You could spend every waking hour on your campus and not get done everything you need to get done. Am I right? One friend on a huge campus said to me one time, “I haven’t finished a to-do list since I started this job!” We all have limited time. Between family, work, ministry, friends, social life, and sleep we have planned out 30 hours worth of day before we even get out of bed! With limited time on campus how do we get the best bang for our buck? Who do we engage?
We’ve been planting satellite campus ministries on surrounding campuses the past three years and we’ve had to look at what engagement is when you’ve got only a day or two on a campus a week. How do you engage a campus with limited time? It’s caused us to develop a tool that has helped me think through how I’m engaging my campuses. Whether I’m on a campus one day a week or everyday there are four quadrants I need to engage consistently and intentionally.
The majority of your campus is not involved in a life-giving faith community. It doesn’t matter what campus you’re on, you have lost students who need to hear the gospel and see a disciple living out a disciple’s calling on his/her campus. What are you doing to engage the lost on your campus? What’s your plan each week to engage the lost on your campus?
If you have students who are believers in your ministry how are you developing them to lead your ministry and come alongside you? What are you doing to give them some ownership? Our tendency sometimes is to celebrate they keep showing up, but never development them into co-laborers in the harvest. If you only gather students it will always be just you engaging campus. If you develop leaders you will never be alone in engaging campus.
Chances are, you got into college ministry because one of the two groups we just mentioned. You have a heart for the lost or you are passionate about making disciples. But the next two quadrants transition from individuals to systems. It’s one thing to reach and develop individual students. It’s another thing to mobilize a COMMUNITY to engage your campus and to seek out CAMPUS gatekeepers. This is where you begin to see culture change!
For each of us, our community is unique. For our church-based ministries your community can be the rest of your church and the believing adults around you. For our campus-based ministries you community might be your financial and prayer partners, your local churches and alumni. Who are you mobilizing to join you on campus? Who is the older couple that can host and love college students? Who is the police officer in your church that has a heart for criminal justice majors? Your church members or partnering churches are some of the best resources you can have in reaching campus! In your time on campus who can you bring alongside of you to show them the need and the potential of college students? Next time you think through an event on campus who is a new church or a new family in your church you can introduce to students? Do you have a cowboy church nearby? Do you have internationals? You should set up an international student trip to visit to the roping arena. It will blow your mind!
Last year we started a campus ministry on a small, rural community college and began to invite local churches onto campus once a week to prepare a meal for the students. Talk about the clash of cultures! Little old ladies armed with their casseroles meet socially, emotionally awkward community college kids! It was a match made in heaven! The churches have begun to awaken to a neglected demographic amongst them. For the students, it’s the first time for many of them they’ve had an adult tell them they believe in them. The little old ladies can get away with so much more than any of our staff can. It multiplied workers on a campus. How can you leverage your community on your campus? Has your pastor walked on your campus lately?
Many ministries are merely tolerated by their campuses. How does your campus view your ministry? Do they even know you exist? If we are going to multiply our efforts on campus we’ve got to be engaging the system of campus. Who are the gatekeepers on campus for you? Do the people in Residential Housing know you? Does the team in Student Life office know you? A local pastor in our community made it a point to make sure all the coaching staff knew him. He actually led one of them to Christ! Guess where all the football players go to church now? The gatekeeper multiplies ministry opportunities! When was the last time you went to Student Life, or Residential Housing, or Freshmen Orientation and asked them what they needed help with? A little investment and a smile can build a friendship that will open up doors for you and bless your campus!
A campus minister starting work in NYC this spring went to his Student Planning Office and asked the question, “What do you want to do but you haven’t been able to because of time, money, workers, etc.?” His ministry is now part of the team that plans student events for the campus! Another campus connected with the Freshmen Orientation team and saw they needed to feed their student volunteers after orientations. So they volunteered to feed them after each orientation. Imagine the rapport it built between that ministry and campus! They became the ministry that loves the Freshmen orientation staff. Engaging the system will open up doors for your to engage and impact more students.
I realize you’ve got no free time and sometimes the thought of having to meet one more person or to set up another meeting with someone can seem exhausting, but what can you do each week you are on campus to engage each of these quadrants? If you are only on campus one day a week or are bivo doing this in your “free time” then how can you do this on a very simple level. Do something that puts you amongst the lost, spend some time with your believing students in intentional discipleship training, tell someone from your community about what God is doing on your campus and ask them to join you, and then swing by the admin office each week and say hi and bring them a coke or a coffee. If you’re full-time with a staff then how can you spend time each week growing your influence in each of these quadrants? It doesn’t have to be extraordinary. Ordinary with intentionality goes so much farther.
Engagement on campus can be daunting but thinking through each quadrant and spending time in each (not necessarily equal amount in each) can multiply your ministry and the gospel impact on campus.