Since most of us are still on the front end of our semesters, I thought I’d brainstorm (with you? at you?) about some options for a college ministry’s big weekly meeting. (Some of us affectionately call that thing the Sing-and-Speak.)
Of course, there’s a big list of 49 Large Group Meeting variations I’ve actually seen around the country – and it’s always worth purusing.
But today, I figured I’d throw out seven ideas that I personally believe are highly worth considering (if you haven’t assimilated them already). Not every one will be right for your ministry, but they’re ALL very worth contemplating, in my humble opinion.
1. Testimony, interview, “charge,” or other mini-message. Campus Crusade for Christ’s “student testimony time” is status quo in that organization, but this certainly isn’t something we all have as part of our weekly gatherings. It’s worth considering, for sure, and not only because today’s students love eclectic presentations.
2. Make announcements particularly engaging. This is more common, but it’s certainly not pervasive. Announcements contain a lot of important stuff; they deserve being presented in a way that really draws (and keeps) attention… and spurs to action, even with our distracted students.
3. “Punch your points.” I don’t know if I made up that term or not, but it’s something I remind myself to do. Students can best remember your message in bullet-points, whether you like it or not. Make sure your points are purposefully punched – highlighted, put on the screen, repeated, drawn on a board, whatever you’ve gotta do. I have sat through a lot of college ministry meetings where it was unclear what exactly we were being called to.
*Bonus: One method along these lines is to offer a final charge – maybe even after the final song or announcements or whatever you usually do after the message!
4. String ’em together. Whether you (or others) speak in a series or not, there’s not a lot of downside to reminding students where you have journeyed previously. Would it be helpful to use reminders each week, whether through visual aids that pile up through a semester, a two-minute recap, or other means?
5. Pray. This one – maybe more than the others – depends a bit on the audience you’re drawing and how your Large Group Meeting fits in the overall scheme / strategy of your campus ministry. (You do have an overall scheme and strategy, yes?) But you could consider a genuine prayer period – even a few minutes or more. It’s amazing what God does when our students actually seek His face, and raising the expectations for what He’s going to do in the rest of the meeting can be a powerful thing.
6. Tie the music to the message. There are a lot of reasons to do this. I know it’s easier not to… but that’s probably the only reason not to. Have you considered building everything in the meeting around the purposes for the meeting?
7. Consider when you sing. The main thing here is to realize there is no “best time” for singing. Instead, your Sing-and-Speak’s purposes should determine when and how long your group sings (before, after, some of both… and I can imagine even zanier options, like singing in the middle of the message). The key is to think and pray this one through and not simply follow a pattern just for the sake of “presentation” or tradition or those sorts of less-important things. (While it’s certainly not best for every group, I am occasionally reminded that some groups have been really blessed by moving most of the singing to the end.)