I’ll do my best to post some thoughts on College Ministry ideas about “first-of-year recruitment” by Monday. My hope is that some of it will be helpful, for those who have yet to encounter their “church fair(s)” or “organizational fair(s)” at their campus(es) yet. But I wanted to wait ’til I saw all the recruitment here that I’m gonna see for a while, and the last of it should be Sunday morning.

(I’m presently at the church fair at Judson College – it’s been an impressive weekend at this school so far. I’ll report on all the Campus Orientations – five schools in all – next week.)

In the meantime, here are some updates & other tidbits…

  1. Just like a college student, I haven’t really been aware of how bad the weather has been here, until I finally heard from parents, friends, the radio, etc. [In case you’ve forgotten, the Midwest saw tornadoes, floods, etc., that week.] It reminded me of how amazingly insulated students can be – especially in busy times like orientations – with no real knowledge of what’s going on “in the real world.” Even when the “real world” is just off-campus.
  2. The storms have definitely affected campuses, leading to various cancellations, some rough flooding, power outages, and so on. I was at Wheaton for the Tornado Warning, so they held us downstairs in the Beamer Center for a while. One of the guys’ dorms followed the Tornado Warning with a fire alarm, which meant they went from huddling in the basement to standing in the rain. And while we were “orientating” later that night, the football team was sandbagging the Beamer, which apparently did flood last year. Judson College (soon to be University) has had a pond and a river, which are now rather “merged,” and I think the water flooded some basement classrooms in a building. (The girl helping lead worship at last night’s President’s Chapel here praised God for His glory shown in floods, which was pretty cool.) There’s a picture of that building below.
  3. My ankles are crazy-sore, I guess from my travels from Moody through Downtown Chicago a couple of days ago. I like being sore (it makes me feel like a stud), but the ankle thing is ridiculous!
  4. This pace would kill me if it kept up like this. I’m a little exhausted. But this week (I can’t believe I’ve only been in Chicago for a week) is presumably the most “scheduled” week I’ll have all year – with orientation events all over the place, from early to late. All that winds down this weekend, with the last events (of this round) on Tuesday.
  5. Being a freshman is always an interesting experience. I’ll fill you in on my attempts to “fit in” sometime soon. I’m not a spy, per se – I gladly tell people who I am when asked – but there’s no reason to stick out during these Orientations, either
  6. Go Rangers.



  1. Jessica Keller

    So I cannot imagine how overwhelmed you are feeling….I’m overwhelmed with the new freshman at one university….You are a trooper….And now my question for the sage of collegiate ministry- “Is it better to be pressure students to join “your” church or to take the “laid back, as long as you plug in somewhere” approach? I can see interesting arguments to both sides and I know that the approach would definitely differ depending on what type of position you held……but if you put yourself in a freshman’s shoes (hopefully glass-proof shoes) which approach would you prefer?

  2. Good question! You’re right – there are good arguments for either side. I’ll have to think about this one (all year, really) and ask the ministers I encounter. But, I will say my approach in the past has generally been based on the understanding that first, I’m a minister to these students – from the first moment I meet them.

    So I care deeply that they get plugged into A church, so I’m gonna hit that a lot. But with no less vigor, I care that they get plugged into a GOOD church – the church(es) in which they’ll be most/best impacted during their college career.

    Presumably, I’m going to “believe in” what we’re doing at a place I’m serving. So I will push our church as best I can, not because I care about “our program” but because I care about the students.

    At the same time, I’m very much urging students to be plugged into A church – and if that WILL happen elsewhere and WON’T happen here, then I’d rather you go there! This may be a bit of a simplistic statement, but at least in general I would far rather 10 students all plug into “other” (healthy & impactful) churches than 5 students plug into “my” church. (Or even 9 students, really. Or 9 1/2 students. But you get the idea…)

    But when it comes to recruiting to “my” church, I only see two options – either we all “advertise” super-meekly: identical forms, with church distinctives listed in parallel fashion, and no big effort made to “recruit.” Or, we all go gung-ho, bring our A-games, and each recruit our hearts out. Though it may seem rather capitalistic, I vote for the second: because I think some churches will do that anyway, and because I think the more we ALL recruit students, the greater number of students will eventually find themselves plugged in to church.

    It’s a little like car sales, I suppose: By each church pushing their own programs as hard as they can AND pushing the need for church in general, too, the entire “industry” grows. At the same time, we run the risk of students – with all their “exciting” options – continuing to look and look and look. So even as we emphasize our church, our number one job (in this area) is to help them make that decision – as quickly as they wisely can. The big test is if we’d be willing to sit across the table from a student and say, “With all we’ve talked about, I really believe you should plug in to ___________ Church.”

    Sorry to go back and forth, but I do think it’s a both-and proposition.

    There’s more on this subject in the new post, too!

  3. Jessica Keller

    Good answer…..I’m also curious to find out what the students think so you’ll have to ask some. I mean…does it make them feel more if you pressure for your church because it seems like you really care about them…or is it irritating and stifling to have one church forced upon them…..

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