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Social Media is one of the best tools we have to continue ministry outside of the hour on Sunday. All the time is a great time to spread the gospel of love and hope, but people are listening now more than ever.
It is vital that we are active on our social media accounts. Post in the feed, go live, share stories, ask questions, and comment on other people’s posts.
Consider the emotional ramifications of social distancing. We’re asking people to isolate themselves and stay home. How can we work against the effects of loneliness, boredom, stress, anxiety, or hopelessness?
We can help by being present. We can help by sharing information that isn’t based in fear, but based in hope.
Mile City Church has a scheduled guided prayer time every morning at 7am for their church members to join.
Brownsbridge Church highlighted a local need
Life Church is posting messages of hope.
Perimeter Church is opening up Instagram for prayer requests
Buckhead Church is producing a podcast to lead us through uncertainty.
Zionsville United Methodist Church created a Facebook Group with scheduled daily devotions.
Crossroads Church is going live with worship on their Facebook page.
Most of us can't leave our homes. We're not allowed to visit friends, go to school, even going to park has it's restrictions. A lot has changed, is still changing, and it's not always easy to process why. Especially when you're a kid.
How can we as a church show up?
We need to step away, for a moment, and consider the bigger picture. Our relationship with Jesus, and being a part of the church, isn't intended to squeeze inside an hour on Sunday. So our content and our resources shouldn't either.
Consider taking your content and spreading it throughout the week. You don't have to eliminate your family experience on the weekends, but give families the ideas and resources to integrate their faith throughout the week too.
Just like you’re taking adult services online, pre-elementary and elementary aged children can also have online experiences. You can take pieces of your lessons, and make them digital. Tell a story, sing a song, it doesn't have to be done perfectly.
If you're not a large church with a video team and the ability to mass produce professional online experiences, we have great news. YOU DON'T HAVE TO. You probably know the names of each of the kids in your ministry, you can facetime them (with parents permission of course). You can hold a zoom call for everyone at once, and connect with them as one group. You can write letters back and forth. Kids love snail mail! Don't feel like you have to put all your eggs in the online experience, there are so many ways to continue the purpose of your ministry.
If you do want an online experience without having to make one yourself, the LifeKids team from LifeChurch is creating full-length video services that include interactive elements, pauses, and worship that can be streamed online. (These experiences will be relevant for children from ages two through six grade.)
These videos have no Life.Church branding and use license-free music. CLICK HERE for LifeKids resources.
We need to shift our focus from re-creating the weekend experience (which so much consists of interacting with other same-age kids) and resourcing parents to include their kids.
Consider creating a Facebook group for your kids ministry to post videos, share updates, and ask questions.
One of the biggest ways you can show up with your families is by providing practical and useful resources for parents.
So many parents are trying to balance working from home, being a teacher, and being a parent. It’s really tough.
Step into their world by becoming a trusted source for quality and helpful information. Ask your parents what they need and either find or create resources to help them during this time. Take the time you would spend preparing rooms or creating lessons and funnel that energy toward resourcing parents.
Here are some ideas of things you can do to resource and equip them through the week:
When the news about COVID-19 began influencing large gatherings, all churches scrambled to figure out what to do when they couldn’t gather in person on Sunday.
That realization quickly extended to other ministries too. We need to consider how we can continue not just our adults services, but also our students. And we need to create new opportunities for students to stay connected.
Students' lives have been significantly affected during this time – nearly every environment in their lives has been disrupted. School, friends, work, and church are all completely different than they were a few weeks ago. If this is tough for you as an adult, it is exponentially more difficult for a teenager.
It’s important to provide a sense of normalcy.
Here’s Kenny Cambpell, co-founder of Stuff You Can Use: A Youth Ministry Community…
To be honest, “adult” church is actually way ahead of kids/student ministry when it comes to live streaming. 99.9% of youth ministries haven’t started live streaming until this week whereas adults have been doing it for years.
Kids/youth ministry online is new. There’s some people like Tj McConahay who have been killing it on social media (TJ specifically is great with TikTok), but those are more like bonus material. Doing kids/youth ministry 100% remote is new territory.
But we’ll be keeping our eyes open and paying attention to what people are doing in the Stuff You Can Use Facebook groups, and sharing all the new ideas that will be popping up in the coming weeks.
Check out the insanely practical ways that churches are using technology for student ministry.
Most of the livestreaming advice that applies to church services will also apply to your student ministry. But there are a few student-specific pointers that will help you serve students better.
Other live streaming options for students include…
If your student ministry has small groups, it’s not a huge jump to shift them online meeting using a tool like Zoom.
It’s one of the more popular video call solutions and has been helping people work remotely for years. But it’s also a great tool for online small groups.
Right now, they are extending their free trial, essentially removing their 40-minute limit. One of the cool features of Zoom is breakout rooms. You could have a large group teaching time and then split students up into their respective small groups.
Relationships, more than programming, have always been the driving force behind student ministry. As great as it is to provide an online service or digital gathering, it might be more important to stay connected throughout the week. This just might be one place where student ministry is ahead of adult ministry.
Brian Lawson shares some great ideas….
GroupMe is a great way to stay connected to students outside of events, even during times when you can gather. Many students already use this for school, sports, or church.
Cameron Pedicord and Jonathan McKee have some great ideas for how you can help students grow spiritually and stay connected during this time.
Here are some good ones:
More than ever, students need caring adults to lean in and facilitate connections. Students already live their lives digitally, but this is a new opportunity for the church, and a new opportunity for your ministry.
Whether you’re a social media aficionado, or just your everyday feed-scroller, by now you know that social media influences today’s world significantly. The Church can engage culture like never before through social media, as messages of Gospel hope can be shared on a global scale with the click of a button. In this post, we’re sharing 9 social media post ideas for churches to engage the culture around you. Safe for Instagram and Twitter feeds alike, these crafty ideas make engaging your church community on social media fun and effective.
Highlighting local shops and eateries is a great way to support your community and nudge your congregation into social spaces! Check out this example from Gwinnett Church, with their #ForGwinnett.
Consider updating your first time guest gift by including a thoughtful list of places and events where your congregation loves to, well… congregate! This is information is helpful for new people and also for your regular attenders. If you know where/how your church spends their time, you can more effectively plan community events to strengthen your church’s culture of community.
Invest in relationships of every stage with this fun-loving take on date night. To share this on Instagram, simply select 3-5 questions to paste into your church’s Instagram story highlights.
A staycation is a vacation, but taken where you currently stay. It’s taking a drive downtown and booking an Airbnb or staying at that cute new hotel near the river. Wherever you stay, it’s a low-maintenance, flight-of-fancy kind of vibe. You can encourage your marrieds to do this quarterly with a church wide “staycation” reminder via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Letting parents know what’s available this summer for their kids is a great way to engage them, and their little ones. The summer calendar from Compass Bible Church does just that. Check out this sweet post that highlights what’s going on, and where to register.
Who doesn’t love a glittery sky? You can head to google for a quick search on which fireworks are most popularly used in your town’s show and then head to social to share what to look for.
An easy win for parents on a budget. Another google search will show you which restaurants in your area cater to kiddos. Be on the lookout for establishments with their own social sites – you’ll be able to retweet or repost and let your people know where to go!
For your physically active attenders, a curated list of the best views in town will provide a great weekend of exploration. Just choose your social platform and share!
Direct your church’s worship towards the true meaning of Christmas by digitizing your advent guide! Grab inspiration from this post by The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas.
Everything you believe about student ministry isn't true.
This isn’t completely your fault.
It’s easy for myths to work their way into what we believe.
Over the years, a variety of student ministry myths have taken hold.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
If you believe these myths, hold on for a moment.
These ideas may work for some churches in the short-term. But these ideas tend not to create lasting results. Besides, it’s nearly impossible for your church to compete with the entertainment industry. No one has enough money for that.
Now that we have that out of the way, it’s natural to think:
What in the world works in reaching students with the gospel today?
Thankfully, what works isn’t earth-shattering, and it won’t cost your church a ton of money.
According to research conducted by The Barna Group, there are two really simple ideas your church should focus on to reach and retain students:
Practically speaking, there are many different ways your church can implement these two principles in your student ministry. Let’s take a look at five ways you can put these ideas into practice.
Student ministry can play a big role in sharing the gospel with students.
In fact, according to a different study by The Barna Group, the majority of Christians in the United States commit their life to Jesus before they turn 18. Here’s what they found:
The current Barna study indicates that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%) and that two out of three born-again Christians (64%) made a commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.
Did you catch that?
The majority of self-identified born-again Christians (64 percent) in the United States placed their faith in Jesus Christ before they turned 18. This means that students between the ages of 13–18 are a prime field to share the gospel.
Before you turn your student ministry into a full-blown evangelistic outreach, hold on.
Unlike your college ministry, your student ministry should possess a two-pronged approach:
Support parents and guardians
We address the first point mentioned above elsewhere, and you can read our thoughts here.
In short, don’t eject parents and guardians from your student ministry, and find ways you can include your church-wide family into the lives of students (more on this in a bit).
With that in mind, as a student leader, you still want to take the gospel to students.
(Keyword is take.)
Many students will be attracted to your student ministry for different reasons, and will attend when a friend invites them or when their family attends your worship services. But at the end of the day, you and your church must also go to students. Let’s dig into what that looks like.
The first place to reach students are schools.
This doesn’t mean you can walk into any school willy-nilly and start a Bible study. That won’t work at all.
To be present at schools, you’ll have to build a relationship with teachers and administrative staff. This isn’t a process you can rush, and keep in mind one thing:
Many schools are under-resourced (in terms of staff and money), and they’ll likely be open to practical support from your church.
Think of practical ways you can be an encouragement and provide tangible support for schools. From providing lunches or coffee to offering your facilities for events, identify ways you can show some love and build relationships.
In time, through your presence, through students from your church in the school, and through connections with parents and guardians, you’ll be able to create awareness for your student ministry.
You’ve reached new students.
You’ve made a ton of new connections.
And now they’ve attended your weekly gathering or event.
So what’s the next step you want them to take?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, then everything you do to reach students will be a bust because you don’t have a practical way to retain them.
Here’s the deal:
Engaging new students who attend whatever you organized sets the stage for the remainder of their experience. If you make it easy for them to take a meaningful next step with your ministry, you’re in a much better position to share the gospel and get them plugged into your church. Miss following up or providing them with a tangible next step, and you run the risk of losing them.
The next steps you provide can vary. But remember, the two things you need to focus on is building relationships and making disciples.
Next, we’ll look at a few ways churches are finding success in accomplishing these goals.
At first, there are two next steps you want to encourage students to take:
Does your church currently run a student ministry?
Then there’s a good chance you’re already running a weekly meeting.
Planning on launching a student ministry?
Then consider organizing a weekly meeting for your students.
For your weekly meeting, it’s ideal if it's something Christian and non-Christian students can attend. Depending upon your church, this idea may make some parents or guardians uncomfortable. So be prepared to cast a vision your church members can get behind, and be ready if some families don’t catch the vision.
In reaching students, this is the first step they will take in getting connected with your student ministry. A weekly meeting requires little commitment; it’s a great opportunity to experience your student ministry; and students will have an opportunity to hear the gospel and meet other students and members of your church.
After leading students to attend your weekly meeting, another step churches have found helpful is to provide small groups.
Providing small groups for your students is one way you can lead people from a weekly (larger group) meeting to a small setting where they can meet people one-on-one and study the Bible together.
A student ministry small group does two really big things:
Both of these ideas are key to building relationships with students and making disciples. Basically, the more people students meet throughout your entire church—the better.
Want to make your student ministry stick?
Get students to stay around by encouraging them to volunteer.
When talking about volunteering, I’m not necessarily talking about leading other students or your children’s ministry, and I’m not talking about cleaning up after your service either. There are many roles students can fill that require more than being a warm body in a pew.
For example, students can volunteer in strategic positions, like:
In your student ministry, encourage students to get involved in your church. There’s no need for them to sit on their hands when they can use them to serve.
That’s not all.
There’s another way you can encourage students to serve:
Through domestic and international mission trips.
Mission trips—even if they’re domestic—are a great way to give students a taste of serving. A mission trip is a short-term commitment that can be a long-term influence in students’ lives for Christ.
I hope this truth brings a breath of fresh air:
Creating an exciting, powerful, and world-changing student ministry doesn’t require a multi-million dollar budget—it primarily requires building relationships and making disciples. In your church, how this looks will be different based upon your location, demographics, budget, and staff or volunteers. When praying through how to reach and retain students, use these principles and ideas I shared above. But be open to doing whatever it takes to build relationships and help students to follow Jesus.
Starting a college ministry is arguably the best way to reach people for Christ.
Think about it.
Colleges are one of the remaining institutions in the United States where a large group of people gathers together on a regular basis throughout the year. From classes to clubs to fraternities, college students spend most of their time on or around campus.
Know what else?
Many college students are asking tough questions about faith. They’re being introduced to new ideas, and they want to know what they believe and why they believe it. This is an ideal time to share the gospel and make disciples.
Even though colleges boast a potential huge harvest (Matt 9:35–38), starting a college ministry isn’t easy. It takes faith, prayer, and a whole lot of time.
If you’re not discouraged, hang tight.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 6 steps you can take to launch a college ministry, build relationships with students, and make new disciples.
Let’s dive in!
Starting a college ministry isn’t like starting another ministry in your church.
It’s not a Bible study.
It’s not a small group.
It’s not just another hangout.
Will your college ministry include some of these components?
But that’s missing the point.
Here’s what I want to stress:
A college ministry is primarily an outreach ministry.
Starting a college ministry is not only about creating a program for the college students in your church to join—it’s about launching your church into the life of the college or university in your town.
Possessing a missionary mindset is crucial to whether you can successfully launch a college ministry. Starting a college ministry without a missionary mindset would be like starting a cross-country road trip with a half a tank of gas—you’re not going to make it.
As a missionary to a college or university, there are two main things you need to do:
Before moving forward, you need to know who you’re going to reach before you can know what you need to do to reach them. Also, during this process, you’ll be better able to explore your calling to know if God is leading your church to start a college ministry.
The first thing you need to do is to get to know the college or university.
To get to know the college you want to reach, you’ll need to gather some basic information.
A lot of this information you can gather online or by checking out the college on social media.
But you’ll be able to learn so much more when you explore the campus.
Plan on spending time on campus.
Take more than one day to walk around, observe, and ask questions. If possible, connect with professors or staff members of the college or university to get their input.
While you’re getting to know the school, you’ll also want to get to know the students.
Getting to know what types of students attend the college or university in general, as well as meeting students in person will help you to clarify how to best reach them with the gospel.
Here are some questions you can ask:
As with the school, you can get a good idea about most of this information online. But you’ll receive so much more clarity and insight, and get a better feel for the overall vibe of the school and students by being physically present on the campus.
While you’re gathering intel, start to think through what objections to the gospel you’ll encounter or ways you can best connect with students on campus. Keeping a running log of this information will help you create an outreach plan, if you believe the Lord is calling you to start a college ministry.
Like any ministry in your church, college ministry isn’t something you want to do alone.
You must build a leadership team from the beginning.
The team you build should include two key ingredients:
Before exploring these two groups in detail, I encourage you to think through the size of your leadership team. To get started, you don’t need a huge number of people. Gathering 3–5 college students and 3–5 church members should be sufficient to create a solid core team.
Reaching a college without the help of college students is really … difficult.
As you prepare to launch a college ministry, I’d strongly advise you to include your church’s college students from the get-go. The college students in your church have relationships with other students, access to the campus and school events, and they will be a tremendous blessing to your ministry.
Do you have a few dozen college students in your church?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but not every one of them can be on your leadership team. That’s way too many cooks in the kitchen.
Before narrowing down who you’d like to invite onto the leadership team of the college ministry, pray and observe who are natural leaders. If college students are already serving in your church, then that’s a good indication they’re open to taking on more responsibility.
Here’s another idea:
Host a night for all of the college students to meet and talk about the college ministry.
Give them an opportunity to dream. Hear their hearts. Listen to the ideas they have to share.
Also, during this evening, see if anyone comes forward as a clear leader of the group. Pay attention to what everyone has to say and see if there are individuals in the group whose peers naturally gravitate toward as a leader.
One last word of advice:
Don’t treat the students on your team like … students. Said another way, don’t give them a voice and then not really count their vote or opinion (you know what I’m talking about). God can work through every single member of your leadership team—including your college students.
The second group of people you want to include on your college ministry leadership team are church members. From this group, be sure to include individual adults and couples.
Your church members can provide support, host students and events, and take part in whatever tactics you put together. Like any other ministry in your church, be sure the church members you invite express an interest and have a calling for this type of ministry.
Ready to recruit your leadership team?
There are two things you should do to make it easier:
For anyone serving on your leadership team, make sure to clarify their expectations. Let them know what they should focus on. Give them a handful of things they’ll be responsible for.
Letting your volunteer leaders know up-front what’s expected will help them to make better decisions.
What is more, set a date for how long you’d like for them to commit. For example, do you want them to commit for the fall and spring semester, and maybe one event over the summer?
Here’s the deal:
When volunteers know there’s a deadline to their commitment, then they’ll feel so much more comfortable accepting your offer.
Need more help developing your leaders?
Take the time to develop a leadership pipeline in your church.
Prayer is so much more than a rote activity.
Prayer is the engine that runs your church.
As you explore starting a college ministry, first commit to praying.
At first, you don’t have to launch a church-wide prayer campaign. The best thing to do as a church leader is to pray yourself, and then invite your church’s leadership and others who may be interested in starting a college ministry to join you.
After you launch a college ministry, the way you approach prayer will change.
You’ll want to continually pray for the college or university, the students (in general and by name), your leadership team, and for your church.
Here are three ways you can incorporate prayer:
When encouraging your church to pray, be sure to add your college ministry to whatever prayer lists you currently have available. Also, if your church hosts prayer meetings, add time into your meeting to pray for your college ministry.
Another idea to consider is building a prayer team. When it comes to your college ministry, many people may not be able to physically participate in your work. But they may be able and willing to join you in your spiritual work through prayer. Find someone in your church to lead this prayer team, and provide him or her with updates and prayer requests.
At times on social media, share prayer requests or let your social media followers know how they can join you in prayer. One easy way to do this is when you share updates about your ministry.
As a missionary to a college campus, God calls you to make disciples.
There are many ways you can connect with new college students and share the gospel.
But there’s one thing you can’t afford to miss:
Before thinking through events, programs, and Bible studies, you and your team will need to clarify how you’ll build relationships with college students.
Here’s the deal:
According to one study and confirmed by many others, most college students (64%) feel lonely. But like the vast majority of people, most of these college students will not be open to hearing what you have to say if they don’t know you.
There’s a time or place for hard-hitting evangelistic tactics. But in general, that’s not going to work on a college campus. To reach college students, you have to get to know college students.
Practically speaking, be slow to share the gospel and be quick to build relationships. It’s okay to take your time with this process. In other words, don’t focus on building a program or hosting a one-time event. Instead, focus on building long-term relationships with students.
To be honest, there’s nothing too fancy about this process. All it requires is to be present and patient.
In your college ministry, there’s a good chance that most of your time will be spent hanging out with students, and that’s okay. This tactic may not be looked upon favorably by people who are not involved in your ministry. But building relationships is vital to the livelihood of your college ministry.
Practically speaking, plan on carving out a significant portion of your schedule to be present on campus. It’s also a good idea to empower your leadership team and others to spend time building relationships too.
Now that we’ve settled this point, let’s turn our attention to reaching and discipling students.
There’s at least one good thing about starting a college ministry:
You have a ready-made calendar to work with.
When launching your organized events, it’s best to work with the school's calendar. For instance, you don't want to launch a big event during spring break—no one is going to be on campus.
As you think through your plans, work your way into the natural rhythms of the school.
There are two ways you can do this:
During the week, life at the college or university you want to reach has natural ebbs and flows. In other words, it’s best to swim with the tide instead of launching something that goes against the rhythms already in place. As a missionary, your goal is to work yourself into the life of the campus—not against it.
For example, you’ll have to work around class schedules, time students tend to hang out during the day, or sporting events, programs, or clubs taking place during the week. Instead of competing with popular events or scheduling a Bible study during normal class time, find a way to work whatever you do into the life of the school.
Three additional big items you want to be aware of are fall, spring, and summer semesters.
As you think through your plans, be sure not to launch big events during midterms or finals. Instead, think about providing food and drinks for students or a place to refresh themselves during this time.
When it comes to the different semesters, keep in mind that activities on campus ramp up toward the beginning of the semester, but life on campus tends to die down toward the end.
Finally, during the summer semester or break, consider hosting events or mission trips to encourage college students to stay connected or serve others. Organizing short-term trips can be a great way to build community and maintain your momentum going into the next fall semester.
Your college ministry will never “arrive.”
There’s not a destination you’ll reach when you know your work is done.
As you build a team, pray, and reach college students, you can learn a ton along the way and God may lead you to do something you didn’t originally plan on.
After you start your college ministry, plan on gathering your team together to evaluate how things are going after the fall and spring semester. This doesn’t mean you can’t address things in between these times. But it’s best to set a time to evaluate (and celebrate) your work.
Here are some questions you can ask to evaluate your ministry:
These questions will help you to get started.
To put together a more thorough evaluation, our team created an evaluation tool you can use. It’s a part of the resource library we created at Church Fuel. This form will help you to evaluate every nook and cranny of your college ministry, and it will also provide you with a list of topics for conversations.
During your evaluations, make it a point to celebrate your wins. From meeting new students to starting a small group, provide everyone on your leadership team an opportunity to share one or more recent wins, as well as how he or she is growing from the experience.
If you have a college or university in your town, consider starting a college ministry.
If your church isn’t in a great spot to launch a new ministry, consider partnering with another church in your community or an organization that is already active on campus.
There are countless college students who need to hear the gospel. Pray and see if God is calling you to be the one to share the good news.