forty-NINE decisions you’ve already made about your college ministry’s large group meeting

Do you realize how many options are available for each step of your ministry?

I would guess that most of us don’t, simply because we haven’t had the opportunity to see what others are doing in the world of campus ministry. But it’s funny: Once we see even a few “alternate universes,” we may start to realize how many options are truly available.

I presented the list below a few months ago. But it was really popular AND ties directly to something else I want to discuss this week in the realm of Backwards College Ministry. So I edited things a bit – and added nine more decisions to the list.

This is a list of decisions you’ve already made about your college ministry’s large group gathering, the “Sing ‘n Speak” that is the “cornerstone” for so many. And this list is based on actual variations I’ve seen. So I’m not making up new ideas (though we should do that!); I’m simply noting the many places in which college ministries already vary… which means that in each of these 49 areas, there are decisions to be made.

My hope is that we’d walk through these decisions and ask ourselves, “Have we really made these decisions count?”

Decisions you’ve made about your college ministry’s large group gathering

Schedule, organization, etc.

  1. Day of the week?
  2. Time of night (or day)?
  3. Length? (I’ve seen 30 minutes to 1:30+)
  4. Number of times in a week / month? (Besides the standard weekly meeting, there are daily meetings, monthly gatherings, and less-than-monthly gatherings)
  5. What do we call this Large Group Meeting? (formally and informally)
  6. Location? (off-campus or on-campus, and then the decision of where beyond that)
  7. Is the bulk of the meeting organized / run by students or by staff?
  8. Does the meeting involve only one college ministry, or multiple ministries? (multiple could be from the same organization across a city, or from multiple organizations across a campus or city)
  9. Who is involved in setup and how is that managed?
  10. Are adults / volunteers present at the meeting?

The Start

  1. What do students see when they first approach the meeting area?
  2. What takes place as student wait to start? Congregate and talk? Sit? Pray / prepare? Eat something?
  3. What takes place before the start? Music? Announcements on PowerPoint? A countdown video?
  4. Do students wait inside the room, outside the room, or both?
  5. Does greeting of members and/or visitors take place before the meeting? Is that greeting organic? Systematic?
  6. Nametags?
  7. Start on time? Purposely delayed? Non-purposely delayed?

The Music

  1. Are songs regularly sung at the Large Group Meeting?
  2. How many songs are sung?
  3. Does the majority of (or all) singing take place before or after the message?
  4. Is the singing broken up by announcements or other activities?
  5. Do the worship leader and/or band participate in the college ministry (outside of this meeting)?
  6. Is the worship leader and/or band required to meet certain spiritual qualifications?
  7. What is the song choice based on?
  8. 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.

The Message

  1. Standalone message, or part of a series? (and if so, how long is the series? A few weeks? Semester-long?)
  2. How is the message topic / passage chosen?
  3. Who gives the message? Does that change week-to-week?
  4. How long is the message? (I’ve probably seen from 10 minutes to an hour)
  5. Is there organized group discussion of the message within the meeting time?
  6. Are suggestions given for further study of the topic (either verbally or on paper)?
  7. 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.

The More

  1. Are announcements given? If so, what is their tone and method? Who gives them?
  2. Are announcements from outside organizations allowed?
  3. What students / kinds of students are “honored” or placed in front of their peers? (Thanks to Bob Wriedt from the original post’s comments for helping me think through this one.)
  4. Is there a “greeting of those around you” time?
  5. Is there a corporate ice breaker and/or skit?
  6. Is there a set-aside time for prayer in groups and/or an extended time of silent prayer?
  7. Is an offering taken? (yes, plenty of ministries do this)
  8. Are visitors pointed out during the meeting?
  9. Is attendance counted, or are attendees recorded somehow?
  10. Are the college minister and other leaders identified to attendees?
  11. 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)

The After

  1. Do students congregate afterward? (yes, even this is partly our decision!)
  2. Is there space / opportunity for students to connect with each other (even casually) after the meeting?
  3. Are there activities organized after the meeting? Are these ministry-related (like small groups), fellowship, or for some other purpose?
  4. Are sign-ups and/or advertisements available?
  5. Do we sell / give away anything (T-shirts, stickers, etc.)?
  6. Who is involved in “tear-down,” and how is that managed?

Look for the follow-up later this week. But if you want more now, check out the the original  follow-up post, which asks whether these should be seen as a bunch of methods – or one “method bundle.”


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