Availability & Engagement

Two weeks ago I challenged a key leader I’m discipling on one of our English campuses to attempt getting a second appointment when she was out sharing, with the goal of developing trust and learn engagement. As we talked about what might have to change in our perspective on sharing if we aim for a second appointment I could see her eyes flickering in thought. I knew exactly where her brain was going.

“I guess the hard thing is, if you keep getting second appointments that takes up your time that you think you don’t have,” I pointed out.

“Yeah, exactly,” she admitted.

Being a key leader in an increasingly student-led movement I knew she had precious little extra time.

“That should make us wonder about our motives in evangelism, shouldn’t it? I mean if we’re going around for one-off convos to pat ourselves on the back, not aiming for anything more because we don’t have time…”

She nodded. I had never thought about this before and I know neither had she.

Fast-forward to the present. I asked her how her second meeting went with the girl she ended up getting a second appointment with the day after we had talked about it.

“I cancelled it. I just didn’t have time. I know that’s bad…” she trailed off.

If our students don’t have time to engage with other students who are open to these conversations I say we have one of two problems:

  • either our student doesn’t prioritize evangelism in their life, or
  • our leaders have too many meetings that are taking them away from actually meeting with people who want to talk about Jesus and faith.

In the case of this student I know that the first one isn’t the problem. She loves EV and loves taking other students sharing. What she does have is a Servant Team meeting, a meeting with the staff director so he knows hats going on in the ministry and he can help her lead, a discipleship appt with me, 2 discipleship appointments with people she’s leading, a DG she’s leading, and a weekly meeting. The other ST members only have one less meeting and maybe one less “disciple.”

My instinct is to say that if our students have too many things pulling at their time that, even if they did want these second appointments, they’d feel so overwhelmed by all their other responsibilities… we have too many meetings for them. Maybe we need to figure out how to streamline things better and make them more organic.

This is easier to do when it’s staff-led. Student leaders have more time actually on the ground. But as a ministry we are moving more urgently towards Student-led, staff-directed movements as we expand significantly.

So here are my questions: how do we maximize our students time to enable them to really engage, while maintaining a student-led movement? What, if anything, needs to change? Is it simply a reality our student leaders have to face that they just wont get time to actually do evangelism? If that’s the case, if a student loves evangelism why would they ever want to be in a position of leadership, even if they’re a sharp and capable leader?

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5 thoughts on “Availability & Engagement

  1. Steph says:

    great thoughts, jess! i really like how you’ve clearly portrayed one the tensions of many campus ministries. we’ve found this too so we’ve made major changes in the last few years to free our students as much as possible to be doing evangelism. we don’t have a Servant Team, we have minimal “positions” (Ie various student coordinators or student teams). we don’t require our AGLs (what we call DGLs) that they must attend an AGs themselves but as they’re working with other students and growing in Ev, they’re the ones asking to join one.
    we’re trying to focus on giving students vision and training for Ev, and then equipping them to lead others in Ev.. this has become one of our greatest priorities.. over student positions, even over *discipleship. we’re finding amongst all the guys in our ministry (first yrs up to graduating), i’d say 80-90% of them are weekly or regularly doing evangelism. percentage is lower on the girls side- we’re working on it.

    *we do discipleship a little differently too but that’s another time perhaps.

  2. Russ says:

    Steph/Jess, great discussion. I love how you are wrestling with making sure we are doing the “right things”. Things that move us towards our missional objectives because they work, not just because we’ve always done them.

    Please continue to model doing what works!

    It’s sad to think that we can easily get into a routine of going to meetings and miss out on opportunities that God has for us with second appointments etc…

  3. Jess,
    I really appreciate this post. As a Team Leader I often would keep my best evangelists out of our positions of leadership because it would limit the time they would actually be able to spend with people they were engaging.
    I think we really need to learn what it means to disciple others in the context of evangelism. Many people fill their schedule with discipleship that is focused either on only biblical knowledge or trying to convince people to do evangelism rather than doing ev with them and developing a relationship that builds them up and encourages them to change the world. Good thoughts.

  4. Brad says:

    Could she have set that second appointment during one of her discipleship meetings? Echoing Brent’s comment, we can often synergize evangelism and discipleship.

    That said, I definitely feel the same pinch on student leaders time. It seems students are so much busier than when I was at university…

  5. Jess V says:

    @brad I’m not sure if that never occurred to her or if she thought it was weird to have her disciple there at the same time.

    @brent, you’re right that does clear up part of the problem I was mentioning. I guess in my mind it doesn’t solve the greater issue of when our movements reach a certain size and they’re student-led. Who will over see the women’s/men’s DGs? Will they have enough time to do all that and still have a vibrant evangelism-focused life on campus?

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