the listening-brainstorming session

This summer, I’ll have the awesome opportunity to once again participate in a college ministry conference, in one of the roles that’s my very favorite. You might call it a “30-minute consultant,” a “one-sided brainstorming,” or something else. But the gist of it is:

  • Getting to sit down with one ministry at a time (so one college minister, or a minister + staff and volunteers from their ministry)
  • Hearing about their ministry
  • Especially hearing about whatever areas of their ministry they’d like to talk about
  • Asking questions that are meant to poke and prod
  • Offering brainstorming thoughts – not because I know what they should do (It’s only a quick meeting, after all!), but because I know what they could do

I can’t wait. When I’ve done this in the past, it’s both exhausting and exhilarating! And it’s a particular joy because I’m able to help in whatever area is most on those leaders’ minds. One ministry may talk about getting more students, one may ask about unity with other groups, one may be restructuring small groups. Whatever the case, that time gets to “scratch where they itch.” It’s awesome.

The reason I mention this, however, is not personal. It’s to remind you that you can get the same thing. All it takes is finding a college minister who’s been around the block a little bit. Maybe they’ve seen a good number of different college ministries. Maybe they’ve served a few different places. Maybe they’ve been in college ministry awhile and have visited a good number of college ministry conferences, and they’ve learned what other groups do…

So what if you asked for 30 minutes of their time, for a little “listening-brainstorming” session? The topic could be your general campus ministry, or (usually better) it could be a specific aspect of your campus ministry. The ground rules are that they can suggest anything, including interfering with sacred cows (maybe especially interfering with sacred cows).

You do want to talk to a fellow learner, not a boaster! You’re not asking what they do (although of course that’s instructive). You’re mostly asking what you could do, so you can take that home and wrestle with it. (So if they haven’t been a learner, they won’t have a lot of options for you.) In the end, you might adopt their ideas, you might stay where you are (but having thought through things better), or you may end up with new ideas because of the time spent brainstorming.

And if you have input in planning college ministry conferences, this would be a great addition to your lineup. While plenty are going to breakouts (or free time), individual ministries can be helped in the exact ways they were hoping to be. There may be no better way to make a gathering valuable.

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