“We want you!”
This was the message that pulsed throughout the room at summer orientation this past week. The clock struck 9:00 pm, and the auditorium filled with energetic, incoming first-year students. It was loud, chaotic, and exciting. Freshmen stood at our table filling out info cards as students swarmed around them and other student organizations yelled for them to come check out their tables. I don’t know if you have ever been to a student organization fair, but they are fantastic and fascinating to watch. It is the essence of college culture: recruitment. University culture is a recruiting culture. Students know people will bombard them and recruit them to be part of their groups. It is such a rush to walk around and have everyone want you to sign up, to join, to be part of their “something.”
It’s easier than ever to recruit for an organization by tabling, engaging in outreach, promoting your student organization, and getting students involved. As college ministers, we know that students have a need and desire to make connections. They want to be part of something while in college. Research shows that the more involved and connected a student is, the more likely they are to do well in school and graduate. Community matters and being recruited by Christian ministries can be life-changing. We are created to be in community! God Himself is in community as the Trinity and invites us to be part of that community. It is at the core of who we are as Jesus-followers. God did not intend for us to live in isolation; He created us to thrive within community. Even the wisest man to live, Solomon, said it was better to live in community than in isolation!
“Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
Recruiting culture, while good, can also be harmful. Many students are lonely, looking to reinvent themselves, and searching for belonging and identity; they can easily be swayed to get involved in an unhealthy group or community. But we need to recruit them for our ministries because they can find a place to belong and become, have wise and healthy friendships, and grow in faith. We must show them that we want them, what they can get from us, and that we need them to be part of us. Every person brings value to the family of God and can fill in a gap in your ministry. Paul reminds us of that when He talks about roles and the body of Christ.
Community is God’s desire for us, in Him and with others. We are on campuses to show students the path of righteousness. We can demonstrate that following Jesus is not just life-changing—it brings a healthy community and is a wise thing to do!
“The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
Pray for students as they get ready to go to campuses across the world in the next several weeks. Pray that they will seek out a wise and godly community. Pray for our collegiate ministries to be bold and run hard after students. We, as college ministers, must go to them and recruit them! Fall is coming; recruiting season is upon us! Go ye, therefore, and make disciples. Recruit them for the Lord.
Sarah Farley is a campus minister at the University of Georgia. She loves talking about Jesus, SEC football, eating burgers, and drinking coffee with students.