dovetailing with the freshman experience (four days of frideas, part 2)

Sorry for missing yesterday (it was my birthday!), but I’ll make it up with TWO Frideas today – look for the second one later today.

My church’s college ministry started up on the SMU campus last night, and I was reading the student newspaper. (That, of course, is a practice college ministers should be in the habit of!)

One of the things discussed was the Common Reading undertaken by “first-years” (what freshmen are often called among the Mustang tribe). Like some other campuses, incoming students all read a certain book (in this case, Zeitoun), and presumably discuss it or otherwise learn together from it.

That got me thinking: What if a college ministry dovetailed with that experience? For example, Zeitoun is about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It seems to me that may present the opportunity for…

  • a small group examining spiritual themes in the book
  • talking about service
  • discussing God’s role in suffering and the Problem of Evil
  • or perhaps other “tie-in” discussions.

Or maybe a mission trip slated for New Orleans might strengthen this “teachable moment,” or perhaps a ministry could bring in a speaker to discuss one of the themes from a Christian perspective.

In other words, as something all the freshmen are participating in, there’s at least potential for some kind of small groups, large events, or other connected forums. And there might especially be opportunity to draw seekers, as we offer a spiritual spin on something they’re already encountering.

And THAT thought got me thinking about other common experiences among freshmen at various campuses:

  • New Student Orientation
  • specific new-to-campus seminars students are forced to endure offered for their edification (like alcohol awareness, safe sex, dorm seminars, etc.)
  • even various freshman-mostly classes
  • and whatever else your own campus offers or requires for first-year students

This is what it means to work the ground we’ve been given: We consider ways our campus ministries might connect with what’s already happening. Can you imagine starting a small group to discuss themes brought up in Philosophy 101 or Freshman English? How about a speaker to offer a Christian perspective on “student success”? Or simply connecting your Large Group message with the New Student Orientation speaker’s topic that all the freshmen heard only a few weeks before?

Just a thought. Be creative.


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