Yesterday’s post brought us an awesome question from Pat, who wanted to know the best day – if there is a best day – for reaching college students in a large group setting.
As she noted there, we can’t assume any campus will be like any other. But the sad thing is, there might be lots of college ministers who would declare a certain day to be the best… when, of course, it changes campus-to-campus. But in talking about each day of the week in a general sense, and noting what I’ve found around the U.S., maybe I’ll spark some figuring-it-out for others.
Mondays: This isn’t an uncommon day for college ministries to hold a large group meeting. But it seems like in many places it’s a big night for fraternities, sororities, and other student organizations to meet. While that may not rule out a college ministry’s efforts (especially if it “competes” with organizations it’s unlikely to draw students from), it’s a good reason to think twice. Another downside is the lack of advertising time on campuses, for ministries that want to hype for more than 24 hours.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: These days both seem to be pretty common nights for college ministry. Ministries might consider whether they want to jumpstart a week for students… or reach students after the burdens of (most of the) schoolweek is over. Thursdays could be a problem if students are prone to skipping Fridays, which on some campuses can happen a lot. On the other hand, Thursdays are also seen as a good night to give students a better choice than the bar scene (which starts on Thursdays in many places).
Wednesdays: Depending on the context, these can be a lot like Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the midweek-ness can be a bonus for some. However, in some contexts holding a campus-based service on Wednesdays will be perceived as competing with local churches. Yes, this perception is likely growing less prevalent, but it’s still out there.
Fridays: YES, there are ministries – not just one or two – that hold their “sing-n-speaks” on Fridays. It may be the fact that the end of the week has come – and the studying won’t start until Saturday or Sunday. (I think I recall that notion at Cornell, for instance.) Others choose Fridays in no small part to compete with the party scene that engulfs students. Of course, there’s a big downside for a “suitcase campus,” where students regularly leave for the weekend. And even on other campuses, a ministry may face a regular tide of missing students. But in some cases, that hasn’t been a dealbreaker.
Saturdays: I only remember one Saturday night collegiate gathering – in New London, Connecticut. I’m sure there are others out there, but the downsides seem numerous… including the fact that there’s a day spent off-campus (so even advertising is difficult).
Sundays: Though rare, I get the feeling some ministries might have found this to be a surprisingly good night for a collegiate service. While you can’t really advertise on campus that day, the hope is that even students who leave town will come back on campus by Sunday nights. There’s still the concern of accidentally competing with church services (in some quarters), but there’s less chance of competing with other campus activities. And it’s a big way to start the week, before the stresses of classes and extracurriculars have begun once again.