Gig Student Ministry
5 Choices for ministering to a Transient Group
Do you struggle to grow your ministry in the midst of a transient population?
Several years back I had a friend who decided to start a college ministry in our town. We have a college in our town, but we don’t have a single church who has been able to maintain a strong and vibrant college program. I thought my friend might have a chance because he was only slightly older than most of the students he was trying to reach, he was well schooled, and he knew people on campus. Still, it wasn’t long before this ministry too, fell prey to the transience of the students.
Maybe you find yourself in a military town. While the military is more likely to let people stay in one location and build a home, than it used to be, the reality is that a community largely populated by military is going to have a transient culture.
How do we build into leaders, who are always leaving?
Here are 5 choices that I think can help.
1. Embrace it – While it would be nice to think that you somehow can stem the tide of the culture in which you live, it is better to ride the wave.
If you want to disciple people in the Lord to become mature believers it takes time. If you don’t have time what do you do? All you can and trust God with the rest.
As Paul says in I Corinthians 3:6-9, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (NIV)
When you embrace the fact that you are not going to get to do all the work to build one soul, you will change the way you do ministry to be more effective.
2. Pray – When you know that sheep will leave your care with only a few years or even months of training, it can be hard to center your life and heart in them. Still, a vibrant prayer ministry will allow you to stay connected by the Spirit to souls you may not be able to follow otherwise.
3. Focus on the Majors – If you know that many of those you are serving are only going to be around for 6 weeks. Give them the best you can for 6 weeks.
If you have a year. Plan to get as much training available as you can in a year.
Finding shorter studies has gotten easier with the passage of time, so grab what’s available, or write your own, but know that time is of the essence so focus on the majors.
Your preaching plan and life group design needs to be very flexible to give the best you can in short bursts.
4. Think Missionary – Throughout the country we have organizations that focus on getting people ready for the mission field. They do short term training with long term results. If you find yourself in a transient culture you can learn from other organizations like these, how to prepare and send out.
When you shift you mindset, it will shift your intensity, and focus what you do to greater results. Your job is to grow those who are in your care, so they are ready to be missionaries for the Kingdom, wherever God takes them next.
5. Use Technology – Over the last two years I have had the joy of reigniting a friendship that had ended 30 years ago. It didn’t end because my friend and I were mad, but because I moved away. Technology has allowed us to reignite our friendship, and begin to find a new one together.
If you set the standard early of communicating through technology, when people leave your vicinity they can stay connected. Your effectiveness as a leader is no longer predicated on who is in your Sunday services each week, but on who you can influence for the Kingdom of God the other 167 hours of the week.
Use Facebook, Instagram, texting, phone calls, Hangouts, FaceTime, whatever you can to build and grow those in your sphere of influence. Today the sphere can be the size of the whole earth.
Also, because technology surrounds us, so much of the time, write a letter, with a stamp and everything. The letter will have more influence than an email, I promise.
The world is changing, and people will come and go, but your ability to impact them with eternity has never been stronger. Raise up disciples one gig at a time.