raising expectations #5: tonight’s gonna be a good night?

Today (if all has gone well), I’m in Ethiopia with 20 young adults, partnering with local churches through e3 Partners. So this week, I’m re-posting five entries that touch on the idea of “raising expectations” for what we do in our campus ministry. For all the posts (including last Friday’s introduction), click here.

I’ve been pondering how we raise expectations in our ministries this week, but this capper reminds us why this matters at all.

I gotta feeling
That tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night*

How often do students actually look toward your college ministry events with that sort of anticipation?

In the post originally right before this one, I encouraged us to examine whether students enjoy their moments with us. And certainly, THAT axis will affect today’s; the more we enjoy events, the more we look forward to them. But it’s possible that a student could thoroughly enjoy a ministry event… but not be especially excited when next week rolls around. In fact, I think it’s a special ministry indeed where students highly anticipate their upcoming night (or day) with that ministry. It may take quite a while to get there, and not all ministries will.

Anticipation, to me, seems like it might perhaps be more important than simply enjoyment, because it infers how students see your ministry, not just how they experience it. A student who anticipates this week’s large group meeting or next month’s retreat likely does so because they can count on it being good, a good time, or both. They believe in you (their leader) and what you’ll provide, knowing that even if it’s not “enjoyable” it will be worth attending.

Even more importantly, anticipation actually increases the chance students will be impacted in whatever ways God has planned. When they come to learn, they’re more likely to learn. When they expect to experience community, they’re more likely to do so. When they’ve been thinking all day about worshiping God with 20 of their peers, they’re more likely to experience that in a deeper way.

This may turn out to be a more complex evaluation than I can cover here. But I bet if you asked yourself (and your staff, and your student leaders) this question:

Do students truly get excited about coming to our events?

…and got honest answers, at the very least it would lead to a great discussion.

*yep, the song is by the Black Eyed Peas. And I vividly remember it being used as a while-students-enter-the-room song at Young Life College’s large group meeting at ASU. Those Young Life people know how to raise the anticipation level…

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