The Start of Campus
Energy Visibility Evangelism Recruiting labourers Returning students Your First Meeting(s)
Energy: This is the most important time of the year!! The state of the ministry will be determined by these first few weeks.
The “4 C’s” of the year – contact, consolidate, capitalise, continue – correspond roughly to each of the uni terms. This is the time you will make the majority of your contacts. If you miss it, you will miss the boat for the year.
You shouldn’t have any study to worry about, and it would be best to clear your life of other unnecessary items at this time (ministry and personal), if possible. Need to make sure that students have the right expectations: this is not a "business as usual" time. It will also only last for a limited time.
Remind students who are with you (and yourself) constantly of why they are pushing themselves so hard (cast the vision regularly, keep having Quiet Times and drawing on God’s power, being filled with the Spirit).
Meet regularly for prayer with other students – eg every day that you are working in O-week, have at least weekly Prayer Meetings early on in lectures.
Visibility Being visible on the campus says, 'What we are involved in is significant." The goal of visibility is that everyone on campus knows that you exist.
The goal of your initial visibility is that you would find those students in whom God is working, whether Christians or not.
Be highly attractive (relevant, good quality, friendly and welcoming) but also be up-front about where you are going. Some things include:
- A stall in O-week or the first few weeks of lectures – have on it a banner, brochures, KGP’s, flyers for your first camp, surveys, freebies, sign-up sheet,
- Surveys - around the campus, when students line up to get their photos taken, anywhere they congregate
- Speaking briefly in first-year lectures
- Helping with campus tours, those who look lost
Evangelism: This is the most important time to be doing evangelism. It is vitally important for reaching first years. But it is also a time of 'new beginnings' for non-first years, a time of questioning and re-evaluating.
Perhaps set evangelistic goal(s) and a time to complete them. Get returning students (and new ones) involved.
Contacts will be "cold" after two weeks and "dead" after three weeks. So follow them up immediately!
Some evangelistic strategies:
- Surveys leading to interest in the gospel (give freebie eg pen, chupa-chup), share KGP, ask to do CE
- Showbags / evangalism CD
- Better Grades
- books/videos giveaway
- Chocolate quiz
- College strategies eg surveys, social activities, helping students move in
- Study skills seminars
It would be great if we could separate reaching out to non-Christians and Christians - if we could do all the evangelism for three weeks and then move on to the Christians, but we can't. We need to do both well at the same time.
Recruiting Labourers: You are not "gathering Christians"!! You are recruiting labourers.
Since we are seeking to reach out to both Christians and non-Christians at the start of the year, we must be very strategic with our time and energy. We need Christians to join us, to provide future momentum and be labourers with us (and friends), but we also need to be contacting non-Christians somehow – because they need the gospel, and no one else will be doing it!
My suggestion is that you have something planned weekly that is well run and attractive, but that this weekly group also clearly communicates where you are going. For cell groups, have the times and locations chosen before hand.
Returning Students: Your returning students are a critical part of your strategy for reaching the campus. Do whatever you need to to get them excited about coming back after the long break. Harness their energy early. Make sure that they are all invited to your planning times.
Perhaps share your vision for the campus ie what you are praying for, what you dream that you would like to see God do this year. But ask for theirs as well!
Your First Public Meeting or Group: There are five questions a newcomer will be asking:
Do I like these people? Do these people like me? What is their purpose?
Do I want to get involved? How can I get involved?
Seek to give answers to these questions at your first meeting. I used to do a very different meeting for the first week, but now am inclined to do a good job of a normal meeting so that people get right expectations of what will be happening each week.
It’s vital to have your returning students caring for newcomers. Remind them constantly that this meeting is NOT for them. One good way to address this issue is to meet together beforehand for prayer. Then you can remind them again!
By Peter Brook, Quotes from Eric Swanson's article "The First Two Weeks on Campus"