Real. Relevant. Radical. Relationships.
There's no formula for ministry success. But there are helpful building blocks (costly stones if you will) that help build environments that help people want to keep coming back.
Real (2 Cor 12.7-10)--College students hate fake. Anything contrived, cheesy, or inauthentic is worse than a paper cut. Too often, campus disciples are afraid to be honest about their real problems and substitute religious sounding euphemisms for their sin. Not that sin should be normalized or God forbid glorified, but real problems need to be discussed openly and when real problems are addressed, then real repentance is that much more powerful. "Struggling with purity" needs to be replaced with whatever is really going on.
Relevant (Heb 4.12)--Most millennials don't believe the Bible isn't relevant and it's the church's fault. Campus Ministry's must deal with real struggles, real problems. Problems that are relevant to college life. Not "religious generalities." If our BTs consists mostly of people struggling with "improving my walk" or "wrestling with putting God first in my Quiet Times" there creates distance and vagueness and strips the word of God of its power. Students need help with dealing with sex, overcoming alcohol and drugs, and why God over academics. People need help with their real life. Make the Bible relevant.
Radical (Romans 12.1-2)-- If you're not different, then you don't make a difference. College students have been bombarded with clichés and they hate them. The great thing is the Bible isn't cliché. It is radically different than anything else going today. But the message and the members aren't always that way. We have to avoid telling the popular easy-to-get-behind message and preach the power of the Bible. And members must be different, in holiness, in discipleship, in love, in everything. Otherwise we just become a social group.
Relationships (John 13.34-35)--"Connection is the bridge through which values flow." I heard this recently in a parenting class and it has deeply impacted me. Relationships within ministries must be real, deep, and Christ-like in loving. There is nothing, NOTHING, like relationships in the body of Jesus. People need to see it and experience it. Especially those who don't like church. They may not like church, but there is something spectacular about the body loving each other.