an ear to the grounds (a fridea)

So this Fridea comes directly out of the I’ve-never-seen-it files – meaning I made it up. But like lots of good brainstorms, it’s actually a derivation / combination of several ideas I have seen. So I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to find out it’s been done.

And like all methods, it’s only useful if it’s purpose-fulfilling; methods like the one I’m about to share are tempting to use just ’cause of the attention they’ll bring. They’re kinda collegiate-cool, so they’re dangerous. So please… don’t forget to start with the purposes in mind and work backwards. If this method fits your purposes, hurrah. If not, trash it.

So here’s the derivation / combination:

  1. I’ve definitely seen college ministries solicit “Questions for God,” “Thoughts about Religion,” or other anonymous spiritual comments from the campus as a whole.
  2. I think I’ve seen college ministries let students vote on topics for a series – usually along the lines of “Tough Questions” or something. (And I know I’ve seen churches do this.)
  3. Not sure I’ve seen the two combined, but that’s this week’s Fridea: Teach a series on the top spiritual questions of your campus as a whole.

This could be an awesome, campus-wide event… or it could just be a great chance for you to take the spiritual pulse of your campus, and then teach your regular students about the issues they’re going to encounter with their friends.

If you could use tips, here are some quick ideas for the different parts of this:

getting the topics

  • Do the whiteboard(s) thing in the middle of campus, letting people write questions, spiritual observations, or answers to specific questions you post on the board.
  • Set up a blog, advertise it, and let people anonymously comment.
  • Set up a site where people can enter questions/topics but also vote on the ones already there.
  • Do it survey-style, having students (and you) walk up to students and just ask. This accomplishes advertising and topic-getting, but it also opens some HUGE (and reasonable) doors to spiritual conversations right then and there.

deciding the topics

  • Pray – intently – through what God shows you via your campus. (He’s big enough to speak through even the darkest of places and people!) What topics does your campus most need at this time? This may or may not correspond with the “vote,” so I wouldn’t promise you’re going to go with the straight vote results – unless you are.
  • Don’t decide how many messages you’ll give until after the results come in.
  • Look for the hurts, concerns, and questions behind the topics that get raised. Aim your messages at helping real needs, not just felt needs.

the messages

  • This doesn’t have to take place in your main large group meeting. Decide the best format / place / time. This could make a great “special afternoon series,” for example.
  • You’ll want to handle it differently if outsiders are actually going to show up, or if it’s mostly going to be for your usual crew.
  • If you are aiming for outsiders, you’ll probably want to advertise the heck out of this thing, from first to last.
  • Decide how you want to present it: Is this “Christianity’s take on burning issues?” “The Bible’s answers to toughest questions?” “A frank discussion?” “A debate on the campus’s hot topics?” Each of those will need to be handled slightly differently.
  • You could have more than one speaker, more than one topic covered in a session, even panel discussion. In fact, this whole thing could be a multi-ministry event.
  • Consider what might accompany the series: Handouts? A corresponding blog? mp3s for those who missed? Helps for sharing these truths with friends?

Okay, I’m soaked from all this brainstorming. Anybody ever seen anything like this, or have any ideas for this?

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4 Comments

  1. Pingback: it came from the cornfields (a brainstorming example) « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

  2. michaelmears

    FSU CCF, we tried this using formspring which allowed for anonymous questions to be posted. With about 80 students we had over 300 questions and the narrowed it to ten then had them vote and had over a thousand votes total. It was great for our students to engage in the sermons and it was also very beneficial to see where our students are at and what they really are thinking about. It was totally not the type of questions I expected to be asked.

  3. At New Life, we did something like this 3 years back. We had all of our students ask 3 friends the question, “What one thing could a church talk about on a Sunday morning that would get you out of bed?” And then we had all of our students email in the responses they got. The top 3 were:

    1) How is church relevant to my life?
    2) Doesn’t science disprove Christianity?
    3) Why are Christians so judgmental?

    We got a pretty good turnout for this. One of our most memorable series, actually.

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