10 Tips for Launching a Church-Based Ministry on a Nearby Campus

Are you a local church looking to reach a nearby college campus or community college? Are you wondering, how do I get started? 

Here are 10 tips to get moving in the right direction. This is not a comprehensive list, and there are other approaches that are effective, but this is a fairly simple process that works: 

  1. A great first step is to go to the office of student life and find out what it would take for your church to become a registered student organization (RSO). This will allow you to do events on campus, and register classrooms and other meeting spaces for small group meetings. It will be more effective in the long run if you can do some ministry events on campus. If you are unable to get an RSO, then many campuses have free speech zones where you can table and meet with people.
  2. As Paul Worcester says, “It’s all about the contacts!” A next step is to table on campus and hand out flyers advertising your church and your on campus events. Have a google form or contact card that people can fill out to receive more information about your ministry. Your table should have sharp signage and look professional. Students want to be around people initially who are like them, so younger people running the table is preferred. If you are fortunate enough to have students in your church who are already attending the school, recruit them to help with tabling and heading up the outreach on campus. Table like crazy the first week of school and plan to table when the school offers organization fairs. Set a faith goal for the number of contacts you will try to get in the first couple weeks of classes.
  3. Invite all of your contacts to the launch party on campus. One approach is to have the party in the same location where your small group Bible study will meet. A classroom on campus is always a good option. You can invite the contacts by simply texting each of them a short message, thanking them for coming by your table, with the information for the time and place for the launch party. Faithfulness in promptly texting all of your contacts is really important!
  4. Plan your party, have food and refreshments, and do something fun together… keeping the length at an hour or so. Let people know that at the same time and place next week, you will be launching a small group Bible study.. and invite them to church.
  5. Try to set up Gospel Appointments with everyone who comes to the launch party, and all new visitors after that. Build Gospel Appointments into the DNA of your ministry early on! 
  6. Begin meeting weekly in your small group Bible study, try to funnel people to your church, and plan fun community building events during the week. Fun events are important – bowling, pumpkin carving, Steak n Shake or Chick-Fil-A runs are great for community building. Every week, encourage people to invite a friend to the next meeting. We tend toward discovery Bible studies, so that people can join the group at any time and not feel too far behind. 
  7. If it is a commuter school, attach community building events to the small group meeting or when they are already on campus. You can walk over to the library and have a study party after the small group meets, for example. 
  8. Begin to identify key leaders who are participating in the ministry and delegate tasks to them. They can take turns being in charge of food or refreshments every week, leading the Bible study discussion, or planning a fun event. Give them training in shepherding the rest of the group. You can meet with leaders and potential leaders for some weekly training and prayer for the campus. In the past, we have met in a study room in the library, and I would spend 30 minutes training them on an important topic (evangelism, disciplemaking, the wheel illustration, leadership, leading a small group) and we would spend 30 minutes in prayer for the campus. Our prayers were centered around God raising up laborers (Luke 10:2), praying for people by name to come to Christ, and for God to move on the campus. One of the best things you can instill in those you are training is how to labor in prayer (Ephesians 4:12). 
  9. Along with training leaders in a larger group setting, you can begin to disciple the most hungry leaders, teaching them how to shepherd the rest of the group. Meet with them one on one or in a small discipleship group. Get them established in a quiet time. Read through the Fuel and the Flame together. Take them out witnessing on campus for evangelism training. 
  10. In the following school year, those you have trained can start new outreach oriented groups so that you can have multiple groups.. and unleash them to reach and disciple others. This is when you really start to see a movement happening! 

Well, there you have it.. 10 tips to launching a ministry on a nearby campus! In the comments below, please share any other tips you would add in order to keep the discussion going!

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