Within a couple days in the middle of the spring semester, the coronavirus pandemic caused the departure of university students from all American colleges. All twenty million of them! As a result, Chi Alpha directors began to ask what ministry will look like in the fall semester.
We immediately polled 150 local Chi Alpha groups to discover their university’s plans for reopening this fall. Of the ten potential scenarios posed to them, four emerged as the most likely scenarios. Using the four most likely scenarios, sixty-five local Chi Alpha directors and their leadership teams, who are known for their creativity and innovation, were nominated to give their perspectives and tell us what they sensed the Lord is saying as it pertains to the likely scenario for their campus.
From those responses we compiled a forty-nine-page guide, “Leading in a Pandemic: Chi Alpha Campus Ministries Teams Share Their Wisdom.”
The typical situation our local directors will face in the fall are social distancing guidelines and reduced maximums for meeting size. We anticipate most colleges will cap a meeting of any kind on campus to
thirty people. That being the case, the primary strategy for this fall
will be “Be Great at Being Small.”
The venues on campus just became smaller. The energy we previously placed into large group gatherings, like setting up sound systems, worship equipment, banners, et al., normally mobilized a small army. Now instead, we will pour all our energy into our discipleship small groups and to informal times of social fellowship. We see this as a welcome challenge.
We have learned that fast growth is often shallow. There are easy ways to attract a crowd of students. But when heat is applied, rapid growth often wilts just as fast as it grew. It is so tempting to seek breadth while neglecting depth. We know Jesus prunes a vine to remove quick growth to promote long-lasting fruitfulness.
So, if our access to students is more limited, we need to be more intentional and purposeful when we meet together. We must not make recreation and re-creation mutually exclusive. When we meet individually with a student, we will aim to make a meaningful and memorable connection. We believe, when you go deep, and you give it time, it will go wide.
All views expressed on this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, U.S.A., U.S. Missions, and The General Council of the Assemblies of God.