Yesterday I discussed your last chance to help students plug in more deeply with your ministry. And one of the big reasons is that they’re more likely to return to your ministry in the fall.

It’s easy, though, to think of “retention efforts” as simply about us, about building our ministry’s numbers and giving us more to do (if you wanted to be really cynical about it). In the backs of our minds, it’s also easy to see recruiting students (in the first place) the same way.

So I wanted to merge in an older post that talks about this very thing – that recruitment isn’t pre-discipleship, it IS discipleship. The same applies to retention: If all you do is get a student to stick around, you’ve helped them along the path to spiritual maturity.

Here are those earlier thoughts:

I don’t believe that recruiting students is simply a “necessary secular” activity that prepares for “real” spiritual ministry later on.

Too often we think of recruiting only in terms of us-versus-other-ministries, forgetting that what we offer is also competing with everything else: everything from time-wasting and wisdom-lacking to the “dark side” of campus life.

But more than that, we’re pointing students toward something – our own campus ministry – that we believe could honestly impact their lives (or at least I hope you believe that). Our love for campus ministry exists because we love its effects, right? So we really-really-really want more students to experience those effects. So we recruit them.

Recruitment ISN’T pulling students in so we can be involved with them spiritually. Recruitment is the first step in our spiritual involvement with these students!

Or think about it this way:

When I encourage a student to consider our college ministry, I’m simply

  • presenting a spiritual endeavor for them to pursue
  • relating why it’s important and beneficial
  • and urging them to try something that I know (better than they know) could greatly benefit them.

Sounds a lot like what happens when I sit across from a guy at Taco Bell and encourage him to use spiritual disciplines, or talk about better wisdom for dating.

Recruitment is discipleship (assuming we’re doing it rightly). [I did follow the earlier post with one about doing this well: click here for that!]