We're just about to start the most important two, three, and four weeks of the year - the beginning of school. What we do during those weeks sets the tone for the year. Here are a few suggestions.
Let folks know you exist
Update your information at the three national data bases. Consider having an e-mail just for the ministry and have it set up to automatically forward to your e-mail account. That way, inquirers will always be able to contact someone. If you’ve moved, it can be shifted to your replacement. If you have a 9 month contract, it can go to someone who can respond. E-mail is going to connect you with adults. Your students consider e-mail what the college administration uses. That’s why you need Facebook.
Have a Face book Page with a name which includes Presbyterian and Your institution, e.g. “Presbyterian Campus Ministry at Confused State” Then have a Face book Group with your group’s name, e.g. “ W-House” See PACHEM's web page on this.
Check that your web site is current. Remember that students will only visit your page just to get initial info. After that they will use Facebook. Mostly it will be parents of your students, institution faculty and staff, and your ministry mentors who will re-visit the web page.
Contact nearby presbyteries and ask them to ask churches to send you the names and e-mails of anyone from their congregations coming to your institution. It's not too late to do this! Some congregations may only now know their student's fall plans.
Have a visible on-campus presence at the beginning of the semester.
Meet new students and their families at Move-In Day and Activities Fairs. Some suggestions are : local churches bake cookies for you, bags have your Facebook address; have stamped envelopes with a sheet of paper with encouragement to write home (and send cookies to their campus minister); give out cold bottles of water; rent a snow cone machine and let folks choose their flavors (all flavors are welcome at our ministry); have a bowl of Smarties with a sign making some connection with your ministry; a small handout with dining hall hours, wellness center hours, and your ministry event times. …… others? Let's share!
Involve as many upperclass as you can in welcoming. Have a few of your leaders specifically “friend” new students. Have them offer help and advice in settling in, and invite the new students to your opening meeting.
Consciously look to the margins. What students aren't getting the same welcome as the "typical" incoming First Years? Transfer students, older students, veterans, international students, differently-abled, etc. What can your ministry do to be welcoming to them?
Get your priorities right before you begin
You, your board, and your student leaders commit to praying for the in-coming students for their first two weeks on campus.
Have your Leadership Team agree upon a goal for the first two weeks (in addition to the focused prayer above)
God bless you and your ministries during this most important time.
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