan initially presented his speech, a little over four million students were enrolled full-time in American universities.[3] Today, enrollment is up to nearly 20 million, and that number is only expected to increase.[4]

At the time of Reagan’s sermon, if we had converted just one out of every 1,000 international students in our country, we would have produced 100 new missionaries to be sent home facing no language or cultural barriers in spreading the gospel.[5] If we did the same thing today, efforts would produce over 550 new missionaries annually[6] – this would greatly exceed the current missionary efforts of all of the Church of Christ universities combined.

In 1965, Churches of Christ were active on 80 campuses out of a possible 2,120 (mainly as educators – not evangelists).[7]  Today, we are active on less than 150 campuses[8] out of a possible 4,100.[9] That means well over 95% of the colleges and universities in the United States lack a Church of Christ campus ministry!

When you consider the fact that almost every great spiritual awakening in the United States had its beginnings among students on a university campus,[10] and that 77% of Americans who become Christians do so before the age of 21,[11] you have a very powerful case for why Christians must make a concerted effort to plant effective campus ministries.

Next –> CMU’s Mission


[1] Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ

[2] Reagan, Wesley. “The Last Frontier,” 20th Century Christian. Nashville, TN: Williams Printing Company, September 1967, pp. 11-12

[3] National Center for Education Statistics, “Total fall enrollment in institutions of higher education and degree-granting institutions, by attendance status, sex of student, and control of institution: 1947 to 1997,” July 1999. (accessed February 2008).

[4] National Center for Education Statistics, “Digest of Education Statistics: 2006,” July 2007. (accessed February 2008).

[5] Reagan, p. 11

[6] Institute of International Education, “ U.S. Sees Slowing Decline in International Student Enrollment in 2004/2005,” November 14, 2005. (accessed February 2008).

[7] Reagan, p. 12

[8] According to the 2008 CMU National Survey

[9] According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, there are 2,618 accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States. If you count two-year colleges, that number rises to over 4,100.

[10] Ma, Jaeson. The Blueprint: A Revolutionary Plan to Plant Missional Communities on Campus (Ventura, CA : Regal Books, 2007) p. 35

[11]  The Barna Research Group, “Most Christians Were Young When Saved,” The Barna Update , October 11, 2004. (accessed February 2008)