As I’m preparing to strategize with a collegiate ministry this weekend, I’m blogging some of the questions I’ll ask them to assess ways they can move forward. And they’re questions you can ask about your ministry, too.

Question 3: When your core students think about it “like a college minister,” what do they notice about your ministry?

While I’m meeting with the college ministry, we plan to put together a “focus group” of sorts with some of its core students. What I’ll do in that session is focus on their role not as students who receive from the ministry, but as students who believe in the ministry. If I can get them to think like college ministers (which students leaders technically are anyway), then they’re incredibly valuable for examining the ministry’s weaknesses and strengths.

Why? Because they’ve been with the ministry long enough to “think like a college minister,” but they’re also the exact “target audience” – students – that we’re trying to reach. In missiological terms, they’re the “indigenous leaders” that are the goal of missionary endeavors!

But an important note here:

Student preferences aren’t always great for basing ministry direction on. I’ve been around college ministers who hear one complaint (or suggestion) from a student they like, and before you know it they’re basing a major activity or structure-change on that one comment. While student perceptions certainly matter, they’re highly unreliable. The goal with today’s question is to get students to step outside of just what they prefer, to think about the group as a whole. That will help. And by meeting with several of them (either together or separately), we can get a better, broader, more balanced view.