Biblical, but Relevant...

Ethnic minorities comprise one-third of the population in the United States. How does this impact Navigators who live and labor among the lost?

Our college campuses are a reflection of what’s going on in our society as a whole. Navigator Mike Koslarek , who works with The Navigators Collegiate Ministry, says, “If we’re serious about reaching everyone with the message of the Kingdom, we need to reach out to groups of people that are represented there: African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and others.”

Diversity in ministry, however, goes far beyond color. Different cultures have different strengths and weaknesses, and unique ways of relating. And while certain aspects of Navigator ministry are universal—a commitment to the Word of God and to intensive life-on-life ministry—the way those things are expressed can vary a lot.

“The intentionality of life-on-life investment is necessary,” says Navigator Marvin Campbell, former campus director at Bowie State University, “because a sermon and a song is not impacting the hearts of this generation.”

This life-on-life emphasis, for which Navigators are known, however, has largely taken place in environments that are predominantly white. “You don’t see too many Navigator ministries on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) campuses,” says Navigator Robert Daniels at Bowie State (an HBCU campus).

“Having genuine diversity in a ministry doesn’t just happen,” says Kozlarek. “It’s not enough to say that minorities are welcome. They need to feel like the ministry is their own. We have to let them craft the culture of the ministry.”

That’s critical because today’s students are seeking community. They gravitate toward places that feel comfortable to them. Laura Welch, also on staff with The Navigators at Bowie State, says, “I love the sense of community we see on campus. It’s easy to get to know people and have an on-going dialogue about Jesus.”

It’s not always easy for minority believers to get this kind of intensive, life-on-life training. When Brandon Bornes, who is African-American, was approached about working with The Navigators, he attended a Navigator EDGE Corps preview that equips college graduates to become apprentice collegiate staff members. Brandon says, “I thought the program was great, but there were no black people there, so I wasn’t going to join.” Fortunately, Brandon did join The Navigators—and God has richly blessed his ministry. Still, his concern was valid and is one The Navigators is taking seriously. As Mike Kozlarek puts it, “We have to be intentional about making sure that our ministry remains biblically based, but culturally relevant.”

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