Oct 08, 2018
Being Incarnational On Campus
Mitch Tidwell profiles Redeemer College’s approach to incarnational ministry in Lubbock, TX. It’s as simple as 3, 2, 1!
I love fall. Great weather, football season, and welcome week! One of the things I love to do during this time of year is visit churches who take advantage of this important season during the school year. Churches have about 2 weeks to capture the attention of students or they may lose them. I’ve heard Mark Vance say, “Give me freshman or give me death.” It’s a serious season!
This year I visited Redeemer Church in Lubbock, TX who has an active presence on the campus of Texas Tech University largely because they were throwing a big gathering in the middle of campus to reach students who may not naturally choose to spend time in a church setting. When I got there and began talking to leadership I realized I had stepped into something much more than a gathering. I was impressed with the forethought that had taken place to reach as many students, particularly freshman, as they could during the first 10 days of school.
What was the secret sauce? I sat down and asked Mitchell Johnson (Redeemer College Ministry, College Director) and Mandy McKamie (Redeemer College Ministry, College Resident) how they made it happen. Their answer? 3….2….1
Redeemer College ministry had a vision to have 1,500 meaningful conversations during the first 10 days of the fall semester. The goal was to help student leaders incarnate themselves on the campus. To help them posture themselves as missionaries that are sent to the campus, rather than consumers in the church. However, it was such a big goal that it felt overwhelming and students thought, “How are we going to accomplish this?” So they thought of a plan: 3….2….1
What is 3….2….1?
3 Redeemer College Ministry Events
On the first day of welcome week a partner ministry holds a .99 cent Steak Night. This event draws hundreds and hundreds of students. This is a great event to meet new people and to have meaningful conversations. Student leaders got in line to mingle with everyone who is getting a steak. They actually provided dinner at another time for their students leaders that way they would be able to focus on conversations. On that same night on Texas Tech campus there was a primarily Black fraternity that was holding an event called Stroll Off, an event featuring Divine Nine and Multicultural sororities and fraternities. It just so happens that the leader of this fraternity is part of the Redeemer College Ministry. RCM had student leaders come and incarnate themselves among the event. This allowed them to continue to reach their goal of 1,500 meaningful conversations and reach people. It was also two fold: this also helped the leadership group that is 90% white get comfortable in an environment that their not used to being in.
Here’s the cool thing, it didn’t stop at just meeting people. These conversations were also there to push people toward Christ, His people, AND another RCM gathering.
On Friday RCM students host “House Party” which is essentially a big dance party. This has been a huge success of the past few years because students love to dance and students also like to watch people dance! Throughout this first week student leaders are inviting others to this event as apart of their 1500 meaningful conversations. Students are also mobilized to make the Facebook event, the promotional graphic, and then blast it out all over their social media.It’s just regular house party full of dancing and talking, but it has big intentionality behind it. RCM chooses to not label it has a church event or put their name on any promotional things. However, it is strategically filled with RCM students and leaders. What happened? 400+ people showed up. Mitchell Johnson, the college director, has become the official DJ’s the event over the past couple of years.
Then, at the House Party students are mobilized to invite people they’ve gotten to know to the last of the Big 3 events, “College Gathering on Campus”. This event is a giant gathering at a park in the middle of campus. Around 600 students showed up to this event to worship through song and listen to the preaching of the Word of God. They were also given an opportunity to respond in faith to the Gospel, to get information about RCM, or join one of their gospel communities. This was their first year to ever do an event like this!
2 Campus Connections
RCM student leaders were also given a list of everything that are going on campus and they had to attend 2 events. They can attend an event or put on their own event. Some students put on a spike ball game and invited others, some play volleyball next to the dorms or some join other events already happening on campus. This allows student leaders to do something that fits who they are. It also allowed student leaders to see how much already goes on on TTU and the opportunities that are out there to connect to other students. The point was for the students to be on campus.
1 Gospel Community Hangout
Finally, leaders scheduled a social event with their Gospel Communities, which is their version of small group, missional communities, etc. The point in 3 and 2 was to build social momentum and continue to build on it by introducing those far from God to Christians. It is a bridge to invite students to belong to the church.
How did it go?
It was a huge win. It exposed students to life on campus. It allowed them incarnate themselves. The nature drift of ministries is to adopt the mindset “come to us” but RCM wants to change that posture. It forced student leaders to go to campus. RCM wants student leaders to see the life on campus. It helped students become more mission minded. Helped them see the opportunity all around them. It also allowed student leaders to see that ministry on purpose can be fun. The following week, they held their first College Gathering at the church and it was one of the biggest they had ever had! They also have more people connected to their Gospel Communities than ever before!
Questions to Consider:
- What events are already happening near or around your campus? How can your students be involved in those events?
- How can you establish your own events on campus or near campus?
- What’s an easy map you can develop to help give your students a vision to reach their campus?