From Freshman to Missionary: Mobilization Pathways

Lauren Cartwright
Two students, one in graduation gown with honors cords and medals, pose in front of academic building on college campus

Have you experienced the joy that comes from watching graduating seniors step out into the world and walk confidently into great commission living? There’s nothing quite like it! Each individual’s journey of faith is as different as our fingerprints. Though each journey is unique, we have found that engaging students in the following pathways yields a transformative college experience. Each pathway is in sequential order, intended to be built upon as the student progresses in their relationship with God. Take them one step at a time to “Judea”, “Samaria” and to “the end of the earth”. (Acts 1:8)

From Freshman to Missionary: Mobilization Pathways 1

Freshman: Cultivating Foundations 

Focus & Guidance 

  • Focus on core identity beliefs: who is the person of Jesus, how did God design the student uniquely and how does God see the world around them. 
  • Be intentional to engage students with tools that help them discover their spiritual giftings and personality. 
  • Cast vision for how they can become more involved in ministry happening on their campus and personally invite them to come alongside you (or an upperclassman). 
  • Missions should be a common topic of conversations in 1:1, small groups and large group teachings. 

Experiential Growth 

  • Campus Buy-In: Personal invitation to join what God is doing on campus.
  • Spring Break Mission Experience: Provides areas of growth through support development, team dynamics and faithfulness to go. 

Sophomore: Developing Missions Worldview 

Focus & Guidance 

  • Provide opportunities for them to serve in capacities that will enable them to utilize their gifts.
  • Serve shoulder to shoulder with them, as they step into leadership roles. Challenge students to commit to roles with appropriate responsibilities.
  • Mobilize students on summer missions. 

Experiential Growth 

  • Local Campus Leader: Specific ministry focus and shoulder-to-shoulder discipleship. 
  • Spring Break Mission Experience: Inviting underclassmen to join the experience. 
  • Summer Impact Team: Exposes students to different cultures and a global perspective. 

Junior: Complete Immersion 

Focus & Guidance

  • Provide greater challenges and ask big life questions regarding calling. These questions will propel students into a deeper pursuit of God and the calling He has for their lives.
  • Intertwined with discipleship, expose students to different models of ministry and environments that will expand their understanding of what great commission living looks like. 
  • Expose students to both vocational missions/ministry and great commission living through a secular career. 

Experiential Growth 

  • Local Campus Mentor: Discipleship of a younger student. 
  • Campus 2 Campus: Students help, learn from campus ministry in a different cultural context. 
  • Spring Break Mission Experience: Student Mentor 
  • Summer- Full: A leap of faith in support development, time commitment and full submersion into missions. 

Senior: Mobilize to the Nations 

Focus & Guidance 

  • This pathway splits in two directions: 
  1. Vocational Ministry – CMI Position, Church Internship or International Mission
  2. Career Catalyst – Entering the workforce with intentionality 
  • Guide them in practicing the art of discernment and genuine pursuit of God’s Lordship.
  • Help them prayerfully strategize based on their giftings, experiences and passions; how God may be able to use them to impact a specific people group with the Gospel. 
  • Finally, help them find a local church or faith community wherever God places them. 

Experiential Growth 

  • Campus Mobilizer: Involved in campus planning and implementation.
  • Spring Break Mission Experience: Student Mentor 
  • CMI Application or Workforce Applications (with intentionality) 
  • Summer: Support Development or Transition to Missions in the Workforce 

The most important thing you can gain from this article is this: missions isn’t something we do, missions is a part of who we are as followers of Christ. The act of serving is intertwined with our relationship with God, the identity He provides us and the calling placed on every believer. In that same way, intertwine the way you talk about great commission living and focused missions experiences into all your ministry does. Realizing that each student may start down these pathways at a different point in their college experience, ensure you cultivate the foundation first. Just because a student can “talk the talk” and “walk the walk”, doesn’t mean their foundation is deep or solid enough to stand up through the tests of life. As you pursue God in what it looks like to mobilize students from your campus, know that you aren’t in this alone. Connect with mobilizers and other campus ministers you see doing this well. We are all in this together!

Lauren Cartwright is the Missions and Mobilization Coordinator for The Vine Campus Ministries. You can follow the ministry on Instagram @thevineuvm.

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