two little teaching options

It’s always good for us to review even the “basics” of our college ministry’s setup. For many of us, for instance, what night our Large Group Meeting meets isn’t something we’ve pondered in a long, long time. Or maybe the fact that our small groups are all 8-12 members is so “standard” we’ve forgotten why that made sense.

Today I wanted to throw out two options specifically for the teaching in your college ministry’s Large Group Meeting. It’s interesting to note that many college ministries seem to fall toward two extremes here. But whichever side you presently land on, I encourage you to give the other some thought. Is your present method best accomplishing your purposes? Or might your ministry be better served by mixing in some of the “other” style?

(This is reminiscent of the “College Ministry Poles” series, where I look at how various ministries differ! Or, if you want to see 49 choices you’ve made for your Large Group Meeting – possibly without knowing it – check out this list.)

series vs. one-off

Some college ministries almost always teach in series. Others will nearly always be talking about something different week-to-week. But there are true positives for each option.

A series might help reinforce past teaching, encourage students to attend regularly, better cover a topic than simply one message would, and draw new / marginal students more than a single message topic would. Continuity is a great thing, too, and can even help develop a sense of “identity” and “community” in a campus ministry.

On the other hand, doing a series “just to do a series” is highly unpurposeful; sometimes what your students need most can’t be crammed into a series, and it’s tempting to design talks around a series rather than around needs. Going the non-series route might also allow for more flexibility, keep new / marginal students from feeling left out, increase the interest level in these change-loving Millennials, and free you to tackle “teachable moments” in your ministry, on campus, or in the world.

one teacher vs. rotation

In the same way, certain ministries seem to gravitate toward having only one main speaker, while others nearly always have a different speaker week-to-week. As with the above options, I’d argue that whichever side you’re on, it’s worth considering if the present setup is still the best setup.

Having one teacher does allow for greater familiarity – for both teacher and students! It’s also likely that you’re going to put the person up there because he or she is highly skilled. Sometimes a single teacher (particularly the lead college minister) needs to “steer the ship” or “cast the vision” over a series of weeks or months. Having a standard teacher allows them to hone their craft over time, and students also know what to expect. A standard speaker will also be consistent (obviously) in theology, approach, focus, etc.

On the other hand, allowing speakers to rotate keeps the change rate high. It also means a variety of students will be catered to through the various styles. Different wisdom / approaches on topics can be shared. The burden of preparation is spread among various speakers, as is the opportunity to be known by the group. This method might also allow speakers to be trained / “raised up” more easily.

This particular teaching pic is from the Chi Alpha crew at Texas A&M Corpus Christi!

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4 Comments

  1. We tend to do a bit of both…generally we teach in series, but we take time off for the one-shot talks about dating/sex, decision-making, Q/A time, etc. I have a 5-year plan that includes those things I really want the students to hear in that time frame.

    We also rotate between semester-long series, year-long series, and even ones that span 3-6 weeks. I think the standard depends on the personality and style of your teacher and your group.

    Good thoughts!

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