Yesterday I arrived on the campus of Lindenwood University, and after parking and walking to the front of the student center here is the sight I see:
(Facebook users need to click here for the video to show up)
There were a whole lot of students – most of them freshmen brand new to Lindenwood – hanging out having a good time with members of ACB (the campus ministry led by my buddy and fellow CMU board member Kerry Cox). The crowd got bigger as the night progressed.
Kerry came to Lindenwood three or four years ago and helped to plant ACB alongside a church – The Crossings. When he registered ACB as a student organization and began holding events on campus (like the annual rootbeer kegger, mud wrestling, or 80s skate night just to name a few), he got the university’s attention. Literally hundreds of students would show up to ACB’s events, and they were so successful the university eventually offered Kerry a job as the student activities director.
Kerry accepted the job, and his new position has served to enhance ACB’s already outstanding ministry. I’ve been priviledged to witness how it’s been working for them over the past couple of days.
1) Tons of “unaffiliated” students show up to the events.
By unaffiliated I mean they are guests having no church home or relationship with God.
Why do they show up? Because they have fun at these events. I might add, it’s also good clean fun. Check out these pictures from Friday:
Here are a couple of pics I snapped tonight at another event Kerry organized – movie night at the football field:
There were over 300 students that showed up for the event Friday night, and I estimate over 150 for the movie night on Saturday. The majority of the people that showed aren’t members of the campus ministry, but a high percentage of them were – it was important for the ministry members to be there. That brings me to observation number 2:
2) Ministry members understand they need to be at events like this for the purpose of meeting new people and connecting them with the campus ministry and church.
They’re there because they care about the ministry, and they care about reaching lost people. Most of them were saved by Jesus through the ministry, and were connected with the ministry because someone else reached out to them (often at a campus event). They want to share that gift with others.
Do ministry members also come to events to have a good time themselves? Of course. They’ll have a good time, but their good time is not the main reason they’re there. They’re there to build relationships with new people and to show them love! They might chill with someone at an event then set up time later in the week to grab coffee or catch a movie, invite them to a cross chat (a Thursday night Bible study with an evangelistic slant), or invite them to church on Sunday. I expect to see a lot of the people from Friday and Saturday’s parties in the morning at worship service.
At tonight’s movie tons of ACB members brought fliers with them for this Thursday’s cross chat and were passing them out to the people they were interacting with. I expect they’ll have a good turn out of new students.
Why do the ministry members value bringing these new people in? Because Kerry and the other leaders talk about it a lot, and the ministry members are sold on the purpose. That purpose is to make disciples. The leaders understand that and agree upon it, and they articulate the purpose to their group members regularly. It’s not just talk for them either – they also model that purpose. They’re focused on reaching students themselves, and those they’re mentoring see that and respond accordingly.
Outwardly focused leadership = outwardly focused groups.
Ministry leaders – you’re wasting your breath preaching evangelism to your students if you aren’t reaching people yourself!