Some years ago, I wrote an article where I said, "An intentional freshmen ministry is the secret to doubling your ministry." That may sound like an over-promise. But, I believe it can be a game changer! I credit adding two specific Freshmen events to our regular schedule, for propelling the growth of our ministry.
FRESHMEN ONLY EVENTS
FRESHMEN SURVIVAL - I credit Dave Jobe, who was a College Minister in Texas, with this idea and the name. Years ago his campus would open the dorms to freshmen a week before classes started and yet have very little for them to do. He started a three day Survival event with all sorts of "how to" seminars, get acquainted and fun activities. The response was huge and his ministry ballooned. Many of us copied it in some form or other. Some did a weekend and others of us did a brief one day version. Some use titles like Rookie Red Wolf Party", or some other title specific to the campus. I believe the two main components must be fun, get acquainted activities and great, practical tips. We found students responded to topics around "Academic Survival", "Dumbest Mistakes Freshmen Make"; "Spiritual Survival". Our Survival event always was heavy in small group activities with upper class leaders and lots of great tip breakouts to choose from....and LOTS of PIZZA...of course! Those who pre-registered got a sharp tee shirt and that continued to be seen around campus, which was a great promotion for our ministry throughout the semester.
FRESHMEN NIGHT - These are worship and fun events in the regular weekly schedule which can last a whole semester or just the first month of school. Depending on resources, it can involve a student band for worship.....and even a freshmen band, (which helps recruit freshmen musicians), a fun activity and a small group Bible study led by upper class leaders. Another way to do it would be doing a different "Survival Tip" each week, instead of or in addition to the Bible study.
FRESHMEN LEADERSHIP TEAM (FLT) - Many students come to school having been leaders at school or church and looking for leadership opportunities. FLT can be a way of recruiting leader types and developing leaders for future roles in your ministry. Some ways to start are:
1. Invite freshmen contacted over the summer to apply or commit to join.
2. Announce FLT the first couple of weeks with an open invite or with an application process.
3. Allow each Freshmen Bible study group to elect one or two representatives to the FLT.
FRESHMEN BIBLE STUDY GROUPS - These can be built around specific "Freshmen topics" such as, "How to Have a Quiet Time"; "What About my Doubts?"; "Answers to Tough Questions" or simply be a basic Bible study. It can be as simple as starting with just one Freshmen Bible study group.
FRESHMEN RETREAT - Some do this event early or even just prior to school, while others hold it late in the semester. Another option is to have a "Freshmen Track" at your regular Back-2-School Retreat....and a special Retreat price just for freshmen.
FRESHMEN FOCUS - We did this at the church where I led the college ministry. For the first three weeks of the fall semester, we had Freshmen Focus for 3 weeks for an hour proceeding our regular Wednesday night large group worship. It helped connect them to our regular event and allowed us to focus on knowing them and their needs. The topics were along the "Survival Tips" line.
Each of these ideas could have fifty variations. Think about your campus, what the needs are and what your resources will allow. Remember: What a student does and the friends they make the first 3 weeks often determines their whole college career.
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