Step 1: Form a team to plan, begin and maintain a ministry to students in a church
The best planning, conducting, and evaluation of a ministry is done by a team which includes students as well as adults. It is better to have a ministry with students rather than for them. Let them have a piece of the action. Planning often generates enthusiasm for doing. Professional and lay leaders of the church should join with representative students to form a planning team. Study Some DO's and DON'Ts and capitalize on the experience of others, at least in the beginning.
Step 2: Survey and Analyze the Situation
Review what is being done. Evaluate how well the church is presently achieving its goal of meeting the needs of students. Determine the changes which should be made. Count the cost. Some church leaders simply do not envision a ministry to students in their goals. Review the priorities of the congregation to learn how high on the list they have placed a ministry with students.
There are some suggested Student Ministry Objectives which can be used to begin your discussion of what objectives your church has or needs to have.
Step 3: Select a Pattern of Organization
Begin by reviewing the existing church programs and services. Then organize "on paper," making use of these existing organizations to reach your goals. You may need to create a new organization to do the job if existing ones are not focused on students. (See Student Ministry Council) This council structure parallels the way many churches are organized to do youth ministry. Decide whether to add a student component to all organizations simultaneously or to major on one, with the thought of adding others later.
Step 4: Select, Enlist and Train Leaders
In order to recruit qualified workers, the church and its leaders must make ministry with students a high priority. As with any task, it takes persons who are comfortable working with this 18 to 25 year old age group in order to be successful. Workers must be selected with care. Enlistment of those selected may not be easy. Some adults are afraid to attempt a ministry with this age group. A proper orientation and a continuing education program will give encouragement to workers and improve the quality of their ministry.
Assistance is available from the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina's Campus Ministry Team in the form of campus ministers/coaches who will come to your church, meet with your planning group, conduct training sessions for adult workers, and network you with other churches who are ministering with students.
Step 5: Activate the Organization
Once you have identified your organizational structure, for example a Student Ministry Council, add the people who will participate in the "real thing." Decide when it is the logical time to launch the organization on its voyage. In most campus-church situations the logical time to launch such an organization is as activities begin for the new fall term. This is not the only time of course; in situations where most of the students live at home, it may be launched at most any time.
In some situations, high school students may be moved into the student part of the organization just as they are graduating from high school.
Step 6: Select Study Materials
Threads Media--through Lifeway Resources and National Collegiate Ministry--provides material especially designed for college students or easily adaptable for use with students. Two items, Collegiate Magazine and Life Matters are excellent college age and young adult appropriate. Threads media publishes specific helps for teachers of college students. The Campus Ministry Team of the Baptist State Convention of N. C. attempts to stay up to date on the resources that are available.
Step 7: Select Program Actions
Once you have organized, studied the needs of students and identified the resources of the church, you are ready to act! The suggestions of program actions found on the previous page may be helpful as you plan your course of action. Whatever activities and events are planned should be placed on the church calendar and publicized with all persons related to the ministry.
In those situations where there is a Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM - formally known as BSU) organized on a campus nearby, coordination should be worked for the mutual benefit of church and campus programs. Duplication of efforts and conflicts in schedule may then be reduced to a minimum. At the same time, the opportunity to coordinate attendance at the Fall Student Conference held in September should be examined. The possibility of working together to plan and implement a retreat during the year is enhanced when there is open communication between church and campus.
In some settings it might be desirable to plan activities at an associational level. It is certainly true that several small groups coming together for an occasional event has the possibility of energizing all groups and individuals.
Step 8: Launch an Outreach Program
The best planned program of activities will be useless unless ways are found to get students to participate in them. Nothing can or should replace the spontaneous enlistment in which a student brings a friend to an activity. Experienced campus ministers and church ministers to students acknowledge that students inviting students to accompany them to any activity is the most successful method of outreach.
Yet there are individual students who will remain unreached unless a planned outreach program is developed. Knowing who the students are and where they spend their time is vitally important. Identify the students in your church family. Get a profile of each student. Some will have the same profile. Others will be very different. This information will be important as you begin to plan your outreach program. Some efforts will work well with some students but not with others. How often are students home from school? How many are commuting? How many are working? One caution: this information needs to be updated regularly. Students' lives and activities change frequently. Your outreach program will be only as effective as your knowledge about the student is up to date.
Step 9: Provide Budget
A program budget should be provided. That is to say, funds should be available to make possible the program activities and facilities required to realize the objectives and goals selected.
Step 10: Provide Space, Facilities, and Equipment
We must recognize the fact that an effective ministry requires space, facilities, and equipment. Since many students attend classes on campuses in attractive surroundings, placing them in the kitchen, pastor's study, or in the utility room should only be a temporary measure. It is a temptation to allow the organization to take on the shape of the space available, but it should be the other way around. The pattern of organization should be selected first and then adequate space provided. Using space apart from the church building can sometimes be advantageous, but students are likely to feel much more a part of your church if they meet on church property. It is logical for divisions of the group to be small enough for informal personal contacts of student-to-student and student-to-leader.
Step 11: Evaluate
An ongoing evaluation of the ministry should occur at each meeting of the Student Ministry Council. Evaluating the completed programs and/or activities will provide those responsible for upcoming events with valuable data as plans are finalized. Always evaluate individual events in light of stated objectives and the action plans chosen to achieve the goals.
Once a year the Student Ministry Council should conduct a thorough evaluation of all its objectives. Examine the goals named to reach each of the objectives. Were the activities and programs appropriate and helpful in achieving these goals? When this detailed evaluation has occurred, planning for the next year can take place with constructive information in hand.
Contributed by Joe Clontz, Former Student Ministry Consultant, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina