Archives For Fall

When it comes to the fall in college ministry, as Paul Worcester has said – It’s All About the Contacts!

Because of that, a lot of thought and time has gone into crafting a perfect spiritual interest survey: how to throw the net broadly but not so broadly so as to become useless.

We aim to survey about 3,000 students in the first two days of school.

The problem we run into, with our team of 4 staff and several dozen student leaders= we can’t get to all 3,000 contacts immediately.

A good survey can go a long way to helping you filter through thousands of contacts and find the students who are most spiritually interested.

For our campus – we are aiming to follow up with spiritually interested non-Christians. On a campus in the buckle of the Bible belt, that can be a bit of a challenge.

Here’s our card (here’s the photoshop-editable pdf file so you can edit it and make it your own; after you download it, right click and select “open with Photoshop”):

We will text all students who indicated interest (a ‘maybe’ or ‘yes’ on their card).

But we want to get face to face with all 3-‘maybes’. Why? Because those are typically spiritually interested non-Christians. We took off “Maybe” for years. But recently put it back on to try to hit that spiritually-indecisive-but-curious student.

A couple years ago we ditched “email” and “dorm address” – both came across creepy. And we never email anyway.


At Cleveland Cru, Brian Metzer and his team recently changed their survey:

We simplified our survey a lot. We wanted to be less “survey-y,” more “we’d like to get to know you,” more positive filtering, less transactional, and tell us less so we went in with fewer preconceived ideas on the first appt.

Did you see an increase in the number of follow up appts?

About the same, and maybe even a little less. But qualitatively better. The non-believers we met with were more open. It felt less like we were tricking people into an appt. and we could genuinely get to know them. This also meant that we felt more likelihood of connecting again so less pressure to push ahead through the gospel on the first (and only) appt.

I think our goal shifted too. In our metro context [city-wide; focused on multiple campuses] we needed to surface not just people to meet with but hungry people to meet with. This has helped.

Cleveland Cru’s Survey:

At Michigan Cru, they’ve made some contextualized adaptations to their survey:

This is our card for Fraternity Pledge talks:

Katie Smith (Cru Team Leader in Eastern Iowa) on one change they’re making this year:

We are adding a place for their Snapchat username (student leaders said students are more quick to give that out & to respond that way for follow up – it’ll be the first time trying it, so we’ll see how it works!)

On a similar topic- on the Collegiate Collective discussion on Facebook (highly recommend joining that group, btw), someone asked what methods of communication students prefer. In these college ministers’s (very reputable) opinions:

  • not email
  • text is still king for reaching new people
  • snapchat and instagram for ministry-wide communication
  • groupme for internal communication with leaders

We have found all of that to be true on our campus.

The main idea from all these surveys:

  • Tailor your survey for the
    • audience you are trying to reach. Is it predominantly secular? Bible belt?
    • how many people you want to meet with. Do you want a really tight filter because you don’t have the capacity to follow up that many people (you just want to meet face to face with the “fish ready to jump in the boat”?) Or do you want a really broad filter that will leave the door open for you to contact as many people as possible?

Would love to see what surveys your team uses – link to them in the comments!

It’s Harvest Time

August 9, 2018 — Leave a comment

As we head into the most critical weeks in college ministry – the first few weeks of the fall – this is great to read and discuss with your team.

We all have a vague awareness that Harvest Time is a critical period in farming. But what exactly does it entail?

Here are two snapshots of the importance and urgency of harvest season in modern farming communities:

Day in the Life of Harvest, Perspective of a Farm Wife

We can’t harvest when it’s still dewy and moist outside, because wet crops clog the equipment, so our day usually begins around 8 or 8:30 in the morning.

We take that time to fuel up the trucks and harvest equipment, making sure everything is in the right place. Once we start each day, we work as long as we can.

Most days, that means people are in combines and trucks until as late as midnight. We keep a healthy stock of energy drinks on hand to help keep our team motivated and alert.

During harvest, we have come to expect the unexpected. We are running combines with thousands of moving parts. Breakdowns and replacements are expected. And even though we expect them to happen, they can sometimes be a big deal.

Harvest is a special time of year for us. It’s our main project where we get to see all the work we did up to that point. We also get our one paycheck, so it’s a really big deal.

What parallels do you see to college ministry?


It seems like farmers are in a race to get harvest finished. You might hear about farmers working from dawn until well after sunset – sometimes working 18 hour days or longer – to get their crops harvested. Why does harvest happen so fast?


Everything sort of shuts down in rural America during harvest season. [There’s still counties in America that call off school for the weeks of harvest – in one county in Maine, schools are closed Sept. 21 until Oct. 10.]

But what’s the big rush? THE CROPS ARE READY

Farmers wait until their crops reach a certain stage of dryness to harvest them. This means that moisture content inside the corn kernel or soybean (or any other crop like wheat, canola, or sunflowers) has to be just right – low enough, but not too low. Farmers are watching and waiting for these plants to be dry enough before they harvest them.


If soybean plants get too dry, there can be big problems. The bean pods can open and the soybeans will fall out onto the ground. Have you ever tried to pick popcorn kernels out of your carpet? That’s what it’s like when soybeans fall onto the ground… except the soybeans are well-camouflaged against the dirt. Which means that they are lost. If the pods do stay closed, the beans can get so dry that they shatter into tiny pieces when they are harvested. Those pieces are lost, as well.


Farmers have a very small window when they can harvest their crops. When the plants say they are ready and the weather is cooperating, it’s time to go, no matter what else is going on.

Again- What similarities do you see to the first weeks of the fall in college ministry?

Paul Worcester sums it up well in his 2014 article on

Every year countless new students flood onto college campuses. Proverbs 10:5 says,“A wise youth harvests in the summer, but one who sleeps during the harvest is a disgrace.” College ministry has very clear seasons; the beginning of each semester is harvest time. It’s not time to work on your support raising. It’s not time to catch up on your reading. Eternity is hanging in the balance. It’s not time to find a balance in your schedule. There’s a field of new students waiting to be harvested. Will you harvest them? Or will you sleep through it?