At work, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in a 5-week leadership study; invitees included any of the volunteer leaders my team connects with. Not everybody jumped in – nor were they expected to – but it’s a chance to see some of our leaders up-close and train them on some topics we think they need to hear.

I’ve always been a fan of this methodology for college ministries, so I’m making it this week’s Fridea: Offer an “elective” course for students that ties in to your purposes for the semester or hopes for the future of your ministry.

There’s room for electives that bring up new topics, too, of course – anything from a brief overview of Apologetics to a biblical Finances course to a “book club” around the latest Christian bestseller. But today, I wanted to look at ways an “elective” can be uber-strategic for where you are now as a ministry, or where you want to go. Example scenarios may flesh this idea out the best, so here you go…

An elective that goes deeper on a topic. You’ve recently spoken on “Stewarding Your Time” and received some great feedback (and some great follow-up questions). So you decide to spend the next three weeks, over lunch, talking about Time Management and seeking the Lord’s direction within our days.

The “process” following the event. Your big campus-wide event – teaching about Porn – draws quite a few interested individuals. So to help people (and the truths presented) stick around, you offer three weeks of discussing “Sex, Dating, and Why Christians are Such Prudes” in a non-threatening environment on campus.

The catch-up elective. Several new students have popped into your ministry since you last cast your vision, shared the “pillars” of your ministry, or otherwise taught on foundational issues. So you design a Freshman-only study or other “new person party” – and pitch it well – that helps assimilate students into community with each other, lets you get to know them, and catches them up on your ministry’s top priorities.

A leadership study to prepare for the future. By now, you don’t quite know everybody in your ministry… and you’re looking to fill some student leader spots this fall. So you spend six weeks on classic “leadership training” – open to any student who wants to come. This way, you identify those who want to lead, get to know them, and develop your (potential) future leaders.

Priming the pump for a future push. You know God is leading your ministry to develop its Service focus next school year. So you spend four weeks meeting with any interested students, going through the book When Helping Hurts and talking about this topic… whether you mention your future push or not.