Aug 24, 2015
The Event That Transformed Our Freshmen Outreach
Paul Nunez writes about how Cru at San Jose State has adopted an effective new way to do freshmen outreach.
For a few years now the Cru ministry at San Jose State has wrestled with how to have an effective freshmen outreach. We’ve cast vision and aligned our student leaders to reaching freshmen. We figured out that freshmen survival kits get us a ton of contacts and we’ve refined that strategy down to a science. But once we have all those freshmen contacts in hand, momentum for our Cru events and actual invovlement has always sputtered. We needed help.
Just before our back-to-school planning retreat, a few of our enterprising new staff had me read a step-by-step article on how the St. Louis Cru reach freshmen their first week on campus. We had some new ideas.
Insert the “casual event”
The new idea was pretty simple: the day we got new contacts, we invited them to a casual event that night. A casual event is something simple and natural that new students would want to do themselves.
Here’s what happened…
Timing: Students moved in on Saturday, so we hit the campus Sunday to hand out Freshmen Welcome Bags. School doesn’t start until Thursday so there are only dorm freshmen wandering around.
Day 1: Our very first day on campus, after getting 800 contacts, our dorm leaders invited all their best contacts via text to meet at a central location and then walk over together to Yogurtland (Frozen Yogurt).
To our surprise about 30 freshmen showed up…so the first day of passing out bags and getting surveys, we had 30 freshmen hanging out with us. Cool.
Day 2: The next night, with an additional 750 contacts from another day of passing out welcome bags, we did the same thing and invited the freshmen to get Boba.
This time close to 100 freshmen came. They came in large groups and many of them were friends of contacts we had invited. We realized that by having events the first few nights from when freshmen had arrived on campus, we were riding the wave of the freshmen “flock together” mentality and that many of them are still doing whatever they can to meet as many people as possible.
Day 3: Although we got less contacts this day (100), we invited all our contacts to a third event…s’mores and sports. We reserved the BBQ pits on campus, bought all the supplies and got our spikeball nets ready. We estimate about 150 students came out.
Our approach to sharing Christ this year focuses on making Gospel appointments with students who come out to our events. These events are meant to help students feel comfortable with us and want to hang out with us. From there, as freshmen establish relational connections within Cru, our students are then inviting them to get together one-on-one to talk about Jesus. Already, one student gave his life to Christ the morning after Boba and came back the next night to s’more night. After the s’more night, several of our leaders had set up Gospel appointments with freshmen who’ve been coming around… all this and school hasn’t even started yet!
How about you? What are your best new ideas for reaching freshmen?