How can today’s students be tomorrow’s church? Doug DuBois, missionary for student evangelism for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network/BCMD, shares his answer: by challenging them to start today. “It’s nice to say they will be our future leaders, but I believe they are leaders now,” he stresses. “The challenge is to help them fine-tune their skills and then challenge them to go forward—and go right now.” Leading the next generation of leaders requires intentional effort and prayer.
For those church planters who are trying to enlist core team members, the reasons why people say “no” to their recruitment efforts must seem endless and insurmountable.
However, collegiate ministries have invested in the training of college-aged believers who want to continue to be used by God to make a difference for Christ. Many characteristics make young adults particularly suited for church planting, says Mike McQuitty, Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network/BCMD collegiate missionary.
First, they are eager for new things. For many people, the prospect of being part of something new can seem difficult. In contrast, change is a consistent part of students’ lives. They are in the process of changing jobs and living situations. In college, they change courses every semester and live in a new place twice a year.
Next, young adults are mobile. They often do not have many possessions or jobs; it’s easy to “leave behind” the little they do have. For most, no children exist that have to be uprooted.
Third, they are trained or teachable. For those coming out of a strong collegiate or young adult ministry, skills for reaching out and building the Kingdom have been acquired. In addition, they had repeated opportunities to put those skills into practice. So, they are looking for more chances to use what God has given them. Moreover, their teachable nature allows them to adopt new methods, structures, or forms of church life.
Finally, young adults are relational. They spend a great deal of time connecting with friends and meeting new ones. Since young adults are such a natural resource for church planting, denominational leaders, church planting centers and individual church planters should seek to cultivate core teams from them.
Four keys for engaging college students
1) Cultivate Relationships with Collegiate Ministries.
College ministries provide access to large numbers of young adults who are preparing for the next stage in life.
2) Disciple Key Future Core Team Members.
Before setting out to plant, pray for God to put two or three young adults in your life. Spend time with them. Teach them personal Christian disciplines and ministry skills. The result will be a team that you know well and shares your passion for the mission of God.
3) Plan to Invest in the Potential Members.
While young adults have a great deal to offer, they also come with some significant needs. They are looking for mentorship as well as a challenge. They often require specific direction as well as an opportunity to grow as leaders. Have a plan for investing in the lives of these young leaders.
4) Recruit Core Members in Groups.
Many times, young adults and college students are interested in serving as a team with their close friends from college or other point of connection. They have often already learned to serve and work together over time, and they know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. A continued opportunity to serve together can be very appealing.