by Brad Baker
Perhaps you’ve wondered why there’s been a 32 day gap between our last blog post and today. Granted the Holidays played into it, but the real reason for the silence is all the work going into the 2.0 version of CollegeMinistry.com. We are just a few short hours away from launching the brand new site! This collaborative project has been in the works for months now and the anticipation we feel in palpable. From a fresh mission and vision, to countless unique features the new site is sure to engage a wide variety of college ministry leaders. Seeing that we are so close to the launch I won’t spoil it by telling you everything about site. However I can’t resist giving you a little preview.
First, the new mission and vision is simple and engaging.
Our Mission: To serve and strengthen existing college ministries and those that lead them.
Our Vision: To start hundreds of new college ministries in locations where they’re desperately needed. Our desire is that CollegeMinistry.com is less of a site you visit and more of movement you fully buy into.
Second, the leadership is shared, open and collaborative. There are 9 “Official Contributors” who love learning alongside fellow college ministry leaders like you. Moreover CollegeMinistry.com invites everyone to lead by sharing what they’ve learned and created. Collaboration, co-creating and connecting are at the heart of everything we aim to do.
Third, the new features provide an online environment unlike any presently available for college ministry leaders. For far too long college ministry has played second fiddle to Jr. High and High School. The desire for strong churched and campus based college ministries is reflected in how much time, energy and thought has been put into the new site. Here are just a few of the features you’ll be able to enjoy.
-The first ever job bank and resrouce store designated exclusively for college ministry.
-A monthly subscription that gives you access to an online collaborator’s form, resource bank that’s updated weekly and a College Ministry Tool Kit that’s sent to your doorstep at the start of each semester.
-Subscribers also enjoy free tickets to an annual CM training event held in Southern California, personal coaching from an Official Contributor and entry into an amazing monthly giveaway that’s sure to make you smile
Ok I’ve said way too much. Before your head hits the pillow tonight the new site will launch. The next time you type www.collegeministry.com into your address bar you’re in for a totally new experience.
We feel so honored and excited to be partner with you to reach and disciple the Millennial Generation.
By Lisa Birle
I might be the only person on earth who actually loves writing Christmas cards. (If I have your address, chances are you’re getting one—You’re welcome!) As I was writing, addressing, and stamping away, I came across the name of a student who I met earlier this year who is relatively new to our community. Our first time getting to know each other was the result of an e-mail she had sent our team…an e-mail that bled with a heart aching for truth. This student had grown up going to church but had hit a transition in her faith. This year, she wrestled through claiming her personal faith as her own, and not just believing things because her parents did.
This student and I met up at Starbucks early in the summer and had a great conversation. She asked such great, legitimate questions about whether God is real, how we can believe him, and explained her frustrations and confusion about feeling him and knowing him. We had a great chat and shared some stories, and I gave her some action steps—to continue to pray, to continue to attend a small group, and to ask someone on staff two questions every week about God. Our team also sent her some books. What I wanted to encourage her to do was be in constant dialogue with God, with community (her small group), and with someone who could give her answers to her tough questions (Crave staff), and to know that our team and community were here to love and support her through her doubts.
Fast-forward to December. This student regularly serves at our weekly service and never misses a week. She attended our fall retreat which focused on hearing God’s voice in our lives and responding to Him. She heard God’s heart cry out to her—and she responded. She was baptized after the retreat and God has developed a passion in her for working with children. I have seen a softened heart and attitude in her, a desire to continue to draw hear to him, and so much more joy radiating from her when I see her now. She’s such an important part of our community and such an encouragement to me personally.
The reason I thought about this student as I was writing Christmas cards is because this is her first Christmas having a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Christ. I am so excited for her to experience his true joy and peace as she celebrates him this Christmas, and I thank God for the many students who can celebrate Christmas this year—for the first time, in a sense—understanding how deeply God’s heart cares for them and how much they are cherished. Our God is mighty to save! What a life-changing truth to be walking in as Christmas approaches…what a reason to rejoice!
Take some time to think about what God has done through your ministry this year. Which students know him this Christmas who didn’t know him last Christmas? I’m so grateful to have seen the journey that God brought this particular student through this year…and even more excited to see her continue to understand his rescuing love and amazing purposes for her life. Christmas is truly such a profound time of celebration—for the gift that God gave us, and for those who receive that gift. As we head to our staff Christmas parties, fuss over gift wrapping and decorating, and stress about services, let us take time to be in awe and thank God for the hope that the birth of Christ illuminates the world with on Christmas.
Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life." John 8:12
May your Christmas be merry and bright.
by Lisa Birle
Campus outreach can be a tricky thing.
How do you stand out among the other organizations and clubs on campus as one that's different? How do you get students to care about what you care about? How do you get them to care at all? How do you strike up a conversation with someone who will do anything to avoid being given another rave card or flier or being asked to sign yet another petition about lunch meat or parking lots?
Today, our team hung out at a local community college campus. But we didn't act like a club. We didn't have fliers or surveys or petitions. We weren't wearing matching shirts or hanging banners. We just showed up the first morning of finals week and asked students if they needed anything for their exams. No e-mail list or survey questions about where they might fall on the faith spectrum. No catch. In fact, all we had was a table full of the necessitites of these students' weeks—scantrons, freshly sharpened #2 pencils, and blue books (which are, in fact, now green—because colleges are much more environmentally conscious than when I went to school). We simply asked students walking by what they needed and they were able to grab sheets and books and pencils for their tests. And their responses were everything from joyful to suspicious. “No catch?” “What do I have to sign?” “Wait...it's free?” “Seriously?!” “Why are you guys doing this?” And all we would say is, “Who wants to buy scantrons? We just want to help you out and make your day a little easier!” They were flabbergasted and even a little suspect. (Some students purchased their scantrons rather than trust our shady-looking table.)
So many times, clubs and booths and banners and rave cards instantly deter students from their organization or club. Students will fake talking on their phones, quickly put in their earbuds, or grab a friend to chat with so they won't have to listen. Free scantrons met a practical need for them this morning, without asking for anything in return. We didn't say anything about Jesus. We didn't say we were a church. We didn't say anything about God. We just wanted to show these students that we care about them and wanted to show it in a practical way. The strategy here was to leave a positive impression...“Hey, remember those people giving out free scantrons? That was awesome.” We want to show these students that regardless of who they are and what they believe, they matter to us and we appreciate them. They'll see us next semester when we do the same thing (I'm thinking we even add some donuts to the mix...they're just as much a necessity as a pencil during final exams, after all...), and they'll ask us again why we're there.
And when we tell them, they might take out their earbuds and put down their phones with ease and be a little more willing to listen...
by Brad Baker
An integrated college ministry is a rare breed these days. We’ve seen countless young adult ministries take shape with little, if any, meaningful connection with the church as a whole. They function largely as an island and then wonder why students aren’t making the transition to ‘big church’ when they finish college. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s much easier in most cases to build a college ministry without worrying about the coming transition every student will inevitably face. However, we do them a huge disservice if we don’t paint our ministry into the context of the overall church. If we don’t, the students in our ministry won’t get the importance of assimilating. I know far too many friends in their late twenties who stopped going to church once they felt too old for college ministry. They got attached (in an unhealthy way) to how the ministry felt and catered to their needs. In an effort to curb this trend, I have been implementing the following strategies with some modest success.
#1. Identify Key Church-wide Initiatives
HIV/AIDS and the country of Rwanda have and continue to be large areas of emphasis for our church. As a result, we do whatever we can to tie the hearts of our students to what God is doing in those areas. When students start serving in those areas, two things happen. First, their hearts connect with the vision God has given the senior pastor. Second, they naturally connect with the older demographic and sense that they are part of something larger.
#2. Think Gender Connection
If at all possible, we plan our calendar around some of the larger gatherings for men and women. We love to take our young men on the Men’s Ministry retreats. We love to encourage our young ladies to join a mid-week Bible study full of young moms and older ladies.
#3. Promote Serving Opportunities Outside the College Ministry
College pastors should pursue other ministries in the church. They should all be given time to recruit college students to serve in their areas at specific times throughout the year. Our students serving in the larger congregation is huge when it comes to assimilation.
#4. Invite the other Pastors
The senior pastor should be invited to attend and speak (if doable) a few times a year. Look for a way to honor them and express appreciation in front of your students.
#5. Re-examine the Goal
At the end of the day, college ministry has a lot to do with sending people out. We all know the college-age are a highly transient group of people. In a perfect world, we’d love for them to be a part of our church from now until they’re ninety. However, the vast majority will move away. Some will teach English in Japan. Others will get married and move to live near parents. The point is not that they assimilate into ‘our’ church but rather ‘a’ church.
As long as age-based ministries exist, there will be a need for an affective assimilation and transition plans.
by Brett Prouty
There are some truths that cartoons can convey better than anything else. One of my favorites is when some catastrophic event is about to take place (a dam breaking, a nuclear plant about to explode) and there is the one hero who knows how to save the lives of everyone. The hero is completely focused on his quest. Scene after scene, the intrepid hero marches across raging rivers, battling obstacles great and small, avoiding anything that might take his attention from saving everyone else from impending doom. There is nothing that can distract him from his purpose until… ooh a butterfly. It’s all downhill from there.
The same thing can happen in our ministry every week. We are having a great worship service. The message is really connecting with our students, the worship is powerful and students are responding, and then there is that one moment, that one little butterfly that completely distracts them. It could be something small like a typo in a slide or comment during announcements or the message that makes students think about anything but your intended purpose. Then there is the other side of the spectrum. The students who are there looking for an excuse to checkout or become distracted, waiting for you to make one little mistake so they can justify not paying attention.
Our audience is coming to church from so many different places, so it’s easy to put most of our effort toward engaging students without taking any time to ask ourselves what might cause them to disengage. While there is no way to eliminate everything that might be a distraction, here are three ideas to help you keep it from looking like the monarch butterfly migration.
#1. Look at the simple- Often, the things that can cause students to disengage are minor things like typos on slides and handouts. This is one that is a huge distraction for me. If there is a typo, especially during worship, my focus is no longer on singing; it’s on seeing if anything else is misspelled. Even something as simple as a student not getting greeted as they come in can be the difference between them paying attention or not.
#2. Look at the big picture- Sometimes bigger things can be distractions as well. Stage or graphic designs that are too busy, an overly animated band member standing center stage or an endless list of announcements are all things that can cause people to lose focus. Add up all the little distractions, and students might spend the entire set of worship wondering if that guitarist is going to end up with a cord wrapped around his feet.
#3. Look back-Take time look back after a service to see if there were things that distracted your audience. This doesn’t mean that you have to nitpick every single detail, but it does mean that you should see if there was anything that detracted from your intended purpose. The easiest way to do this is to ask the other leaders in your ministry. If something distracted them, chances are it distracted your students as well. This doesn’t have to be a huge meeting. It can be as simple as a 2-3 minute conversation with few people.
It’s impossible to avoid everything that might be a distraction (If we did we would end up with services so dull that students would bring things to distract themselves). By removing some of the more obvious distractions, we might find that our efforts to engage students are more successful.
by Josh Pease
We’ve all been there.
You’re sitting on a plane, and the helpful flight attendants are helpfully helping you understand how to survive a water landing.And what are you doing? You’re completely tuning them out. No, don’t lie, you totally are. You’re reading your book, or actively ignoring the person next to you, or stealth-listening to your iPod.
Think about this for a moment. These people have life-saving information – information VITAL to everyone’s survival – and it all couldn’t be less interesting. Why? Because you’re convinced you already know everything you need to know, and that they have nothing useful to teach you.
Those of us who speak about Jesus have this same obstacle every single week. We’re standing before a crowd and speaking for 30-40 minutesand in that time we are communicating nothing less than the hope of Jesus – a life that matters now, a life with God for all eternity.
But the mistake we often make is the same mistake the flight attendants make: presuming your audience will listen because 1) this is important to you and 2) hey, EVERYONE wants to know this stuff, right?
Unfortunately, no. Most of our audience is coming to church with varying degrees of interest. There are some who are passionate about Jesus and desperate to learn. You could be doing a verse by verse exegesis of the Book of Judithand they’d be fascinated.
But the truth is most people aren’t absolutely convinced they want to listen to you. If we’re honest, WE aren’t always convinced WE want to listen when OTHER people preach. So how do we make sure that we don’t end up like a flight attendant? We tell stories.
By that I don’t mean “tell a bunch of anecdotes.” What I’m suggesting is that we make our entire messages a story – one that has a beginning, middle and end. My plan is to write a few posts about how to do this over the next few weeks, but to wrap up this one, here is one thought on how to begin communicating a message as a story:
EXPOSE THE GAP – the mistake too many communicators make is to rush to God’s solution before explaining there is even a problem. Going back to the flight attendant analogy, imagine if one of them said “we know you’ve seen this a thousand times, but pay attention because we found out our OLD way of doing things causes people to die.” No one on that plane would miss a word. Why? Because the flight attendant exposed a gap. She let people know“there’s something you don’t know … but you are going to want to.”
Too often speakers say “today we’re going to talk on what God says about …” This is the surest way to shut off someone’s brain, because your audience already thinks they know where you’re going. Instead, expose the gap. If you’re talking about sex, talk about how hard it is to resist sexual temptation, and how impossible that seems. If you’re telling people the good news of Jesus, spend a LOT of time pointing out how broken and painful a world we live in. This happens up front, within the first 5-8 minutes.
If Jesus said it, that means we need to hear it. But your audience doesn’t believe that right away, so prove it to them.
When we help people see “you’re currently here, but you want to be here” we’ve introduced a dramatic tension into their lives. We’ve said “you live in constant stress and anxiety … is there any way out of that?”Or, “you’ve been living your life pursuing money for a long time, but you’re not any happier … could there be another way?”
And by exposing a pre-existing conflict in their lives, we’ve primed them to go on a journey toward resolution. We’ve hooked them into the story of their life, and how Jesus could radically transform them.
And after that, they won’t want to miss one word you say.
Step 1: forget the person you’re with. SAVE YOURSELF! I mean, I know it makes sense, but no matter how you say it that’s some cold logic right there.
You know who you are.
 Or if it’s me, I will magically, and without trying, go 42-46 minutes every single time. It’s weird.
 I wonder if anyone has ever taught exegetically through an apocryphal book?
 I should mention here that I owe a large debt to both Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Made to Stick by the Chip and Dan Heath. Both books are insanely good.
by Brad Baker
Para-church organizations spring up wherever there is a void of local church leadership and initiative. They are sometimes led by people who are tired of dealing with the dysfunction of local congregations and church leaders. Although I sympathize on many levels, college ministries would ideally form and be sustained in and through local congregations. I could easily argue the validity of this position, but I’d much rather discuss where we go from here since we are way below what I’d consider ‘ideal’. Campus-based college ministries aren’t going anywhere and neither is the local church, so we better figure out how to do more than just ‘play nice’ with each other. In particular how do campus based ministries (*BCM, Cru, CO, XA, CCO, GC, IV, NAV, RUF, VCM) and church-based college ministries work together to more effectively reach and disciple students.
Here are a few things I’ve learned (mostly the hard way)…
#1. Do What it Takes to Collaborate
Working in isolation feels safer and more affective at times but in reality it violates the fundamental truth that we are one body. I look back at my time as a college pastor of a large ministry and grieve that I didn’t make more of an effort to work in concert with campus ministries. If you’re looking for a place to start, commit to one lunch a week during the spring semester with the various campus ministries or college pastors in your area. Collaboration works best when it flows naturally from a trusting friendship. Typically fear keeps campus and local church leaders from working together. They fear ‘losing’ their students to another ministry. How ironic that at schools boasting 30K plus attendance, ministry leaders would fear losing their students. Shouldn’t the focus be on reaching the lost not protecting the Christians from other Christians. In other cases college ministries won’t collaborate with others because they can’t envision what that would look like. Vision flows from relationships with God and others. So the starting place is prayer and spending time with potential ministry partners. The value of collaboration is undeniable and therefore it’s worth the time, energy and sacrifice needed to make it happen. Don’t allow your ministry to operate in a silo!
#2. Re-evaluate the End Game
Far too many ministries master meeting students “where they are” but forget to think much about where they want to take them after the connection is made. Self-feeding, local-church committed and quickly advancing to adulthood (relationally, emotionally and spiritually) are a few of the end
goals I work towards. Keep in mind they won’t be in your college ministry long and you must do everything you can to integrate them into a local church. Isn’t that where we want them to put down long-term roots? This is particularly vital if you're a campus-based ministry leader and tend to operate somewhat isolated from the local congregations around you. If they fall in love with your campus ministry instead of the local church you’ve done them a huge disservice. After graduation they will scratch their heads wondering what happened to their cozy little community and context for spiritual renewal/growth. All campus based organization should make it a top priority to connect as many college students as possible to a healthy local church. If you’re a college ministry leader in a local church maybe you can be the one to plant this idea in your friend’s mind who runs the BSU or Cru on your campus.
#3. Honestly Look at Your Weakness and Their Strengths
Campus based ministries typically understand the campus better than local church leaders. They
are in touch with their campuses unique culture like no one else. If campuses should be thought of as large cluster of small tribes then campus ministries could be seen as long-term missionaries to those tribes. This means local church leaders need to lean on their insights. Campus ministries have typically been working on any given campus longer than the churches that surround it. In addition campus ministries are typically more missional in the way they think about the campus and its inhabitants. In contrast churches tend to be more attractional when it comes to connecting with students. In my mind both are valid but should be valued equally. When campus ministries and local churches partner together this balance is usually reached much sooner. In terms of what they have to offer to students, local churches typically have a broader scope than campus-based ministries. For example Cru may or may not be able to help cover the cost associated with a troubled student seeing a professional counselor. Or the BSU may or may not be able to offer the men in their group consistent connection with old more mature men who can mentor them on an ongoing basis. In contrast the local congregations probably could. The ideas above are generalizations at best and hypothetical at worst. But the fact remains, campus ministries have something to offer the college ministries of local churches and vice versa.
At the end of the day college students belong in local churches not campus ministries that they will be forced to leave upon graduation. However campus ministries are strategically placed and God uses them to do great things. We must do whatever it takes to work together. We must focus on what we agree upon (students need Jesus) and agree to push our differences to the side for the glory of God and his family; the church.
*Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM), Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru), Campus Outreach (CO),Chi Alpha (XA), Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO), Great Commission Ministries (GCM), Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (IV), Navigators (Navs), Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), Victory Campus Ministries (VCM)
by Joy Hurlow
Most of the time we aren’t naïve enough to say the five words, “It won’t happen to me…”, but more often than not we live like we believe the phrase is true. Last year nearly a million people ages 15-24 believed that they would not become HIV positive; yet they were wrong.*
Although HIV & AIDS have been around for 30 years, many people still do not know the basic facts about how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented. HIV is transmitted through sexual contact, needle sharing, childbirth, breastfeeding, and blood transfusions.
Generally sex, drug use and disease are not topics that are talked about in church; but this must change. Millions of people are becoming positive with a preventable disease that will take their lives if they do not have access to live saving medications (ARV’s). Even when people do receive the costly medications, the side effects are brutal and often leave people feeling very weak.
Churches are in the best position to come alongside and care for people who are sick. Jesus spent much of His ministry showing us how to be with people who are hurting and sick. He didn’t only talk about caring for the sick– he went into their home and healed people, he stopped and cared for them on the road, and he paused while he was teaching and met the real physical needs of people. Jesus did this to show us how he wants us to interact with people who are sick and hurting as well.
In addition to caring for people who are sick, churches have the ideal role to talk with people about saving sex for marriage, teach men and boys to respect women and children, offer drug and recovery support, and talk about partnering with one person for life through marriage. While each one of these areas is difficult, it becomes easier when there is the loving support of others who are also committed to ending AIDS.
While it is true that, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” (Lao-tzu) it can often be hard to know what first step to take. One really practical first step churches can take in helping end AIDS is to encourage people to get tested for HIV. The only way for people to know their HIV status is to be tested. Church members can become certified HIV testers, or churches can partner with local HIV testing sites, and can hold testing events at their local church. Churches can also encourage people to go together to a local testing site and get tested together. (To find a local HIV testing site go to www.hivtest.org and enter your zip code.)
We really can live in a world that is free of AIDS where people will no longer need to naively believe HIV & AIDS won’t happen to them; it won’t happen to them because, if we all work together, HIV & AIDS will become a disease that has been eradicated!
Watch this video about two college guys who went to get tested for HIV.
*Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation – Report on Global AIDS Epidemic, November 2011
by Lisa Birle
I just finished Drew Dyck’s book “Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith…and How to Bring Them Back.” I’ve been involved in college ministry for eight years, and I recognize that young adults are continually leaving their faith, but this book explored why they do. In fact, “Generation Ex-Christian” is the first research-based book that thoroughly explains the whys of leavers. I had a hard time putting it down, because as I read, names of friends who have walked away from church or their faith on some level or another kept entering my mind. This book broke my heart for college students who once knew and loved Jesus, but for one reason or another, left him in the dust as they transitioned from youth to adulthood.
The book is well-organized and easy to read. The contents page easily shows how the book is broken down into six main sections; each section highlights a type of leaver and explores the thought, pain, childhood experiences, sin, or confusion that lead them to decide to dismiss Jesus. Dyck identifies six main categories of leavers—postmodern leavers, recoilers, modern leavers, neo-pagans, rebels, and drifters. Each section ends with practical steps that we can take to speak to, reach, and engage with leavers. Armed with an understanding of why they left better equips us to address their specific concerns.
For example, I now realize that I should avoid arguing the legitimacy of the gospel based on reason with a postmodern leaver, because they don’t believe reason is the way to truth. Instead, I can build trust with them by inviting them to serve with me, because many of them are socially conscious and very concerned for the marginalized and poor.
I now understand that recoilers have often tragically suffered abuse in the name of God, and when they felt wounded by God, decided he didn’t exist. They also were hurt mostly in the context of relationships, so healing must also come in that context. My best approach in caring for them is to empathize, not argue, and to point them to the cross, a symbol and promise to all who suffer that even the worst injustice can lead to redemption.
I see that modern leavers abandon their faith for intellectual reasons. They love to debate, they love objective truth, and they love rational reasoning. To reach modern leavers, I must do my homework and be prepared to give good answers to questions about my faith, listening to them and asking questions about their worldview in the process.
I understand that Wiccans (or neo-pagans), have been heavily influenced by feminism, the environmental movement, secularism, and consumerism. They are also enraged that Christians spread false rumors about them—that they worship Satan and sacrifice animals. So I should communicate a familiarity with their beliefs, demonstrate a care for creation and the environment, and highlight women in ministry as we share spiritual experiences.
I know that moral rebels just want to party and have a good time, and spiritual rebels don’t want anything to do with submitting to an all-powerful deity. Rebels value their autonomy. I see that underneath their rebellious behavior is a thirst for adventure and purpose, and I can show them the adventure, sacrifice, and risk of the gospel while demonstrating the freedom that comes from serving God.
I now recognize that some young people just drift from their faith gradually, almost imperceptibly. Drifters learn spiritual truth through atmosphere, so I know to invite them to places where they’ll hear the gospel and be around other Christians.
Figuring out why young people walk away from Jesus is key to learning how to effectively adapt our approach to connecting with them. After all, Jesus never approached two people the same way. The gospel doesn’t change, but the way we share it should. This book has given me a ton of insight into understanding why so many young people are walking away from a God they once knew, loved, and worshiped. It’s also helped me feel equipped as someone involved in college ministry to engage and care for those who have stepped away from their faith more effectively.
I also appreciated that Dyck pointed out the importance of prayer in this book. “I’m convinced we can give our loved ones who have strayed no greater gift than time spent in the presence of God on their behalf. Please, ramble, cry, rage—but don’t stop.” When we pray for prodigals, we are praying according to God’s will.
Dyck’s introduction of the book includes speaking about the parable of the sheep, and that the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to search for the one that wandered away. It’s a great illustration of God’s heart for the lost…for those who have wandered from him. This book will help us in our pursuit of those lost sheep. More than sheep, the book is about the Good Shepherd, and that ultimately it is HE who deeply cares for them and longs for their return. May we search for those wandering sheep who are dotting our communities, and take heart knowing that the Good Shepherd is already searching for them…
by LISA BIRLE
We are blessed to be connected in a church community, but do you remember how scary and awkward that process might have been? Not knowing anyone, wondering if you belong? We must remember that not everyone who comes to our ministry is connected or even has meaningful, loving relationships in their lives. Because of this, we must be intentional with listening to the Holy Spirit's nudgings that are telling us to introduce ourselves to people standing by themselves, to greet people with warm smiles and handshakes, and make sure no one comes into our community gatherings without feeling welcomed. Making sure we are INTENTIONALLY reaching out to others, especially new people, is always important, but even more so during seasons of transition (when high school grads start attending in summer, when school starts and attendance increases, etc.)! We challenge our Crave staff and key volunteers to step out of their comfort zones to make sure others feel loved.
One of the ways we do that is by challenging our team to practice the 5-Minute Rule after our weekly service. When the service is over, we make sure to introduce ourselves to the people around, be present in the main hallway where people hang out afterwards, or just hang out by the door as people leave. For FIVE MINUTES after the service, we try to avoid talking to our friends and try to build connections and conversations with people we don’t already know. As staff and key leaders, we want people to see that we are engaged, available, and visible in our community.
Some verses to think about regarding the Five-Minute Rule are:
"Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." Deut. 10:19 (Or, exchange 'Egypt' for 'Crave' or the name of your ministry.)
"Do not be forgetful of hospitality, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Heb. 13:2 (Yep, God said it twice.)
"For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matt 5:46-48 (Kinda sounds like the 5-Minute Rule, huh?)
You can create an environment each week that is known for being a place full of God’s love…you just need to be intentional about it.