This week, I’m asking the questions that come up when I consult with college ministries. They’re great for this time of year, because we’ve got the chance to adjust midstream as 2014 approaches.

After asking why a specific campus ministry should actually exist, my second question dives into other areas in which a ministry might want to “double down.”

Question 2: What has already been drawing students, impacting students, and keeping students?

This Question doesn’t mean recruitment or “numbers” should be paramount; the middle theme – “impacting students” – matters an awful lot. But it’s also okay to want to draw students and to desire to keep them around, as long as our first priority is their spiritual growth, not our ministry’s growth.

But I think there are lots of ministries out there – even big ones – that never get a good sense of why people first come or why people tend to stay. They may have a somewhat better idea of where spiritual growth is happening most within the ministry… but I wouldn’t want to assume even that’s true.

So what can we do?

Regarding how we draw students: If “exit interviews” for ministry-goers are uncommon, I’m sure “entrance interviews” are uncommon, too. But simply asking visitors “How’d you hear about us?” can go a long way toward developing strategies that double down on those forms of recruitment that are already working.

Likewise, formally polling Juniors and Seniors to get a read on why they’ve stuck around could tell you a lot about ways to bring others all the way to graduation.

How could you get at the Impact part of today’s Question? Maybe it’s an end-of-semester survey of everyone; maybe you gather small group leaders and ask them about their members. In a small ministry, informal conversations may suffice. But it’s not just about asking Seniors, because some of those you’ve impacted well may still choose to move on before they graduate.

You can likely come up with some methods that work for your ministry better than I can. (I would, however, encourage you not only to use “organic” or “informal” methods, since those results can end up being more anecdotal than comprehensive.) The point is making sure you are answering this question well. Then you can focus on strengthening the methods that are already working, and you could potentially introduce new methods that help in similar ways.