You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘for recruitment’ category.

It’s a spectacular time to do a hospitality check-up, since October is well past most college ministry’s major influx of new visitors. Student leaders, staff, and the whole ministry will find it easier to slack just a bit; for instance, even though they see each other regularly, students may habitually connect with friends instead of looking for people they don’t know (whereas in August, “greeting visitors” was more on their minds).

So here’s a handy checklist to think through or talk through for your campus ministry, as you recast the vision for hospitality mid-semester:

  1. Do student leaders know the names of every “regular” (in a smaller ministry) or several dozen regulars (in a bigger ministry)?
  2. Are students seeking out people they don’t know each week, or only people who seem “new”?
  3. Are next steps for students still clearly discussed – and are next-step opportunities still “open”? (For instance, will students still hear about small groups and have the chance – soon – to jump in?)
  4. Is the Greeting Team still zealous, visibly excited, and having fun?
  5. Are visitors still greeted from the stage with gusto… and are there other ways current students are regularly reminded that this is a welcome place for guests?
  6. Do you still do nametags? (It’s still always worth considering…)
  7. Are you, O College Minister, still making purposeful  efforts to get to know names (and other details) better and better?

Do your encouragements to invite friends leave an impression that longtime members are somehow less than?

It makes all the sense in the world to push students to invite. You should.

But as we’ve all noticed with “too sales-ish” email lists, pushy iPhone apps, and over-eager efforts to fundraise… most of us are turned off by feeling that “I matter because of something I can get you.” If your students hear too often that they need to bring more people – especially if it isn’t explained well – then that impression won’t sit well.

What’s more, we who “recruit” or “mobilize” face two particularly annoying challenges here:

  • Intent doesn’t really matter (in this regard). What we’re talking about here is the impression that’s left with people, not your heart. (And yes, caring about impressions is caring about people.)
  • Plenty can happen subconsciously. This is the scariest to me: People may not even realize that they’re a little irked. But somewhere, in the back of their mind, people may lose a little bit of steam (and ironically be less likely to invite!).

I’ve spent the week at a “Big Data and the Church” gathering (which explains my blogging lack), and I heard lots of intriguing things.

It also made me realize that many college ministers have access to many thousands (or millions) of dollars worth of research on their mission fields – because their schools are paying for such research. Who’s doing that for churches?

There may be a variety of rules/strings attached to viewing the data your campus compiles. But there’s just as likely to be access that would surprise you – especially because schools seek student continuation… and participation in campus organizations is a key factor in that.

When’s the last time you at least asked? And what’s more important, when’s the last time you spent time with any data you do have access to – even if it’s on the school’s web site – and brainstormed what that could or might or should mean for your college ministry?

This isn’t about finding something profound or shocking. It’s about using data – whatever it is – to prompt discussion. If your campus has a number of Caribbean students, or Kinesiology majors, or junior college transfers, or National Merit Scholars… does that prompt your wheels to turn? At the very least, it’s a thinking exercise, and those can always lead to something.

What if every student who came through your door was important to you until they landed in any college ministry?

This will look different based on context, but it’s an idea: For whatever follow-up you do through student leaders or staff, what if you focused on not only “recruiting” students to your ministry, but also pushing them to find somewhere to land even if it’s not your ministry?

This doesn’t have to be pushy, and it certainly won’t work 100% of the time. But if your student leaders and staff know that this is the ultimate goal, it might still make a difference in how (and how long) you follow up with students.

I’ve written this week about preparing student leaders to welcome new students really well. But one of the biggest opportunities for a great welcome is simply to, somehow, remember new students’ names. If a leader meets a new student at a welcome booth, or the first time they visit Large Group Meeting, etc…. they need to do everything they reasonably can to remember that name for the next time.

Right? Isn’t this pretty easy and fairly important?

So how can that be done? Ah, that’s the trickier notion. I think it begins with raising the value of this effort; if student leaders really believe it’s important, then they’re far more likely to do it.

Well-known “tricks” also help – like the whole “Be sure to say their name in the conversation at least a couple of times” tip, as well as the, “While they’re walking up to you, remind yourself over and over to remember this person’s name” old standby.

But you can also consider other means:

  • Photos, obviously, can be key. So why not have some roaming photographers at your first meeting… followed by a post-meeting student leader collaboration, where leaders help each other remember as many new faces/names as possible?
  • Nametags for the win! Try to squeeze nametags in anytime it’s not too awkward (emphasis on too – I think most times it’s less weird than college ministers think it is). I still think nametags rise to the level of one of the Best Practices in college ministry.
  • Just write the names down of students you meet, then use Facebook to attach faces later, as best you can. Each student leader should leave a recruiting booth of the first Large Group Meeting with a handful of names.
  • Teach your students memory tricks. Sometimes being hospitable simply comes down to using all available means to serve others – and if that’s a name-remembering course, is that an unspiritual use of student leaders’ time? But I also bet there are a few short YouTube videos or Google-able how-tos that would help immediately, too.

We’ve talked this week about highlighting basic doctrinal comparisons and basic methodological distinctives, so that student leaders are prepared to welcome new students to your college ministry – or recruit them in the first place.

One other route that would be worth walking with your student leaders – perhaps simply by way of reminder – is the discussion of differences in personality they will encounter.

College students often aren’t quite at that age where they’ve figured out that everyone is different and/or not like themselves. (They often haven’t gotten very far in realizing how distinct they themselves are in personality or giftings, either.)

Simply reminding students to watch for cues as they speak with students (at the recruiting booth, in the classroom, or when they walk through the doors of your ministry) would go a long way. Is this person before me excited? Shy? Thoughtful? Open? Bold? Timid? Curious? Indecisive? Possibly too decisive? Fun-loving? Loud? Quiet?

If your student leaders aren’t tailoring their welcome and their “pitch,” adjusting tone and even content to serve best each student they’re talking to, then that’s on you, O college minister! They may not have arrived equipped to do that, but you can equip them.

If your student leaders have only gotten deeply involved in your college ministry, then how well do they actually understand your college ministry’s distinctives?

It’s like those adults who say, “When I was little, I thought every family drove to Nebraska every summer!” Your student leaders rarely have any context for describing your collegiate ministry in terms of its differences. They may not know how your programs are different, how you focus especially hard on one-on-one disciplemaking or small groups or interactive worship or whatever. They may not even realize where the theology runs in different streams from other ministries.

And one time knowing these distinctives really matters is when they’re connecting with new students who are checking out your ministry.

I’m not suggesting student leaders should constantly be pointing out comparisons with other ministries. They can highlight distinctives simply by saying, “These are the things our ministry especially focuses on” and leave it at that (most of the time). But it’s not wrong to point out differences, too, especially if they can do it in a way that celebrates other campus groups.

Knowing a campus ministry’s distinctives doesn’t just matter for basic “recruitment” purposes – although that’s useful. It also allows student leaders to help freshmen and other new students process this decision. They can actually disciple that person standing in front of them really well – if they have something to say about the factors that go into their decision.

This can all be done in a Kingdom-minded way, and far from being wrongly competitive can actually help students as they make this life-changing – yes, it’s potentially quite life-changing! – decision about the college ministry they’ll participate in.

(And by the way, if you lead a church-based college ministry, your leaders not only need to know the distinctives of your college ministry, but also the distinctives of your church!)

I thought I’d write this week about ways to prepare a college ministry’s student leaders for those about to walk on your campus or (especially) walk through the doors of your ministry. With some basic readings, discussions, or other resources, those student leaders can be much more prepared to welcome, connect with, and hopefully shepherd the diverse crowd that’s coming… as well as to avoid any unnecessary early debates before people get to know each other.

First thought: Help students understand the varying theological backgrounds of Christians who will try out your ministry.

It certainly seems more common for college ministries to position themselves as non-denominationally as they can… even when they do, in fact, come from a denominational heritage (or even a specific church). And I don’t mean they’re deceiving or baiting-and-switching; they simply don’t choose to wear those particular theological commitments on their sleeves, and they are happy to welcome students from other traditions. (Some do. But most don’t.)

And even truly non-denominational college ministries generally have theological commitments of some sort, in some stream of Christianity that differs from other streams. If your ministry is “a little more Charismatic” (or less), has a Calvinist bent (or bends the other way), focuses on building a diverse membership (or generally attracts certain types of students), focuses heavily on international missions (or doesn’t), etc. … then you too have some specific commitments.

But welcoming all-comers – and even deeply believing they can be shepherded well in your ministry – doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare well for the welcome. Good disciplers get to know their audience.

So how well will your student leaders interact with someone, say, who grew up in a Pentecostal church? A Fundamentalist Baptist one? A heavily Reformed upbringing? A Church of Christ, a very mainline upbringing, or a King James-Only spot? And how well will they interact with any of these people who bring up their own unique theological commitments, or hope to “vet” your ministry through this lens?

You may not need to set student leaders up for success on all of these types of people… or there may be several others you need to consider. You know who comes to your ministry (I hope). But it’s also not hard to prepare a number of FAQs or – even better for this purpose – Talking Points to help student leaders navigate those conversations – and any differences – well. (In fact, a few theologically-minded students could probably knock out this task for you!)

Perhaps your ministry already serves incoming freshmen – a move-in day, for instance. But have you considered other ways to add value for incoming students, to serve them (even when the “return on investment” has more to do with actually serving them than wooing them to your ministry)?

We don’t have to pick one or the other, but hopefully you and your current students do have a bent toward “giveaway” service that doesn’t have to receive something back in proportion to what you’ve given.

So in no particular order, here are some opportunities that come to mind:

  • Campus maps with “the places Freshmen really need to know”
  • Campus tours
  • City tour
  • Tour of churches
  • “Off-the-Map Orientation” session
  • Study skills session
  • Dorm organization session
  • “Catalog” of what you really need in a dorm room (written by students)
  • Session for parents
  • “Rest stop” for students and parents as they move in, do orientation, etc.
  • Any of the above things for parents, or for parents to do with students

Since I’ve been on this “customer experience in college ministry” kick, I’ll offer a Fridea to match:

Prepare FAQs for the important next steps you want incoming students to take.

For instance, do you have a strong means for helping students understand how to get involved in a church (from choosing to joining to participating)? Where’s the step-by-step for small group involvement? Or for leading within the ministry – even if that won’t happen just yet?

The format could vary, but having these items in front of your students both proclaims their value and offers a concrete next step. And (presumably) they could be used year-round, not just at the start of school.

Enter your email address to get new posts by email.

Welcome to Exploring College Ministry

After ministering to college students for 8 years, I've spent the last 6 years trying to help push our whole field forward. This meant, among other things, a yearlong road trip, an e-book (Reaching the Campus Tribes), exploring 250+ campuses, consulting, writing, speaking, and more. I love any opportunity to serve college ministers or others who want to reach college students better. To learn more, explore the header links or the tools below.

Categories

Twitter

Posts from the Past