splitsville, revisited

I’m taking a vacation this week, so I’ll have a collection of favorite posts about one topic that hits most college ministries… the Large Group Meeting! Whether you have a classic “sing-n-speak” or some twist on the all-come gathering, I hope you’ll find these useful.

When I went to Texas A&M, I jumped in pretty quickly to a church that just happened to draw the largest number of students down there. Our enormous Sunday morning gatherings (800 or so) began with some very “collegiate” worship, followed by announcements. But then, except for the very rare Sundays when we stayed together, we split into probably two dozen different classes. These were static for the semester (though the participants could move around if they felt like it), but new classes were introduced each semster.

So over my time at A&M, I participated in a small group studying God’s Invitation, a larger Freshmen-only class, a large Bible-book class taught by an adult, and a class working through the book Experiencing God (co-taught with a girl). There was another one in there – possibly a men’s class? – but no more for me, since I graduated rather early.

This was our only Large Group Meeting… and it was only “Large Group” for about half of its allotted time.

It took me a long time to realize that any Large Group Meeting of a certain size could offer the same sort of “split form.” Following fellowship, worship, announcements, skits, videos, etc., any large-enough college ministry could offer a variety of opportunties for its students.

From the perspective of college ministry “norms,” this is definitely from funkytown.

Potential pros? If your offerings are “electives,” then this allows for and even pushes “self-discipleship” – making students discern the learning they need the most, at this time. Whether students choose their classes or not, it allows for more of your qualified leaders (either students or adults) to participate in a teaching role. It can offer variety, which college students – and all the moreso Millennial college students – love.

Doesn’t this just replicate small groups? That’s not the intent here. But these groups may actually offer variety the small groups don’t (in their teachers, or across lines of school year, gender, or maturity). If your small groups require pretty solid commitment, these probably wouldn’t – they’d still function as “front door” (assuming that’s the goal of your Large Group Meeting). And these splits wouldn’t necessarily be very small, after all.

And while this takes away some opportunities to steer the entire group at once, you could – of course – keep everyone together in certain weeks of the school year.

Be sure to read the very interesting comments left on the original post – and add your new ones here.

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