more ideas for discpling WHILE recruiting

Today, more thoughts on treating college ministry recruitment as disciplemaking!

(Read Sunday’s post for my argument that recruitment is discipleship and yesterday’s post for the first thoughts on doing that well.)

Help them make a good decision

Another way to disciple in the midst of recruiting is to help students understand the decision-making process in front of them. This can include:

  1. Offering reasons they should consider our particular ministry
  2. Offering factors they should use in making their involvement decisions
  3. Pointing them to other ministries that might be a fit (and helping them see why)

I’m a big believer in all three of these. First, I do believe we should present to students – in charitable and wise ways – what our ministry offers and why it could be the best ministry for them. While my reasoning could fill its own post(s), I think it’s better for every college minister to present the distinctives of their ministry, rather than to talk (dishonestly) as though they feel every ministry is equal.

In fact, by doing that, we not only make students’ decision clearer, but we even highlight things they might want to think about when choosing. The latter fits #2: Offering factors they should use for this decision. With all our emphasis on recruiting, I think we’ve missed the chance to disciple students in the deeper (and lifelong) issue: how they decide something like this! Why don’t we take our opportunity to share some wisdom about how to make this decision?

Finally, if we’re really honest about helping students make the best possible choices, we will help them find the very best ministry for them. We know that any particular student may need to plug in elsewhere. So we have to be open to helping them discern that – and even helping facilitate the connection to the other ministry.

Be willing to go “off-topic”

While the task of recruitment is important (it is, after all, discipleship!), there are going to be student-encounters that require something different. We never know where a student’s coming from when they approach our Orientation booth or drop by our Welcome Week party.

Maybe they just need to know where our weekly meeting is or what our ministry does well. But maybe they need something else – encouragement or exhortation or the Gospel. If we’re open to it, God will reveal – when needed – what He’s up to in students’ lives. But we may need to go “off-task” to partner with Him; if a student needs strategies for overcoming homesickness, we don’t want her just to walk away knowing the large group meeting is in Baker Hall on Tuesday nights.

Impact beyond the moment

As I noted yesterday, we probably can’t cram tons of discipleship into our short chats with new students. But though the actual recruitment window is small, there are at least two ways to extend it:

  • Provide takeaways that continue discipling.
  • Follow up – and when you do, disciple.

For freshmen, the beginning of school might be a really scary time. So at no other time will they be more open to “learning the ropes.” You have the opportunity to provide takeaways that will help them make spiritual sense of their new life – whether those takeaways are in written, audio, or video forms.

And if you get info from potential “recruits,” don’t just use it to continue the rah-rah-rah side of recruitment. Also use it to continue shepherding as much as you can. Again, there may be no time they’ll be more open to it.

Love the student

This, of course, goes without saying. But as we recruit students to our ministries, love-for-the-student certainly can cover a multitude of the mistakes we might make. We may be a little too competitive at times, a little under-prepared, a little scattered, a little worn-out. But if we really love this individual student standing in front of us right now, most of us will pretty naturally disciple him or her. And because we love them, we’ll have no problem helping them find what they need – whether it’s in our ministry or not.

We’re college ministers because we love impacting students. From the very first moment we see them, we have opportunities to do that – you could call it “loving at first sight.” How phenomenal that some of the hundreds or thousands of students counted in our “fruit for the Kingdom” will be students we interacted with only once.

Once – even when we’re recruiting – is certainly long enough to impact.

Written mostly in Motel 6, Little Rock, AR; posted from Warsaw, TX

Road Trip #12 (10 days total)
Yesterday’s T-shirt: the Wolfpack tribe of North Carolina State
Total mileage: 1960
Total states: 8
New campus yesterday: Arkansas Tech University, Russellville, AR
Look for a wrap-up post tomorrow!

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