It’s the beginning of a new year and we are all seeking to meet and connect with as many new students as possible. But in our busyness with freshman week activities and following up as many as we can, we can easily overlook the real influencers on campus.
Steve Shadrach, Executive Director, Center for Mission Mobilization, in his ebook, Heart of the Campus: Ministry principles and strategies for focusing on student leaders, suggests that reaching leaders will actually help us have a greater impact on the campus, something we all long for. The Kindle version is available for free with a subscription to Campus Ministry Today.
Shadrach says the campus has three types of students, the influencers (about 10%), the interested (about 60%), and the isolated (about 30%). I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the each context on campus has those same three groups.
His point is that the campus ministry efforts of most organizations are directed toward the interested, while we often ignore the “heart of the campus”, the influencers. He offers 10 movement principles (pp. 13-20) in this brief booklet. I’ve listed each along with a brief excerpt for explanation.
- How we view ourselves dramatically impacts how others view us. “For good or for bad, the way each spy viewed himself [in Numbers 13] determined how the giants viewed them.”
- The mature can relate to a broader spectrum of people. “It takes a lot of maturity and confidence to believe you can relate to…any person regardless of [their spiritual, social, economic status.]”
- Jesus said to focus on shepherds more than the sheep. “The cry of [Jesus’] heart was for more laborers (Matthew 9:36-39). Not more followers, but more leaders; people who could be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. It is not exclusivism or favoritism as to why we select and develop these types of believers.”
- Select individuals who can “teach others also”. “In his final letter, Paul instructed his disciple, Timothy,…to significantly narrow down the prospective pool of laborers because they not only had to be faithful, but ‘able to teach others also’ (2 Timothy 2:2).”
- The heart of the campus is the most unreached segment. “Many collegiate ministries seem to be targeting the same students and appear to be nibbling around the edges of a campus, focusing on interested or isolated students because it is less threatening, and they are more available.”
- If you win the chief, you’ll win the tribe. “Isn’t it obvious that all groups have leaders (whether they are designated or not) and that these individuals have greater influence than the average person in that group?” Many when reached want help reaching their group.
- The core of the movement must be made up of influencers. “…at least five to ten students have to be influencers…These “relational networkers” are the magnets who attract other influencers, as well as the interested and isolated students, to the ministry. These key leaders become the glue that causes everyone to stick together and stay a part of the ministry. If the core is primarily interested or isolated students, then a movement will never get off the ground. They will struggle with: 1) relating to each other, 2) being able to initiate personal ministry, 3) attracting others to the movement, and 4) influencing the campus.
- Focus on influencers and you’ll indirectly affect more of the interested and isolated. “Jesus loves all students the same and so should we, but how can we impact the greatest number of students?… consider focusing on the influencers; they will draw the others in.”
- Vision and boldness is built when you go straight to the heart. “…we are here to win the whole campus to Jesus Christ, and we will not stop until there are key laborers raised up and working within every segment of the campus.”
- If you want influential staff, you must focus on influential students. “If your ministry is full of bold visionaries who are not afraid to go straight to the heart of the campus, you will draw stronger leaders to your team. Arliss Dickerson, veteran BCM campus minister…shares, ‘You attract what you are.’”
Shadrach offers perspective on selecting students from Mike Hearon, Director of Campus Outreach in Augusta, Georgia. “He wants to reach as many students as possible on campus and believes that focusing on the influencers is the key: ‘We must see our apostolic calling and realize more people can be reached by investing in those who will be able to teach others also.’”
Regardless of your ministry emphasis, I think you will find Heart of the Campus thought provoking and immediately practical. It is a quick read; one you can finish in an hour. But as you think about reaching your campuses this year, why not consider the influencers on your campus?
Related to this topic.
- Talking to those who intimidate.
- And a tip about Steve Shadrach’s book, The Fuel and The Flame, Keys to Establishing New Believers.