Follow Ups – How to Actually get Face to Face with Freshmen

August 4, 2014 — 1 Comment

After you get thousands of contact cards, what do you do with them?

Alan Mitchell tweeted to me on Friday:

freshmen in dorm room

Question 1: How soon do you start following up?

  • We start immediately. We do the majority of our surveys on Tuesday and Wednesday the first week of class – timed to coincided with our first Cru meeting of the year (on Tuesday) and our freshmen Bible studies in every dorm (on Wednesday). So as they are filling out the survey on Tuesday, we are inviting them to the Cru meeting that night.
  • On Wednesday we get as many student leaders together as possible for a Follow Up Party at 6pm. We feed them dinner and split into groups to pray for the freshmen. Then we hand each dorm (students leading freshmen studies in each dorm) a printout of everyone who checked “I want more info about a Bible study”. The students then call and text everyone on that list and invite them to the freshmen Bible study in their dorm that night at 8pm. At 7pm the students go (with a freshmen escort they’ve met during move-in week) into the dorms and knock on doors of everyone that checked “yes – Bible study” (as well as inviting anyone with their door open).
  • After that initial Tuesday/Wednesday push we spend every afternoon as a staff team in the dorms calling and getting appointments.

Question 2: How do you follow up with them?

Last week, Chris McKinney – Cru MTL (Missional Team Leader) at Mizzou – emailed along the lines of Alan’s second question:

We have had a really hard time getting appointments from cards. Even from the “Yes, Yes, Yes” ones. We text them, email, then text again and try and stop by their dorms. I’m hoping maybe MissionHub will help and it’s been a card organization thing
but I’m kinda stumped. We do about 2000 freshmen surveys at tables so we have a lot. 

I feel like it could be the evidence of a changing culture but also want to see what you’ve experienced and what works well for you. It’s to the point where we celebrate just getting an appointment.

Our team has had similar troubles and have experimented a lot. Let’s pool our wisdom – I’d love to hear what’s working for your teams (in the comments).

Here’s what we’ve come up with on our campus (with pretty good success).

Overall Goals in Follow up

  • Train leaders to do future follow-up (multiplication)
    • Staff do what we are good at – initiate and boldly share the gospel. So our first priority (more important than getting to the freshmen) is actually modeling to our student leaders how to do a follow up (AND how to set up an appointment by boldly making phone calls) so they can then do follow ups on their own and train other students.
    • We then pass off key contacts to students who are good pursuers. As we pair up with student leaders to follow up, the student leaders take the relational baton and are the ones relationally pursuing after the first follow up.
  • Share the Gospel with everyone we meet with (Either they don’t know Jesus or they’re a legit Christian and they want to know about Cru and here is the essence of what we are about)
  • Relationally connect new students to the movement and ultimate goal= get them in a Bible study
    • Getting them in a Bible study usually happens after several more relational touchpoint


Making the Call

  • Be bold, assume they want to meet with us (in how we talk to them)
  • Missed call, then send text and tell them you’ll call later (don’t leave a voicemail).
  • Sample:
    • “Hey is this John? Alright cool well this is Erik with Cru. I’m calling because you filled out one of our survey cards at the Chick-fil-A table. Do you remember doing that? Cool well on that card you said that you wanted more info about a Bible study. Are you around right now – I’m in the lobby and would love to grab 15 minutes with you.”
    • If no (insert lame excuse- “nah, I have a class in 40 minutes. I have to take a nap…”) – “OK- I will be on campus tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday. Which one works better for you? Sounds good I will see you then.”


General Tips

  • Go in pairs – always take a student with you
  • After modeling it with a student leader, challenge them to take another student tomorrow to do follow up
  • Smile- remember their name
  • Be confident- it’s only as awkward as you make it (you’re setting the norm for their college experience. Everyone in college talks about God!)
  • Have the student leader set up a second “appointment” – basketball tomorrow, “I’ll pick you up for Cru on Tuesday”, “we’re going caving this weekend – want to go?”

You can download our Follow Up Cheat Sheet. It has everything listed above, as well as what we actually say on the appointment (too much content to share here!). Feel free to edit that Word document and make it your own.

I’d love to hear what’s working for your teams – how do you get face to face with freshmen?


image courtesy of Zach Dunn


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  • Jeff Woolstenhulme

    What happened this past year for us was a low rate of return and just expect that.
    It was our first time surveying and we had 250 students fill out surveys. From those 250 we had about 25 appointments. So there was overall at 10% rate of return from those. And considering we didn’t call all 250 it was even a little better.

    We would also call them the same day we got their contact cards so it was very easy to make the connection with when they gave us their information. We try and buy them lunch (which may mean you have 3 lunches in one day… Eat small!) and that seems to disarm them quite a bit.

    I think the no voicemails thing is key. Having a personal text set and ready to go is getting down on their level.