In a consumer-driven culture, our students can bring a consumer-driven mindset to their faith development. Many students tend to pick and choose what they want to do based on what they are comfortable doing. When I look through Scripture, the followers of God who were willing to answer the call of God are the ones who showed great faith and maturity in their love for God. Yet, if we are not careful, we can cater to the comfortability of our students. Our attendance numbers may look great, but the substance of discipling students to be fully devoted to Christ may be missing critical aspects
Here are four principles I use to create a holistic strategy for collegiate disciple-making:
- Create disciple-making processes to deepen your students’ faith in Christ.
As you’re connecting with students in your respective ministries, do you have a process of moving students into discipling relationships? Sure, having students connect to your large group worship is important to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. But, is there an ongoing discipling relationship present to ensure they understand what is being taught? Are there specific ways students are being challenged to apply the biblical truths to their specific circumstances? Students need to belong to a community of Christ-followers who walk daily with them to move them along in their faith development.
- Create community for the students to live out what God is teaching them.
College ministers share God’s heart for disciple-making and advancing God’s Kingdom on our campuses. We teach, equip, and implore students to go make disciples, but do we enable and guide them to specific unreached students on campus? One way to do this is to enlist a disciple-making community and give them a mission field. Identifying a specific people group on campus is very important. Ask your students to pray and place their disciple-making community in a consistent location based on where they live, play, or study. Their people group could be students of a specific dorm or hallway, academic major, Greek life, athletics, etc.
Each disciple-making community meets regularly to spend time in God’s Word, prayer, accountability, Scripture memory, and other spiritual disciplines. Encourage these groups to pray for their specific people group and to pray for opportunities to befriend as well as share the gospel with them.
- Create “space” for disciple-making communities to live missionally together on campus.
If you and I are not careful, we can create some great ministry events tailored for believers and seekers at our ministry centers but not provide time for students to go, befriend, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with students who would never come to our ministry centers and/or ministry events. We need to regularly remind students of the commands of God to make disciples and equip them accordingly. We should also plan times in the semester for these disciple-making communities to love their people group in word and deed by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them.
- Create short-term mission opportunities that reinforce your disciple-making process.
For many college students, going on mission trips is a normal part of their lives. Find strategic opportunities that align with your strategy of reaching your campus with the gospel of Jesus Christ. If your students are struggling with sharing their faith, find an opportunity that will develop their evangelism skills and confidence. If your students need to learn how to make disciples in a disciple-making community, partner with a church or church plant who is effectively reaching and discipling the people of their city or neighborhood. If you have a specific ethnic group on your campus from another country and want to be effective at discipling them, consider serving with an international missionary to engage that specific ethnic group in their homeland.
Eliminating the disconnections of your disciple-making process will allow your students to make disciples who will make disciples to the fourth generation (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Ben Maddox is the Collegiate Ministry Specialist of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board for Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN.