four angles on college ministry recruitment

I got to sit down with my buddy Adam Reynolds and his new bride, Autumn, last night for dinner. They’re working on planting a new campus-based college ministry at the University of North Texas, an enormous school a little ways north of Dallas / Fort Worth.

Since he’s working on building a campus ministry from scratch, student recruitment is obviously on his mind. So that got me thinking (and got us talking) about some of the “angles” on this important endeavor – especially ones that aren’t extremely prominent.

Here are four angles on college ministry recruitment that aren’t utilized as often as others:

1. Making and maintaining pre-matriculation connections.

How many churches (and their youth pastors) in your state know about your ministry? How many youth pastors will send you a list of their graduating seniors in May? How many community colleges have you recruited at or built bridges with? How many parents have received word about your ministry? How many high school seniors will visit your ministry this semester, either because they’re in town or during a campus visit?

Not all of this can be done easily, but these are interesting “how manys” to ponder.

And this form of recruitment also disciples those involved (pre-collegians, parents, and church leaders) – because otherwise, how often are they thinking about spiritual success in college?

2. Sum-sum-summertime.

New Student Orientation. A trip to visit churches, camps, or other places in your region. Students attending college during the summer (lots of ’em do, you know!). Messages to incoming freshmen. A Facebook group for incoming freshmen.

3. Spring semester, Winter quarter, Spring quarter, or any other mid-year point.

I don’t see why we don’t recruit more often in the “off-season,” beyond the first few weeks of school. There are lots of students who don’t find a ministry that “sticks” by October… why lessen their chances of finding any ministry? Who says we can’t recruit one extra week every couple of months?

This may sound crazy, but one of the benefits of having multiple college ministries on a campus is that we can “pick up each other’s slack.” If a student gets disillusioned with my campus ministry, I hope they find another one – so that means I hope they don’t have to wait an entire semester or school year to receive a hearty welcome!

This is a huge opportunity for newer ministries, too. If you’re different from the other ministries, why not recruit at the time when students are looking for something different from what everybody else is doing?

4. A particular type of student.

This is a potential minefield, but I choose to walk it: Could there be occasions when your ministry (and students themselves) are most helped by recruiting a particular type of student?

In this case, I’m not talking about niche ministries (which always aim for a particular type of student). I’m really wondering if different types of students might be best served (and/or might take part in our group’s mission the best). We might find this to be the case during different seasons of a ministry, in response to various needs, or for other reasons.

Favoritism is wrong. But not all choosing is favoritism. So it’s something I’ve pondered.


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  1. Good thoughts here. We’ve been working on the first item this year, and recruitment during the non-standard times could be cool. As to the fourth idea, I am hesitant to recruit a particular type; Jesus would allow anyone to come to Him, even those he wasn’t targetting. I’m not sure the table at clubs week is the time to be choosy. However, we can and must be specific in those to whom we go. Being able to list specifically the types of students our ministry is committed to loving and spending time with has given us a much more focused purpose, and is making us more effective.

  2. Thanks, Nick! This is helpful – and a good word about recruiting students. I definitely think that’s a worthy debate.

    When I say “recruitment,” I don’t just mean at the welcome-week table – I think groups looking for specific types of students (future leaders, men, “entrepreneurial” students for a ministry start-up, etc.) would probably do that through ads, word-of-mouth, or other mid-campus efforts.

    But most of all, I just wanted to broach the topic – I do think it’s certainly a debatable point, and I’m not sure where exactly I would fall on it in practice.

  3. Pingback: going for broke #7: the rooftop call when the weather’s frightful « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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