I don’t know if your campus ministry has a bracket challenge for this year’s NCAA Tournament. (I hope you do, because that’s a very easy community-builder.) Regardless, the NCAA Tournament offers a great chance to get students together several times over the next few weeks. Even all-day, come-and-go watching parties this weekend or next Thursday through Sunday can be a huge win.

But if students aren’t all that interested – or you want to loop in even more students – what if you raised the stakes? That’s this week’s Fridea – a few quick ways to build interest and get students to join in the fun.

And remember, this is a chance to bring students outside your ministry into the mix – particularly friends, roommates, etc., of your current students.

  • Start a bracket challenge (or an additional bracket challenge) after this weekend, beginning with the Sweet 16.
  • Create a contest based only on picking the big winner of the Tournament.
  • Guarantee your college ministry will take a road trip to the campus of the big winner (or more practically, to one of the Final Four or Elite 8 teams).
  • Randomly assign different segments of your ministry to each of the Sweet 16, Elite 8, or Final Four teams… with a (big) prize or a (big) penalty for that group, based on who wins it all (or who loses by the worst margin).
  • Bring yourself, your staff team, adult volunteers, or student leaders “under the gun” in the same way – with penalties based on who ends up losing (or winning!) the NCAA Tournament.
  • Offer a competition (with a big prize) to see who can get the most students on campus (outside your ministry) to show up to a watching party as “fans” of one of the remaining teams.
  • “Adopt” one Sweet 16 team and go all-in as a ministry rooting for that team. (You can get other college ministries in on this for some friendly competition – or even other organizations on campus.)

Of course, this doesn’t even dive in to what the penalties in these lil’ competitions could be. That alone can raise the stakes in a HUGE way. Hope you’re a creative… punisher.

What ideas do you have for raising the stakes and getting your students to join in the fun?

If you haven’t seen it, be sure to read my newest “sixty-eight: a vision trip” essay. Hope it encourages you and helps you spread the vision for what you do on campus.