This is an interesting insight from Russell Moore about campus ministries and the necessity of connecting with a local church. I would probably take a less hard line approach than he does and value a less “formal” expression of church, as well as argue that a church needs to adapt to its cultural context to effectively minister. In spite of my subtle disgreements, I do believe the article does a good job of capturing the importance of the local church within the climate of many campus ministries.
The reason many college students identify primarily with a campus ministry rather than with a church is not because of any flaw in most campus ministry organizations. It is because, too often, we evangelical Christians have a deficient view of the church. We assume that it is any gathering of people who believe in Jesus and who do churchly things. Many Christians assume the church exists simply to help us learn more about Christ and pool our resources for missions. If that’s the case, a campus ministry can do all those things, and more. But the Scriptures tell us the church is much more than that.