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Biggest momentum builder of the year

As a ministry, how do we know if we’re being effective? How do we decide which events to do and which not to do? What are we even trying to accomplish this semester?

We need goals.

I think all of us would agree that we are initiative-taking, go-getter types of people.

Even if we aren’t great at setting goals, we realize that we should set goals and that we’ll accomplish more if we do.

There are about 100 books on Amazon right now that will back me up on that.

Does your staff team have a clear, defined goal for this year? This semester?

The point of this article, though, is not to convince your ministry to come up with just any goal to work towards. It’s to try to convince your staff of what that goal should be.

Yes, we know we’re trying to build laborers from the college campuses of the world, but that’s not a great goal.

That’s like a business saying their goal is to make a profit. Well, duh! But in the words of Kathryn in Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,

 “The key, of course, is to define our goals, our results, in a way that is simple enough to grasp easily, and specific enough to be actionable. Profit is not actionable enough. It needs to be more closely related to what we do on a daily basis.”

Building laborers for Christ is a great purpose statement, but it’s not actionable enough.

We have two major events that we recruit to as a ministry: our winter conference and our summer project.

Without these two events, Student Mobilization would not be what it is today.

I think they are so much a part of our success that we can forget how important they actually are.

I’ve tried to play out in my mind what would happen if we ceased to have one or both of these events…it’s not pretty!

I would love to make the argument, as many do, that we do not need events and conferences for people to come to Christ and for laborers to be raised up.

We definitely don’t. God is bigger than that.  We need life on life. We’re not the Billy Graham Crusades. Multiplication doesn’t happen in four days. And what if people start to think that all we care about is numbers? Also, if we recruit too hard we might sound pushy and even desperate. The people that really want to come will sign up.

If you need more reasons not to recruit to our winter conference, I could keep going.

Despite all of the above, I want to make the case that we should make our winter conference goal our overarching goal for the fall semester. Here’s why:

Winter conferences are awesome for everyone

From seeker to laborer, it’s awesome. It’s fun, challenging, you laugh, you cry, you build memories, you make new friends, and most importantly the gospel is shared.

I can argue that the gospel is just as powerful coming from me in a one-to-one as from a speaker in front of 2,000 people because it’s true. The gospel is powerful no matter the setting.

But there’s just something about hearing the gospel, whether it’s the first time or the 100th time, in a room full of 2000+ people. It’s powerful and effective.

Jesus did it—Sermon on the Mount, feeding of the 5,000, etc.

This was beneficial not only for the crowds to hear the gospel, but for the disciples to hear Jesus teach the crowds what He was also teaching them individually.

Winter conferences create momentum for campus and for individual targets

Momentum is so valuable when trying to raise up laborers.

Once a student goes to winter conference you’ve got some trust. You’ve got some buy-in. You can challenge them to take that next step, whatever it might be.

Winter conferences push people toward summer projects

If one of my guys can live with a laborer for nine weeks, hear challenging messages weekly, be taught to share the gospel, etc., the chances of him becoming a laborer go through the roof compared to the guy who doesn’t go to summer project.

If you’re a new staff member and haven’t personally seen the chances of a student going to summer projects dramatically increase because of winter conference, then you should ask an older staff person who will have plenty of testimonies.

Winter conference is a great measuring stick

It provides an opportunity to measure if I’m sharing the gospel, recruiting to and leading Bible studies, sowing broadly, and all of the other things that are required of our job.

If I do these well, then people should be at our winter conference.

Obviously there are more factors than that and each campus experiences different hurdles and obstacles in getting people to winter conference.

You could do everything perfectly with a guy/girl and it doesn’t guarantee they will go to winter conference. We’ve all seen that!

But in general, if I am doing my job right, I should and we should have people coming with us to winter conference.

I’m thinking of several guys who are totally lost and there’s no way they are signing up for winter conference right now.

But if I make it my goal to get them there, what does that mean I have to do with them this semester?

Befriend them, get in the Word, discover spiritual interest, build trust, share the gospel, get them in a Bible study, introduce them to other people in the ministry, etc. All of these things I should be doing anyway!

The goal of getting this guy to winter conference makes me stay on track.

A winter conference goal is a great filter for staff decisions made throughout the fall

This goal isn’t something that is made in August and then on January 2nd you pull it back out to see if you met the goal.

It should be something that is brought up on a weekly basis.

Based on the past, almost 99% of the laborers that come out of our ministry will have gone to Kaleo and to SMC.

If the events and other things that we plan do not push people towards SMC, then why do that event?

In Five Dysfunctions of a Team they decided that the most important thing for the company to do in that particular quarter was to acquire new customers. They set a high but achievable goal of 18 new customers.

Every decision they made in every department of the company was filtered through that goal.

A winter conference goal promotes working together as a team

It’s easy to only be concerned about our targets and only care about the people we’re personally ministering to. But when the team makes a goal together, the team must work together to achieve this goal.

For example, if you are a guy ministering to a couple of fraternities, why would you care about your team member ministering in the sororities?

But for the team to accomplish the goal, you are now going to have to help that other team member get students in her targets to winter conference.

Maybe now you have to spend five minutes here and five minutes there talking to freshman girls. The horror!

Those few conversations can go a long way in giving your team member credibility and trust with them.

Reflection Questions

Think through a couple of students you’ve met this year. How would their life potentially change if they attended your winter conference this year?

What potential decisions would that lead to?

How would helping your student leaders have more vision for recruiting to winter conference help them in their walks with God? Help them reaching others?

How would your overall ministry be better off if you placed a larger emphasis on getting people to your winter conference?

So you’re doing all the right stuff with some students but not quite sure how to actually recruit them to your winter conference? Check out my article, Recruiting 101.

  • Steve Shadrach

    Blake is the real deal, friends. He loves students and they know it and feel it. He has a heart to lead them to Christ, get them growing and multiplying, and using fun/creative/momentum building events and gatherings to create an amazingly tight and powerful Christ communities. Learn from him. I do!!!