best practices for the large group meeting

It’s been a week of examining all the options we’ve got in college ministry – and arguing that very few methods within our field qualify as true “Best Practices” (that argument begins here). For instance, I pointed out forty-nine decisions you’ve made about your college ministry’s Large Group Meeting… and then said that only five or six of those would be things pan-contextual enough to be – perhaps – considered “Best Practices.”

Of course, it’s likely your list would look different than mine. But I’d still like to share the Best Practices I’d pull from that list of forty-nine decisions. And as this week’s Frideas, perhaps you’ll find something worth adding to your quiver!

The Start: decisions 5 and 6

That’s right: Not until I reach the fifteenth decision in the list do I discover a potential Best Practice. Personally, I believe Large Group Meetings generally need a systematic method for greeting visitors. It’s got to be on-purpose… and it’s got to be purposeful; that is, the efforts should result in visitors actually feeling welcomed.

Surprisingly enough, I also believe that nametags are one of the unsung Best Practices in college ministry. Plenty of Large Group Meetings around the country already make use of them, and I simply find the upsides far more compelling than the downsides. (See a quick synopsis of the argument here.)

The Music: decisions 6 and 7

I’m personally a big fan of a high spiritual bar for leadership, including worship leaders. While I recognize that there is clear division on this one within the field of collegiate ministry, I’d go to bat for this as a Best Practice.

Decision 7 under the Music portion of that list asks, “What is the song choice based on?” While I don’t feel that every song has to line up with that night’s theme, I would say that every song should be purposeful, a la Backwards College Ministry.

The Message: decision 2

Again, I defer to Backwards College Ministry and would urge message topics or passages be tailored to purposes. And nope, that doesn’t rule out expository / non-topical messages, which (like any method) can be the perfect fit for certain purposes.

The After: decision 4

It just seems like a missed opportunity not to have anything that offers students a next step, a way to invite friends, a chance to plug in deeper, etc. So I’d probably vote for providing sign-ups and advertisements as a Best Practice. It may be a little boring (and extremely common), but it seems wise!

so what about you?

Anything on that list you think can be answered with another Best Practice? And any of these you feel don’t really reach that high bar?


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  1. I think your analysis is right on Bensen.
    Most good large meetings can be broken down into three acts. Opening, worship, and message tends to be the typical 3-block format. Our ministry usually stays with a “normal” 3-block format for the first phase of the year to get people comfortable. As the year progresses, we switch to a “split” format, where we do a long worship block and the message back-to-back, but with a little housekeeping sandwiched in the middle.

    A conversation that I would like to have is about issues of scale. How does a large group meeting’s format change as you get bigger? What are some of the things you can do with 100 people than you can’t do with 200? What happens at 500? Do best practices shift depending on the size of your group, or even the speed at which you grow?

  2. Interesting post.

    Now that summer has arrived and things have slowed down for me a bit, I’ve really been challenged about how our large group operates. Will we ever do anything more than SING & SPEAK? Honestly, I’m a little bored with it.

    My hope is to bring in something that will creatively challenge our students during the large group meetings – that ties in with the worship and message. Like finger painting, photography, small group discussion, prayer groups…I don’t know?

    I mean, what better place to try out new things than with college students? A lot of them are probably growing weary of Stand & Sing, Sit & Speak too.

  3. Agreed. I think that it also depends on how interactive your sing/speak segments are. If you have worship that is engaging and encourages physical participation, you can definitely raise the atmosphere with the large group. Same thing with the speaker – elements like Q/A, txt polling, and small group breakouts and be a lifesaver from the monotony.

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