A much-appreciated and very timely question from a college minister this weekend:
One thing you feel is the most important thing for a campus-based ministry to do on the first week of school? I want to dodge that “I wish I knew then what I know now” thing.
Here were a few suggestions I sent his way. I imagine one or two of them might resonate with you! Meanwhile, Guy Chmieleski covers a similar question with some other great ideas, so check out his post for more thoughts.
First of all, it all depends on the ministry. Do whatever you personally need to do NEXT and don’t just “run the play” that you think you “should” run.
But here are some first-week methods that could be really, really important at a lot of campuses:
Attack the week: One piece of “best advice” that will apply to many is to attack the week (whatever you happen to have going on) with full gusto – unbalanced, hard-running, little-sleeping, ridiculous gusto that doesn’t end ’til late Friday afternoon.
Assess spiritual changes on campus: Watch for what God shows you He’s up to NOW. Hopefully you have a finger on the pulse of your campus tribe in general – but each new year means tribal changes. So the first week is a great time to be alert for – and even investigate for – any hint of “climate change,” as it were.
Assess spiritual changes in students: Do the same with individual students – especially leaders. It’s possible there are students who God impacted this summer in ways that prepared them for a surprising role this year. Don’t make them wait, if they’re ready to plug in better! Likewise, there are some students who plan(ned) on major involvement but, for whatever reason, need to step back now. Alertness to either possibility now could make for very impactful adjustments.
Tie up any vital loose ends: Wrap up anything that’s absolutely necessary that didn’t get finished this summer. Have you outlined the outcomes the ministry is aiming for? Have you had any tough conversations that are needed to start the year right? Have you updated your supporters? Anything else you really should do? While in some cases these agenda items can be put off for an additional few weeks, some should be completed now… even though it stinks to feel like you’re looking backward.
Get key students moving: Get core students and/or student leaders “leaning into” the front of the semester with you. That means the “gusto” idea should apply to them, too. Help them to play their role as your co-college ministers, particularly in the first couple of weeks.
Start like you want to be: Don’t let this first week be SUCH a radical departure from what you’re doing the rest of the semester that returning students or recruited students get a false vision of who the ministry really is. Obviously, programming may be different. But from vision-casting to recruiting to interactions with campus staff, be realistic and be real.
Enjoy it: [This is one I added.] Don’t forget about the awesomeness of what we get to do. That’s usually not a problem in the first week of school, but just remember – this is the first week of changing the world. Again. You get to do it yearly.
If this is your first week of the school year, too, I hope it’s incredible. Either way, let me know if I can ever be of help. I’m praying for everybody. Celebrate the awesomeness of what you get to do in these days!