concrete over anecdotal

Just a quick thought about the makeup of our ministries:

If you’re like a lot of college ministers, you “make the rounds” in any given Large Group Meeting. There are new (and old) students you meet, and plenty more that (you hope) are greeted well by student leaders or Greeting Team or just a friendly person in your ministry.

And through the random students you encounter, you get a “sense” of who’s coming to our ministry.

The same thing happens with the students we regularly encounter – like our student leaders. You’re likely to hear from them and learn about them far more than the rest of your students.

What we have to be careful about is what we do with the information we gain. If a college minister talks to three students, and two of them happen to be in fraternities, then it’s pretty easy to conclude that “We’ve been getting a lot of fraternity guys recently.” If four of his student leaders want to hear messages on Revelation, it’s easy to assume that lots of students do. If we act on that “information,” we may miss what God’s actually doing in a wider swath of students’ hearts and lives.

Conclusions can’t be drawn through anecdotal accounts. This is a good time in the school year to realize that – for some purposes – we need something more concrete. Like a survey. Or hearing from several students about the new students they met last week. Or whatever… as long as it’s more than just anecdotal.

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