5 critical elements for your weekly meeting
Imagine this scenario: a freshman girl walks into your weekly meeting and no one greets her. She doesn’t know where to sit and she doesn’t even really know what’s going on around her.
She overhears conversations about things that sound like inside jokes. Someone greets everyone from up front but they are talking in jargon she is unfamiliar with.
As she watches someone on stage shove some marshmallows in their mouth and try say to something she wonders, “Why am I here again?”
That sounds like a campus minister’s nightmare, right?
Sadly, it’s a reality for several who attend our weekly meetings.
I want to give you a few thoughts that will hopefully help you avoid situations like this one.
Below are some of the key elements to a weekly meeting that can be used to reach your campus.
Successful weekly meetings never stand alone. They are manufactured out of the relationships that exist outside of the weekly meeting.
If you depend too heavily on your weekly meeting, you’re asking it to do something it wasn’t designed to do.
Ideally, your evangelistic weekly meetings should be a place for all of you and your students’ personal ministry targets around campus.
Rarely should anyone walk in without already knowing someone. But if they do, you need to train your student leaders to welcome these people.
One other thing we try to do regularly is have special guests at our weekly meeting.
Though this isn’t our primary strategy of meeting people on campus, it does broaden the influence of your ministry. It also helps creates new relationships that can be used to set up Bible studies.
Around once a semester or so we have a special Greek night, an athlete night, a battle of the dorms night and “rep your squad” night for flag football teams and more.
This type of variety brings momentum to your weekly meeting and allows opportunities for the gospel to be heard by people from all over campus.
This should go without saying but your weekly meeting needs to be some of the most fun these students have all week.
Regardless of what all you include in your meeting (worship, prayer, talk, etc) there needs to be an overriding sense of fun.
If you don’t currently have an “entertainment” portion of your weekly meeting, I would suggest adding it.
However, this area of “fun” is dangerous because it can be pretty subjective.
To clarify, when I say fun, I don’t just mean fun to you.
Fun to us as ministers may be a different than it is to 18 year olds. Two keys to quality fun are: relevance and creativity.
There is nothing more awkward than an out of touch ministry.
To connect with students we must keep up with what is going on in their world.
Social media helps, but the Jimmy Fallon show is a good place to get ideas too.
If you want to have relevant fun in your meeting, he is typically a pretty safe spot to go get some ideas.
After relevance, creativity is crucial for quality fun.
Don’t get stuck in the rut of “what we did last year.”
Have brainstorming sessions, get ideas, ask questions, etc. Work hard to break the mold and get creative.
The secret to having fun that is relevant and creative is to involve your students!
Believe it or not, though you may have been cool a few years ago, you’re slowly getting more and more out of touch. And there is nothing worse than the awkward old guy still trying to act like the young cool guy.
Involve your students and give away most of the entertainment portion of your meeting to them!
The world our students live in demands and appreciates excellence.
They have a strong understanding of how things are done.
Don’t just show up a few minutes before and hope for the best.
Think through the details, take care of the loose ends, and lead an excellent meeting.
You want to protect yourself from overdoing this.
Don’t attach your identity to the success or quality of your weekly meeting. But you should care whether or not your MC was informed, or if the entertainment portion was offensive or not.
Lead well here and you won’t regret it.
4. Leadership Opportunities
As I said above, involving students is one of the primary ways to create an excellent weekly meeting.
I would suggest thinking to include these two groups of students: emerging leaders and students from your personal ministry.
You will set your ministry up to multiply and be owned by your students if you take time to delegate the majority of your weekly meeting.
These young leaders will provide fresh ideas and energy to your meeting and keep it from being stale for you and everyone else.
These young leaders are likely dying for opportunities to develop. What better way than allowing them to serve in this capacity?
I’ve had so many students ask for ways to connect and serve and then thank me after they get to take part in our meeting.
Your personal ministry
The next group of students you need to include are those involved in your personal ministry.
Use your weekly meeting as an opportunity to move your relationships forward with students you’re sharing your faith with.
We’ve seen involvement in our weekly meeting be used as a great way to spend extra time with people.
Whether it is preparing to be MC’s together, practicing some skit, or simply fixing up after meeting snacks, you can spend lots of time with your people if you include them.
5. Clear, Simple Gospel Presentation
Obviously the most critical part of a successful weekly meeting is a clear gospel presentation. I wouldn’t overcomplicate this.
Pick a relevant series that meets your audience where they are and make the gospel central.
In the past we have done topics like, “Behind the Movies” or “Behind the Music.” This is where we have either told stories of the musicians or shown the gospel themes behind some of the movies.
The principle here is to communicate the gospel in a way that your students can understand and connect with.
We obviously don’t change the gospel to meet them where they are, but we do work to clearly communicate it in their language.
We’ve seen that one of the best ways to show the gospel’s relevance is to tell stories of real people.
Student testimonies are one of the most impactful things we do each week.
In addition to these, we have seen that telling stories of celebrities or others offers opportunities to explain how the gospel applies to real lives.
One other element that has been helpful in following up our gospel presentation has been discussion groups immediately after the talk.
This guarantees students a chance to talk with their non-christian friends about the gospel.
Hopefully these few thoughts will serve as fuel for your weekly meeting!