It is Labor Day in the US, the traditional start of the campus year. However, many campuses have already started. This is the time of the semester when incoming freshmen are deciding who their friends will be, what their real values are and where they get involved. That is why I like what John and Melissa Mitchell, Southern New England Campus Ministry sent out to their student leaders last year.
We hope that by this point of the semester, new students have come to your Bible study and/or weekly meeting. We trust that you understand the importance of reaching the Freshmen class and helping these new guests get involved in your ministry.
However, we don’t want new students just to show up once or twice, and just fade away as the semester progresses. It’s important to help them KEEP coming. How will that happen you ask? The key is relationships. Lots of people will check out something once or twice, maybe even 3 times, but after awhile if they aren’t connecting with others, getting to know people and feeling like they are wanted, then they won’t keep coming back.
Here are some ideas that should help:
- Invite new students to meet you for a meal (guys invite guys, girls – girls, you don’t want this to look like a date!). You don’t have to go alone, you can invite other students to join you. Don’t make it too many people, or someone could be overlooked in the conversation. You have to eat anyway and this is a great opportunity to really get to know someone. Get other returning students involved in this as well.
- Share the gospel with new students! Don’t assume they are Christians just because they come to your study, or they come from a church background. Go through the Knowing God Personally booklet with them. You can introduce it this way: “Just so you know what we believe….” This familiarizes them with who we are as a ministry, and to one of our tools. Plus if they aren’t a Christian, you get to share Christ with them!
- Ask new students to help out with an event or activity, hanging posters, bringing snacks or helping to plan a social activity. This helps them to start thinking of the ministry as “ours” rather than “yours” and they get to know others as they work along side them. (Don’t ask someone that is new to lead a Bible study or some other spiritually significant responsibility without feeling confident that they are walking with God.)
- Personal invitation – invite students personally to come to a get together, help out with an outreach or to join a committee or small group. When you ask everyone in the setting of a meeting, usually, “everyone’s ask is no one’s ask”.
We hope these tips help. Building relationships is really foundational for a fruitful ministry – just like this example from the book of Acts.
“They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46b-47
Wouldn’t it be great to have our ministries described like this? Have fun connecting with one another!
More than just inviting freshmen to our meetings, we want to be intentional about building relationships and look for ways to connect them to others and what we are doing. Here are a couple of resources on GodSquad offer more ideas
Six Weeks that Count
You can also read more about what John and Melissa are communicating to their student leaders on their blog.