As I got ready to board the jet to return from the Urbana conference, I encountered a fellow Urbana attendee in the line. It turns out he had flown from Southern California mostly to visit the exhibits at the conference; he has an interest in pursuing foreign missions, and Urbana’s exhibit hall was chock-full of missions agencies. Not an unwise way for him to work through his decisions on the matter!
But now that his conference experience was over, this guy noted something fascinating about his time amongst the missions agencies. His verdict? He said he wished the missions agencies tried to recruit him more.
With SO many organizations to choose from, he really hoped for help in the decision-making process – including hearing arguments for each group. The way he put it was something like, “I wish they had helped me find out if they’re what I’m looking for.”
This guy was a missions-motivated individual – enough so that he had paid for a plane ticket just to visit missions agencies gathered halfway across the country! Even more than the average Urbana-attending student, this dude is likely to do what it takes to help deliver the gospel to a foreign country. A prime candidate for any of those agencies. But he wasn’t willing just to “stumble upon” some group that would take him through some process to get to some place. He (wisely) wanted to do the important work of discernment in such an important, life-altering matter. And, in his opinion, they didn’t step up to the plate.
Collegiate missions mobilizers do engage in one type of campus ministry, but so do the rest of us. Do we provide the information students need, to help them discover “if we’re what they’re looking for?” If I walked up to your recruitment booth or checked out your ministry’s web page, could I easily get to know your ministry? And would my view be accurate, helpful, and (ultimately) complete?
Second, does our recruitment process encourage students to make a conscientious decision about the ministry they join? Are we helping students become more like my airport friend – in all areas of their lives?
In a way, many college ministries might not be recruiting enough – not providing lots of info, not making the argument for why their ministry might be a great fit, not helping students see that this is a real decision, not giving them wisdom for making that decision well, not bringing our A-game (while begging God to maintain in us a pervasive Kingdom-mindedness).
While there can be occasions when a college ministry should avoid recruitment… in general… Please recruit!
For more on campus ministry recruitment as discipleship, the first of three posts can be found here.