Death by Chocolate was an event that was birthed and run in my time on staff at the University of Kentucky under Daniel Berry. This event has always been very successful and still continues to thrive at the UKBCM. I hope that this Conversational Outreach will be useful for your ministry to connect students to your ministry and to Christ. Here are some reasons why I think this event is a great resource for ministries of most sizes:
- The materials for what you need can be as extravagant or simple in regards to cost.
- It provides an easy opportunity for you and your students to engage new students in conversation outside of the ministry.
- The event can give some great opportunities for follow-up gospel appointments or further conversation.
- The variety of people you can reach is very wide. (It’s hard to find too many people who don’t like chocolate!)
- It is a great opportunity to get some of your local churches involved by having them make chocolate things for the event.
As mentioned above the list of materials for this event can be as simple or extravagant as you wish. Here I will list a few things that will be useful to pull off a successful Death By Chocolate!
- An open space for setting up tables of food and places for people to eat and chat.
- Flyers and advertisements on campus as well as social media accounts.
- Varieties of chocolate. (Cookies, candy bars, brownies, chocolate ice cream, etc.)
- Drinks (Milk, water, sodas, lemonade, orange juice, etc.)
- Contact Cards to get student information for follow up (Name, email, phone number, social media)
- Plates, knives, forks, spoons, napkins, cups.
- Poster board and butcher paper for making signs
LEADING UP TO THE EVENT
In the weeks leading up to your event, the number one thing is getting the word out on campus. Contact your student life to set up a table, put advertisements on your building or space, and print flyers to really let students know when this event is happening. If this outreach is one of your kick-off events for the semester, see if the university will do anything to help officially advertise for their welcome week. This is also a great time for you to ask your church partners if they would be willing to help by having volunteers bake for this event or purchase some chocolate dessert items to give out to students. This can help save on cost as well as involve churches in your outreach to students on campus. Supplement what is being brought by buying different types of chocolate for the experience of the students. As a side note, BE PREPARED TO RUN OUT OF CHOCOLATE! Set some money from the budget aside to have ready to make a quick trip to the store if you happen to run out of chocolate. Set up of the food should be efficient especially if you are expecting a large number of students to come. Make sure to set up the room/s in a way that allows you and your students to engage people in conversation. You want to try to cut down on as much “grab and go” as possible so that genuine connections can be made with the students you are engaging. Make sure you have some way to get contact cards to the people who come to the event. These can be at a table that students pass as they are in line where you have a couple of students inviting others to fill them out. You can also place them on the tables where they will be eating.
DURING THE EVENT
When it is showtime, make sure you have some way to let people know that this event is currently happening. This can be done by playing music or having a sign indicating the event. We often asked a few of our students stand outside holding up some signs and inviting people in who are walking by. The purpose here is to make your space one that is open and inviting. Even if people do not decide to go in, it should be obvious that something is going on at your ministry.
One of the most important things to do at this event is to have your people spread out! The purpose of this event is to have students connect and engage with other students in conversations. Try to have a couple of your students be at each of the tables to welcome new students and start to get to know them. This is going to be one of the best ways to make connections with the students. The other way will be with having them fill out connection cards that you have provided either at a sign-up table or near the places they will be eating.
AFTER THE EVENT
Within the next 24 hours of the event, begin the follow up process. Use the contact cards to split up between your students and staff to begin following up with students. This is a great way to continue conversations that were had previously and to follow up with students that you weren’t able to talk with much. This can also be a great way to set up gospel appointments with students that were engaged with Death by Chocolate.
- You can try other sugar treats other than chocolate for the event. I’ve seen an event called “Sugar Rush” that was very similar but it was not limited to chocolate.
- In a context like Covid-19, have baggies individually wrapped to for students to take.
- Consider doing this event at night on a weekend as students won’t have classes or other obligations giving more opportunities for more students to come.