This week, I’ll be posting (and occasionally updating) some solid ideas that you could pretty easily work on – or get students to work on – at this point in the semester. And if you’ve already done these things, I’d love to hear about it.
Today, a few ideas for questions to ask students as you get to know them – via survey, new student info card, or face-to-face:
1. Ask their passions.
My guess is you get some pretty good info on your students: Class Year, Major, Phone Number, maybe a Birthday or their Hometown.
Have you asked them their passions? (Surprisingly, these may not be the same as their majors…) Have you asked them the ways they really like to serve others, or what they’d do if they had unlimited time and opportunity and resources?
How do they hope to change the world? How do they hope to change their world, and soon?
Might God want to speak to you about the future of your ministry through the passions, strengths, talents, and other characteristics of the students He’s brought you? Or is the format and programming of your ministry far more about your passions, personality, etc., than it is about theirs?
2. Ask how they found you.
I think there are lots of ministries out there – even big ones – that never get a good sense of why people first come.
So what can we do?
Regarding how we draw students: If “exit interviews” for ministry-goers are uncommon, I’m sure “entrance interviews” are uncommon, too. But simply asking visitors “How’d you hear about us?” can go a long way toward developing strategies that double down on those forms of recruitment that are already working.
3. Ask why they’re coming.
“What do you hope to get out of this college ministry?”
Clearly, students will have a variety of reasons for attending – some more noble than others, some more practical than others, and some more actionable than others. But don’t you think knowing this information – for as many students as possible – would help your staff and leaders think better about providing a great experience? Even when a student “just wants to find a girlfriend” or otherwise hasn’t set their hopes high enough, it’s very useful information for discipling him (or her). And plenty of students might surprise you, even leading you to consider new activities or new emphases.
Don’t get me wrong: This isn’t about “meeting customer preferences” to keep people or get new members. I’m talking about discipleship, which should always concern itself with how well forms fit the audience.