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blank.gif (43 bytes) Communicate vision
Planning an outreach
Gathering students
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3.8

Five Phases of a Campus Ministry

Have you ever watched a baby learn to walk? Do you remember watching Olympic track athletes on TV? It’s amazing to think that at one time in his life, an Olympic sprinter could not even walk. He didn’t just get up and set a new world record one day – he had to add one building block to another. First, our athlete started crawling, then his first steps, then toddling, then walking, then running, then sprinting, then setting a new world record.

In the same way, God takes a campus ministry through steps or phases as it grows. Each phase builds on the previous one, and over time, through God’s grace, a vibrant ministry emerges.

The five phases of ministry are: Preparation, Gathering, Visibility, Leadership, and Expansion. Following are descriptions of the phases, and principles that should help you identify where you are and show you how to progress from there.

1. Preparation

Your ministry is born and grows a lot in this phase, but sometimes it’s hard to see much of the impact. You are beginning your outreach and it is important to lay a good foundation. Foundations are funny – they are very important but you rarely see them.

Here are some things you need to do as you establish your foundation:

  • Ask as many Christians as you can find to pray.
  • Ask like-minded people to join with you.
  • Paint the picture of what you would like to do – what is your purpose, what do you hope will happen? Prepare to explain your purpose to others – students, prayer partners, etc. Write your purpose as you would explain it to someone:

2. Gathering

Add people to your movement. Find students and leaders who can help you begin – start by sharing the hopes you have with more Christians and see who responds.

Another important aspect of gathering involves telling non-Christians about your hope in God. Begin by telling individuals (create a list you pray for) and groups of students. The most likely place to start is with groups you are involved in – band, sports teams, student government, etc. The training on peer group outreaches can help you prepare outreaches to groups of students you are involved in. As students respond to Christ through your outreach, begin to help them grow in their faith.

3. Visibility

The emphasis here is on a greater public outreach and leadership foundation. After the initial groups of students has been exposed to your outreach, you will want to expand in two directions:

  • Breadth: You will want to expand your outreach to a greater number of students. You do this through a regular outreach meeting, larger school wide outreach, and greater numbers of peer group outreaches.
  • Depth: As your outreach expands, the foundation of your leadership team will also need to expand. Your ability to reach greater numbers of students comes because you have a larger and stronger leadership team.

You will know you are in the Visibility phase when you see your ministry having a positive effect on a greater part of the school.

4. Leadership

Because your outreach is growing, so is your leadership base. Students are actively sharing their faith, growing numbers are leading other students in Bible study and follow-up groups, and freshmen and sophomores are being trained to replace seniors in leadership as they graduate.

5. Expansion

Your leadership team helps multiply their influence by helping others launch their ministries at other campuses. Your leadership core is not only providing leadership for your campus but is also helping others begin their outreach.

Remember, your ministry experience will not perfectly follow these phases. God is the one who causes the growth. No athlete’s career follows the same path, and not every athlete wins Olympic gold. But, one thing is for sure – no athlete ever wins Olympic Gold without learning to walk first!

Five Phases of a Campus Ministry — Diagram

1. Preparation
Objective:
  • Lay a solid foundation to begin a growing ministry

 

What should I do?
  • Pray and develop a sensitive heart to God’s direction
  • Research and gather information
  • Contact key people and build relationships
  • Develop prayer support
2. Gathering
Objective:
  • Expose the claims of Christ to a broad segment of students

 

What should I do?
  • Build and train my team
  • Watch for God at work
  • Share the ministry: one-to-one, small groups, classrooms, large outreaches
  • Evangelism
  • Enlist Christian students
3. Visibility
Objective:
  • Develop broad public identity for the ministry through the students gathered

 

What should I do?
  • Continue broad exposures and follow-up
  • Regular outreaches
  • Large outreaches
  • Cultivate relationships among less responsive students and groups
  • Continue to focus on ripe fields
  • Begin student-led groups
  • Prepare for opposition
4. Leadership
Objective:
  • Put responsibility for the ministry into the hands of more students

 

What should I do?
  • Student led influence on campus
  • Student-led planning and meetings
  • Reach out to every target group every year

 

5. Expansion
Objective:
  • Multiply campus ministry to neighboring campuses or cities

 

What should I do?
 
  • Leadership teams begin the preparation and gathering phases at new campuses or cities
  • Student leadership is annually self-perpetuating
  • Leadership core continues to grow
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