Last night, our church held an “international potluck,” bringing together many of the international-born members of our congregation (and another couple of hundred American-born folks). It was a great chance to celebrate our church’s growing international population and growing diversity, as well as to encourage those born outside the U.S. (who may not always feel “seen” in our largely white church).
Are there any populations within your college ministry that would be impacted by their own “banquet” or other celebration?
Clearly, care must be shown so other populations don’t feel relegated to “non-favorite” status. Much care. But at the same time, sometimes it’s really valuable to gather students around commonalities – not simply to celebrate them, but also to equip them, encourage them, and even help add other students from their niche to your ministry.
You’re not FCA (unless you are FCA), so what if you held an athletes’ gathering? What about a Liberal Arts majors lunch? A Seniors’ banquet? A Christmas gift exchange for all those who live on the south side of campus? An international student potluck? An artists’ breakfast?
There are three points here that keep this wise, even if it doesn’t always seem fair:
- Communicate. Share why you’re doing this. As long as you communicate well the reasons a certain group is being celebrated (or being gathered for other reasons), students should be open to that.
- Be strategic. Don’t hold a special gathering just because certain students might like it – or worse, because it makes you feel like your college ministry is extra-cool. Hold the gathering because you have strong reasons to do so.
- Involve students in planning. You may end up having lots of special gatherings, led by students in those niches. If Ag majors or musicians or those involved in student government want to rise up and plan something, then so be it! That way you’re certainly not playing favorites. And when a student asks where their niche’s gathering is… you can ask them if they’re prepared to lead it!