one is the most strategic number (sometimes)

I was talking to a friend in young adult ministry yesterday, and his comments reminded me of a principle I’ve posted here before. In his case, he was describing their recent Chili Cook-off – and noting that it was mostly about fun and fellowship for the large group. They didn’t feel the need to stop the music and have a gospel presentation in the middle; instead, as people approached, he trusted the intentionality of the group members but was focused on a fun outing.

Is this okay? It’s easy to feel like everything has to cover everything. You’ll see what I mean – and what I argue – in this post from the past:

when it’s just one, it’s just one

It’s okay to have only one ministry purpose.

I don’t mean having a single aim for your entire college ministry – although that’s probably okay, too, if you see your ministry as complementary to other ministries students will be impacted by.

But what I mean today is that it’s okay for a campus ministry activity to be focused on achieving one thing.

It’s okay to build a night around fun – without including a Bible study, worship segment, recruitment aspect, or attempt to fulfill another purpose.

It’s okay to have a Large Group Meeting talk that aims for students to know, feel, or do ONE thing… instead of trying to cram five applications in.

It’s legitimate to build a retreat just around rest. Or prayer. Or leadership development. Or covering one biblical topic. Or serving a specific segment of your ministry… without including any other purposes but the one, but focusing the entire effort on achieving that one thing really well.

It’s fine for one meeting of a small group to be spent entirely on encouragement, if that’s what’s needed most.

There will be plenty of times when God reveals multiple purposes for a college ministry activity. But sometimes the best impact will come when He only gives one purpose – and ministers (or student leaders) marshal all aspects of that activity toward accomplishing that one thing or getting that one point across. We may think we’re doing more by aiming for more, when in fact we may be only halfheartedly accomplishing four purposes when we could have really taken ground in one.

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