Have you ever had a conversation with a student on a campus that you seemed to know better than the student did? You can, you know. There is nothing that communicates your heart for a campus to a prospective student leader than to have done some decoding of that campus beforehand and to share what you are praying God to do on that campus. Decoding is not about sounding like an insider or making you look good. It is about building trust and a connection with students who can potentially reach their campus for Christ. Kerri Louck, Catalytic Regional Director in the Greater NorthWest, served as Forerunner for the NorthEast region before becoming RD. She is very good at decoding a campus without even stepping foot on it. I am re-sending this tip on her decoding process.
Decoding Campuses Virtually
Reality set in that I had to embrace that technology was my friend and not my enemy. I prefer to not be on the computer nor do I check my email unless I’m working. However, the fact that my scope was huge, my campuses were far away, and I desired and needed to be more involved in my immediate community led me to experiment and see how much information I could find out about campuses through the internet.
Here is what I found that may be helpful to you too!
- Pray for the campuses in our scope. Know that the Lord is preparing people’s hearts on campus and in the area.
- Decoding is an interactive process of seeing where the Lord is working and coming alongside those He has raised up to lead ministries.
2. Information gathering: What questions do you need to ask yourself to know your scope inside and out…
- First Level: Basics of a campus
- What campuses are in your scope?
- Are there campuses in a general area geographically? (same city, same street, etc)
- How many community colleges/state campuses? How many private? Any affiliated with a particular denomination or people group?
- How many students go there? How many on-campus/off campus/all commuters/how many dorms?
- How many ethnic and international students are there?
- Websites and helpful tools:
- Second Level: Getting to know the campus specifically and where the Lord may be calling us to have a ministry
- What specific groups/activities are on campus? Ethnic groups? International Groups?
- Any group that could be an “in” for Military ministry, Impact, Destino, Epic, Bridges, Greek, athletes?
- What Christian groups are already on campus? Who do you contact to ask ?’s and see who they are targeting on campus… where could CCC’s niche be on campus? Are there opportunities for multiple movements on campus?
- Who is the student activities director? How do I get in touch with them?
- Is there a student handbook on-line? (helps with starting up an organization on campus guidelines)
- websites/tools that are helpful:
- individual campus websites
- www.collegewalk.com (This site lists various ministries. We can go to each of their ministry locators to see where they officially have ministries and find their contact information (I.V.; Navigators, Chi Alpha, etc).
- Tools for Multiple Movements on your campuses:
- Third Level: What resources and volunteers are within a 5 mile radius of the campus?
- What churches are within 5 miles of the church?
- Are there administrators/faculty going there? Are there students going there that could be leaders?
- websites/tools that are helpful:
3. Record/Track the information gathered:
- Set up a spreadsheet with campuses and information you find out so you can refer to it quickly when a student/volunteer wants information (you can even hyperlink to the campus website.
- You may not always be there but the information recorded could help the next person the Lord raises up from having to start from scratch.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? It is worth it!
I have learned that the more I know about a campus and the area it is easier to bond with students more quickly because you are talking about their turf and they start to realize that you care about them and their campus. It also helps me to have information that I can look at right away to help give vision for their campus, and yet talk about specifics right away.
Bottom-line: Decoding through the internet saves time so you can show up on campus, talk to those people who will get you closer to knowing students, and launching a ministry. The process helps me to “….become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9: 22)
I have come to the conclusion that the internet is a tool that helps me be a steward of my time. It helps me to connect with students, churches, and volunteers better on the first meeting,because I know my facts about their turf and I gain credibility with them as someone who wants to serve them.
At this time of the year, when weather can be uncooperative and ministries are starting up again for the second semester travelling to a new campus may be difficult. But here is a way to anticipate how God might work before you even step foot on the campus.Have a great week launching and resourcing new ministries.