Nine years ago, I was thrust into the world of campus ministry at a small university that was experiencing a spiritual renewal. Young people were responding to the gospel weekly. I quickly noticed 3 things many of them were searching for: spirituality, community, and impact. I also discovered how the Gospel was the answer for meeting these needs, and that Gospel-centered communities are the perfect environment for students to grow in their faith.
Today, I am leading a collegiate ministry that’s active and growing on over 15 university campuses, called Ignite Movement. At Ignite Movement, we are committed to establishing and advancing vibrant Gospel communities.
Here are 4 practical considerations we have found to be effective in reaching college students.
1. Praying for students by name
Our strategies and plans alone are not enough to reach students. The power of prayer is the key that connects our hearts to God’s heart for individuals. In our efforts to reach students, we must prioritize praying for the great harvest of souls on our college campuses. Our campus communities practice praying for students by name on a weekly basis. Throughout the year, we see most of these students open their hearts to the Gospel and make our community their home. Create a culture of weekly intercession for students on your campus.
2. Gospel Centered Communities
College campuses are arguably one of the most contested spaces in the world! Whether it’s human and civil rights organizations, or political and religious establishments, everyone is fighting for the hearts and minds of this generation. What makes Gospel communities different from all the other competing groups is, well, the Gospel – the saving and transforming power of Jesus! Its relevance in daily living and its counter-cultural nature appeal to believers and non-believers alike. In reaching students aim to create a safe, welcoming, and authentic environment. Preach the Gospel with demonstration, plan and host powerful worship experiences, and cultivate deep conversation among students.
3. Cross-Generational Discipleship
Young people are craving mentorship from older men, women, couples, and families. One-one-one and small group discipleship is where we get vulnerable, build trust, and create accountability with one another. To be effective in reaching and retaining students create a discipleship structure that is multigenerational, vulnerable, and reproducible.
4. Christ-like Action
This generation is wired to make a positive difference in the world and they won’t sit still until they’re a part of something that’s doing just that. Who better modeled love-in-action more than Jesus Christ himself? He met the immediate needs along with the eternal needs of people. Christ-like action puts the love of Jesus on display. It is meeting the felt needs of people while also providing them the opportunity to experience the freedom and joy we have received through Jesus. One of the best ways to reach college students is to create programs and outreach opportunities where they can meet the needs in their city.