Book Review: College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture

Review by Jon Wymer

I’ll be honest: The idea of reading this book had me dragging my feet, weary of one more iteration of “missionality.” There are so many sages with their own unique spin on more of the same new thing. But I was surprisingly refreshed.

This book is specific to campus ministry. If you’re willing to think it through, you may find Lutz helpful for a youth-ministry context. Is there part of you that wonders how the church could make disciples of any type of person? Lutz’s book might spark a new passion in you.

College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture is about what the church is supposed to be about: making disciples. If you are committed to programs, you will find a way to miss the point Lutz makes. If you find “more activities” hasn’t worked and hunger for more, this might just be the book to sharpen your focus.

Jon Wymer is lead pastor of York (Neb.) EFC and active with the EFCA’s Missional Architects.

Review by Jennifer Kvamme

The author writes: “I think our campuses are among the most exciting places to be in the world today. They are like our greatest cities in that respect. And like our great cities, they simultaneously display both the best and the worst of humanity.”

Stephen Lutz writes with both realism and great hope, and I found his words convicting and motivating. On the one hand, he pushes readers to examine their ministries. Are we really equipping students for the mission? Are we working together with other ministries on campus, or are we all fighting for the same small percentage of students? How are we reaching those who will never set foot in a Christian meeting? He challenges our strategy, our time, our programs, our methods and even our hearts.

But his tone is always hopeful. With insight into the changes in college culture over the past few decades, he helps us better understand the current landscape and what it will take to reach this generation. He doesn’t give simple answers, but he does offer practical ideas and relevant questions—interspersed with stories of how he has learned, experienced or applied what he’s teaching.

This book is a great tool not just for those in campus ministry but for any with a heart to reach the students in our communities.

Jennifer Kvamme is student ministries coordinator at Centennial EFC (Forest Lake, Minn.). She also works part-time for Cadre Ministries, developing training materials for local churches and youth ministries.

Review by Dan Benson

In this book, the major recurring theme is making disciples who make disciples and not just producing converts. It’s about long-term relationships and not about head counting or seeing how many people you can get to attend a weekly event.

Lutz writes from years of experience as a campus leader, most recently in his work with the Coalition for Christian Outreach at Penn State University. His primary emphasis is on being missional on campuses and not just on sharing techniques or strategies.

As someone who started his Christian life working for the gospel in a campus environment, I particularly appreciate what Lutz has to say in the closing chapters on equipping and sending laborers from the college campuses out into the world.

On the campus, I became chained to the tried but not so true techniques of college ministry. When I graduated, those techniques didn’t translate so well to living in a noncampus environment. To use Lutz’s term, I was still wearing my campus “costume.” It took me years to rewire my brain to not rely on programs and to quit trying to reach “the unchurched” and instead learn to be a more missional person toward my neighbors and co-workers.

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.

Dan Benson is a journalist and a member of Friedens EFC in Port Washington, Wis.

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