Fifty is easier to tackle than 6,927 and it’s more challenging than ten. It could have been a smaller number, though. It could have been a larger number. In the end, we had to pick a number, and fifty seemed small enough to bring some real focus and large enough to speak to the magnitude of the task.
First, we celebrate and praise the Lord for the expansion of His Kingdom. Then, we add another campus to the list and reorder accordingly. So, for example, if a campus ministry establishes a gospel presence on the number one campus on the list, the campus in the number two spot will move up, making room for the currently unseen number 51 to slide onto the list in the number 50 spot. The Forgotten50 is about more than the fifty. It’s about making the gospel accessible on every single campus in North America!
Considering that the vast majority of them are in the province of Quebec, there are a couple barriers: resources and language. For example, Quebec is .5% evangelical. Don’t miss the decimal there. That percentage means fewer believers to train as missionaries, fewer churches to engage campuses, and fewer resources to leverage within the Quebecois church. Additionally, an American church can’t simply decide to send a planting team to Quebec City and tackle a few campuses because most Americans don’t speak French. If we are going to really see all fifty of these campuses reached with the gospel, there is going to have to be a real effort to train Americans and English-speaking Canadians for cross-cultural ministry. That means learning to speak a new language. It also means we are going to have to invest deeply into training, mobilizing, and supporting indigenous missionaries.
There’s no doubt about it: the Northeastern and Northwestern regions of the United States are among the least reached parts of North America. It was no shock that schools in the Bible Belt didn’t show up on the list. But it turns out that even the least reached places in the US have enough churches in proximity to the campus keep them off the list.
Because most Americans see Canada as a colder version of the US, cultural assumptions are often made about Canada that are based on American norms. But the reality is that lostness permeates Canada unlike anywhere in the United States. There are fewer Christians, and consequently, there are fewer churches. And fewer college and university campuses claim the luxury of campus ministries.
Institutions like the University of Nebraska, Harvard University, and Arizona State University simply don’t show up on this list. Most of them didn’t even make it through the first filter of “lacking an on-campus gospel presence.” Why is that? Parachurch ministries, denominational campus ministries, and churches alike all gravitate toward campuses like these. If a Christian group is concerned with college students, these are the campuses those groups target. Many of them have dozens of ministries trying to reach them. But none of those campuses made it to this list.
When people think about collegiate ministry, most of them have a picture in their minds of students aged eighteen to twenty-two years old living in residence halls, pledging Greek organizations, going to football games, and earning Bachelor degrees at the end of a four-year stint. And that certainly does describe a segment of college students. But not all. Countless students are now spending their first collegiate years at community colleges or forgoing the four-year experience altogether in favor of a technological or vocational track. While students have migrated, for the most part, collegiate ministry has not.