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Jason is the founder of Ignite Student Ministries, a dynamic ministry igniting youth, young adults and university students to passionately pursue Christ and transform society in high schools, work places and universities around the world.

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6 Lessons from 12 Years of College Ministry

Jason VanaJason Vana
Photo Credit: Michael Greenberg (Creative Commons)

Photo Credit: Michael Greenberg (Creative Commons)

I have been doing college ministry now for almost 12 years now.

In that time, I’ve learned a number of lessons that not only apply in college ministry, but life in general. I wish I could say this wisdom was beamed straight from heaven into my more than hungry brain, but the truth is, these lessons were learned in the trenches – through trial and a lot of errors.

Either way, here are my top 6 life lessons learned from 12 years of college ministry:

1. If you want to impact someone’s life, meet them where they are at.
Don’t expect people to come to you. Don’t expect them to come to your church. Jesus never told us to bring people to a building. He told us to meet them where they are at – in the marketplace, at school, in their mess and junk and pain.

2. If you want to change someone’s life, show them you believe in them.
The biggest part of my ministry to college students: pointing out the potential within them. Every single person knows where they fail and how they don’t measure up. Most people can’t see the gift they are. Point that out to people, and let them know you believe they can do it, and it will change their life.

3. Technology is great. Personal interaction is better.
The advent of cell phones, texting, and social media make it easy for us to stay connected any where, any time, but nothing replaces personal, undivided time with another person. Put the cell phone down. Turn off the tablet. And spend some personal time with people.

4. Know how you’re wired.
We all are wired differently. Know how you’re wired. I am a cause-driven person. I will always choose charging the field to achieve the cause God has placed on my heart more than anything else. I need those around me wired in other ways – with other strengths and different focuses.

5. Most relationships don’t last forever.
Most friendships in our lives are seasonal. God brings them in for a period of time but, when we step into a new season or level, the friendships around us change. There are the rare few who transcend the seasons, but many will flow in and out of our lives at different times. Know the seasons – and don’t be afraid to let go when the time is right.

6. You can’t do it all. Empower others.
The greatest leaders aren’t those who do all the work. The greatest leaders empower others – and let them stand in the spotlight. Take a step back and let someone else stand in the spotlight.

What lessons have you learned from places of leadership?

Jason is the founder of Ignite Student Ministries, a dynamic ministry igniting youth, young adults and university students to passionately pursue Christ and transform society in high schools, work places and universities around the world.

Comments 3
  • Caleb
    Posted on

    Caleb Caleb

    Reply Author

    Great lessons Jason. I think #3 is vital. It’s so easy to get caught up with all the different ways to interact, which are great but don’t replace personal interaction. We try to have people in our home as much as we can for that very reason.


    • Jason Vana
      Posted on

      Jason Vana Jason Vana

      Reply Author

      Thanks, Caleb! #3 is a lesson I try hard to instill within the students in my ministry. Their generation is so dependent upon technology to create relationships that there are times students will be in the same room, but all of them with a phone in front of their faces. I’ve told them they aren’t allowed to do that around me. It communicates that the people you’re with just aren’t important. Not something Jesus would do.


  • TCAvey
    Posted on

    TCAvey TCAvey

    Reply Author

    Awesome points! I’m with Caleb, I think #3 is essential.

    So many don’t know how to connect with others. I was talking with my mom this weekend about how kids can’t seem to go anywhere without a cell phone. They don’t even look each other in the face, instead their heads are down and they are typing.

    People need more one on one connection.