raising up indigenous missionaries

In the last couple of posts (here and here), I’ve been discussing recruiting – specifically, recruiting in an imbalanced way. Instead of simply spreading our efforts evenly, I argue, we should put extra emphasis on the methods that are already working AND on the segments of campus that seem to be responding best.

One of the reasons for the latter – spending extra time recruiting from the groups that are already showing up – is that it allows for easy buy-in to the mission of your ministry. The students already coming to your ministry (whether they’ve been attending for years or only days) get to go back to their fraternity, their dorm, or their Engineering Club and play the role of “indigenous leader.”

But are you raising up students in that way? Taken from a past post after speaking to a college ministry from Palo Alto, here are some extra thoughts on this:

1. I’ve noticed that college students are able and willing to rise to the challenge as “college ministers” themselves. Even though they are in the throes of the college experience themselves, like the “indigenous” leaders raised up within foreign missions, students can get excited about serving as “missionaries to their own tribe.”

2. This is more than just asking them to serve as Student Leaders within the college ministry we (as college ministers) are directing. This is empowering them and encouraging them to take the added step of taking responsibility for the reaching of their campus. Yes, it’s still often best for them to have direction or oversight from somebody a little bit older. But there’s a difference in how much ownership they assume.

3. By investing our own recruiting efforts into their smaller “mission field,” we’re helping – but letting them play a part, too. When you have students ready to work within their segment of campus, you don’t want to recruit “for them.” But it’s okay if we help, giving them early wins and letting them learn about recruiting alongside us.

4. Obviously, this can mean helping them bring students to the larger college ministry OR helping them minister even more “locally.” While you may still help oversee their efforts, this isn’t just about getting them to draw their acquaintances to the Large Group Meeting. (But it’s okay if that’s part of it.) Hopefully there are also chances for these “indigenous leaders” to dream more locally, whether that means establishing small group (or even one-on-one) discipleship or working out some other segment-specific opportunities.

5. When I called the students to this – and encouraged them therefore to be open to ALL the ways God might direct their “missions” – they ran with it! For example, at the retreat I was speaking at, several students stayed up late conspiring to reach a local community college with a Bible study (even though only one of those students actually attends that school).

6. College students can rise to the challenge of a high level of “ownership” in your mission to the campus. How much do your students “own” the mission right now? Have they taken on the role of missionaries to their own campuses?

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