Download this book: Reaching the Campus Tribes

Notorious instigator Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal this Book” (1971) ingeniously captured the dissident spirit of the Yippie counter-culture. It was, in contemporary parlance, very relevant. In the new millennium, to not write a book is now the most relevant way to spread ideas, and author Benson Hines’ e-book “Reaching the campus tribes: an opening inquiry” is one forward-thinking example aimed at the Christian ministry subculture. So, stop reading this blog book-review and go download the genuine article (e-book) for free at


OK, done? Notice the fine photography, interesting layout, and relative brevity of the book (the full 70 megabyte version looks best)? I learned nearly as much from the photo captions as I did from the text. The medium is the message, right?[1] Well, this book has several messages.


  • Christian ministry to college students needs attention

        …egregiously neglected in the recent history of the protestant church

        …understaffed, underfunded, and poorly thought out

        …critically important to the core mission of the church


  • Reaching college students is missions (hence “tribes”)

        …a cross-cultural experience for non-college student ministers

        …requires missions-like strategies, including contextualization


So, the book is an essay, arguing two points. First, it implores churches and ministers to prioritize ministry to college students. Second, it draws an analogy between overseas missions and ministry to colleges and universities. Furthermore, the book’s tagline is “an opening inquiry” so you should not expect it to provide many answers. Rather, it is only the beginning of the dialogue (also very relevant in contemporary ministry lingo). Hines writes: “this short book is more proclamation than primer, more megaphone than microscope…(p 8).” Hines does not spell out a clear strategy for how to successfully launch or invigorate a campus ministry. Finally, the book is born out of a pilgrimage of sorts. Benson traveled for a year visiting 181 campuses and talking to about 300 campus ministries. As such, it is very autobiographical, in the sense that it emphasizes the first person voice, and also the impressions and views of the author.


In the spirit of “Reaching the campus tribes” I will likewise unashamedly offer my opinions on this topic during this review. I will also accept Benson Hines’ invitation to the “open inquiry,” and will ask a lot of questions. All this will have to wait for part two of this book review. For now, go download this book if you haven’t already. Read it, and come back prepared to hear both praise and criticism in part two of the review. As always, feel free to comment, and add your voice to the inquiry.

[1] Marshall McLuhan

4 thoughts on “Download this book: Reaching the Campus Tribes”

  1. Thank you, Joel, for sharing this e-book link and review. I certainly am grateful that there existed a campus ministry where I could grow as a believer, and I was invited to it when I needed God desperately (although it took me a year to fully appreciate this ministry–and the friendships–there at my disposal).

    Lately, I have been broadening my interest in and burden for cross-cultural campus ministry, and I am glad that it is a topic in this book. In fact, your blog title caught my attention because I’m thinking about blogging on what has been developing in my mind through these months in terms of the oft-overlooked mission fields in our own neighborhoods–and where my role may be long-term in regards to pursuing this field as well as encouraging current college students to consider starting their own cross-cultural ministries.

    I’m looking forward to reading this e-book and hope to gain some rich insights from it. Thanks again for sharing this resource.

  2. Jackie, I think Joel/this book are saying that campus ministry is cross-cultural by nature for older folk, to whom the college scene is a different culture.

    In the traditional (and biblical–see Acts 1:8) understanding of missions, the campus scene isn’t a different culture. It’s a subculture. American college students speak the same language, share American values like individualism and materialism, and have the same social norms as non-college students. It is a subculture, like the ghetto. And for those who were once in college, the burning couches, scantily clad girls, and Natty Light consumption isn’t too foreign after all.

    But this sounds like an interesting read, and I agree college ministry is crucial. I think if I didn’t find CBS my freshman year (and Neil!) I’d probably be a lonely, depressed, insignificant grad student with no relationships right now. I hope this book and our fellowship have a great impact in college ministry.

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