What a great time of the year! So much to do. So much promise of what God might do in our ministries. So many people to talk with. So many options. So…where do I begin?
Let’s be practical as we get our ministries up and running. Our time is limited. The first week a freshman student is on campus is probably as important as all the rest of the first semester combined. This first week is when students determine who their friends will be and what they will value in college.
Who are your key student leaders in each of your movements? Coach them through each of these first four areas. As they see God use them right out of the blocks, it will build their confidence for the rest of the year.
1. Articulate your vision of what God will do this year.
- Have each student in a leadership position read Transformational Community. This is what we are trusting God to do within every community on every campus.
- Here is a great article on Planning the Campus Year.
- Here is the very practical Nine Principles for the First Six Weeks.
2. Connecting with key players.
- Call each one on your student leadership team to see how their summer went. Inform them of the first meeting and what their individual responsibility is, and answer any questions they may have.
- Give your faculty advisor a call to inform him or her of the first events of the semester and to give them specific prayer requests.
- Check to make sure your meeting room is scheduled, any tables you would use for giveaways or surveys are reserved, and ads placed in the newspaper are ready to go. You want to make sure the details are covered.
3. Leadership team kickoff before freshmen arrive.
- Share your vision for the year.
- Lead a devotion from, say Nehemiah 1, about the start of a great undertaking. Nehemiah is a great example of leading in both prayer and action.
- Inform them of the first few events and make sure that each responsibility is covered.
- Take extra time to pray for God to move, for new students to connect, and for the impact you will make this year.
- Encourage everyone to be familiar with the Campus Ministry Year.
4. Planning your first outreach.
- If you plan some kind of info table or do a giveaway, decide when to assemble and the earliest time for distribution.
- If you will have an open house, a “cower” or pizza party, etc., make sure the right “people” people are greeting visitors to help them feel welcome. Have the opening talk be brief, visionary, and welcoming.
- If you use a survey to find interested students, schedule the table or dining hall to take the surveys. Three easy to use surveys with transitions and nationwide tabulating tools can be found at QuEST Resources.
- Start right away with posters.
Let’s take a mental pause here before proceeding.
- If you are outside the US, you may have your own unique way of beginning your campus year.
- If you have leaders on other campuses, why not forward these first four items to them, and schedule a time to talk through some of the details?
It is a huge confidence booster whenever anyone takes on ownership and sees God use them. And it frees you up to prayer walk or do an info table on a campus that doesn’t have student leadership already in place.
And now the final three…
5. Make sure your info is current on the infobase.
(For staff and interns in the US.)
First, edit your profile so that the information is accurate. You are the only one who can do this and it only takes a minute. This is essential for anyone trying to reach you with a contact for a campus.
Then, check to see if your name is attached to the campuses you’re on and want to reach. Our ministry locators are in lots of visible places. Parents and friends do want their Christian students to get connected. If you are working on a campus and the ministry locator does not list a ministry there, the default is “Would you like to help us start a ministry?” Far fewer will contact us when they read those words than when they read about you ministering there.
6. Direct and delegate rather than just do.
I started driving tractor at 4 1/2 and a truck at 9. By now I think I am fairly good at driving. When it came time to teach my sons to drive, no matter how much modeling and teaching I did, I finally had to get out of the driver seat and give them the wheel. They made some mistakes at first. And I had some white-knuckle moments. But it was necessary.
We are developing leaders. They won’t/can’t lead if we continue to do so. A good starting place is Eric Swanson’s “The Art of Delegation“.
7. Decide where and when to launch.
If it’s in your calendar, it gets done. As a team, decide which campuses or communities you want to launch in and when. Three easy things to do.
The ideal time for pioneering is during the first month of the semester. Students are the most open and available during this time. If you feel like you are taking time away from existing ministries, prepare your leaders the week before by saying that you will call them to talk through their responsibilities and answer any questions at that time. Begin to pray that God will use your time of pioneering on new campuses to help the students on your launched campus to grow as leaders.
I tried to focus in these final three on developing your leadership. Leaders think strategically and with the big picture in mind. Together let us pray that God opens up the doors of effective ministry on more and more campuses and within more communities, so that more and more students can hear the Good News of Jesus Christ.