When I first thought about this post, my immediate guess was that there are twenty individual decisions that go into a college ministry’s weekly large group meeting.
“Twenty?,” I second-guessed myself. That sounded pretty high.
And then I wrote this list. It’s more than twenty.
The classic “Sing ‘n Speak” is perhaps the most recognizable element of college ministry – showing up in some form in not only campus-based college ministries but also in institutional college ministries (i.e., Chapel) and church-based college ministries (though when it takes place on Sunday mornings, the “sing” element isn’t always there).
And yet it’s surprising just how many variations actually occur. Often without realizing it, ministers around the country make various decisions about all sorts of things within their large group meeting.
So here’s the list of decisions I can think of – and each decision listed is based on variations I’ve actually seen or heard about. In other words, I could point to at least two actual choices for every decision I list.
Please don’t read this as a to-do list; your ministry probably shouldn’t “to-do” all of them! Instead, this is meant to point out how many choices we make in even one aspect of our college ministries – whether we realize it or not. Whether our choices are active or passive, purposeful or automatic, we are indeed making them.
So as you read through this list, ask yourself, “Did I make this decision on purpose, or was it automatic, inherited, or otherwise passive?”
And for one reason this matters, see the follow-up post.
Decisions you’ve made about your college ministry’s large group gathering
(…whether you meant to make the decision or not)
Schedule, organization, etc.
- Day of the week?
- Time of night (or day)?
- Length? (I’ve seen 30 minutes to 1:30+)
- Number of times in a week / month? (Besides the standard weekly meeting, there are daily meetings, monthly gatherings, and less-than-monthly gatherings)
- Location? (off-campus or on-campus, and then the decision of where beyond that)
- Is the bulk of the meeting organized / run by students or staff?
- Who is involved in setup and how is that managed?
- What advertising for the meeting is done on a week-to-week basis?
- What takes place as student wait to start? Congregate and talk? Sit? Pray / prepare? Eat something?
- Do students wait inside the room or outside?
- Does greeting of members and/or visitors take place? Is that greeting organic? Systematic?
- Start on time? Purposely delayed? Non-purposely delayed?
- How many songs are sung?
- Does the majority of (or all) singing take place before or after the message?
- Is the worship leader and/or band a part of the college ministry?
- Is the worship leader and/or band required to meet certain spiritual qualifications?
- What is the song choice based on?
- Are there other worship stations (art, prayer, etc.) available during this time?
*of course, some “special gatherings” might involve other variations on the singing – like a whole meeting of only singing, a certain type of music, no music, etc.
- Standalone message, or part of a series? (and if so, how long is the series? A few weeks? Semester-long?)
- How is the message topic / passage chosen?
- Who gives the message? Does that change week-to-week?
- How long is the message? (I’ve probably seen from 10 minutes to an hour)
- Is there group discussion of the message?
- Is there interaction with the audience during the message?
*of course, we could ask a billion more questions about message content, speaking aids, components of a message, etc. I’m sticking to broader issues here, but those are all important decisions, too.
- Are announcements given? If so, what is their tone and method? Who gives them?
- Are announcements from outside organizations allowed?
- Is there a “greeting of those around you” time?
- Is there a corporate ice breaker?
- Is there a set-aside time for prayer in groups and/or an extended time of silent prayer?
- Is an offering taken? (yes, plenty of ministries do this)
- Are visitors pointed out during the meeting?
- Is attendance counted, or are attendees recorded somehow?
- Are the college minister and other leaders identified to attendees?
- Is there an opportunity given to take any sort of next step immediately? (this could be anything from an evangelistic appeal / invitation to a “5-minute party” to share about the ministry afterward)
- Do students congregate afterward? (yes, even this is partly our decision!)
- Are there activities organized after the meeting (on location or elsewhere)? Are these ministry-related (like small groups), fellowship, or for some other purpose?
- Are sign-ups and/or advertisements available?
- Do we sell / give away anything (T-shirts, stickers, etc.)?
- Who is involved in “tear-down,” and how is that managed?
So is this one Method or a bundle of Methods? Why does that matter? Check out the the follow-up post for more.