Numbers 13 Decoding

Last week’s tip was on Prayer Mapping. That idea probably is more staff focused as you think about pioneering efforts on a campus. But maybe you have some students that are getting serious about reaching their campus or they would like to help launch another campus with you. Here is an idea from a former staff, Dave Peterson. He used a Numbers 13 exercise that helped his students decode their campus. This might be helpful as you think about growing critical mass or casting vision for transitioning new leadership.

Numbers 13 Decoding

It is really pretty easy to do. Last week I met with a team of leaders who had just transitioned in because the key leader from the fall is spending the semester abroad.

I had the four students work together to make a map of the campus. I had them highlight the dorms and write in how many students were in each dorm. If a dorm had freshman concentrations I had them write that information. I then had them identify how many commuters came to the school and write that information where the commuters would park. The next thing I had them do on the map was have them do some basic decoding by identifying the main pathways and nodes that exist on the campus.

When they had completed this I had them open to numbers 13. We read the passage and I asked them

  • What was happening in the passage?
  • What was the land like that the spies explored?
  • What was the report that the spies gave?
  • Did all the spies agree?
  • What was the difference between Joshua and Caleb and the other spies? (eyes of faith)
  • What do you think God wanted the people of Israel to do?

As you think of your campus,

  • What is it like?
  • What are the giants that you face on campus?
  • What do you think God wants to do on our campus?
  • What do you need to do to see God’s plan for your campus become a reality.

At this point I had them calculate the percentage of believers that were involved in their group and other Christian groups on campus. I shared about how the Gallup polls often say that 50% claim to be Christians and how on some schools during the great awakenings 50% or more were involved in Bible study. We talked about how many would be involved if only 10% of the students on their campus was involved and the difference that it would make.

To give them a sense of the possibilities I shared how there are studentled ministries of 200 plus on different schools.

We talked about what it could look like and then we prayed together conversationally about the vision that God had laid on their heart.

I suggested that it could actually be a neat exercise to do this at one of their weekly gatherings.


I remember when I was a student at Penn State, a friend, Wayne Okamoto, and I would often prayer walk around East Halls. Often we would pray that as the lights in those dorm rooms lit the dark quad, that many would come to Christ and be light in the dark world. God uses prayer walks and Dave’s Numbers 13 experience to help build vision for what God will do and stretch student’s faith in how He can use them.


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