Finding New Students
Have a Presence on Campus: Make sure it is easy for students to find your Adventist group. If your name does not have ‘Adventist’ in it, you will have to make sure there is Adventist somewhere on your promotional material and group page. By this, Adventist students will easily be able to find you.
Ask the University: Some universities still collect the religious preference of students when they enroll at the university. Sometimes it is a non-profit organization. You can ask your student activities office if this information is collected and how to access the contact information of Adventist students attending your school. You may need your pastor to write a letter depending on the policy of the school or organization.
Visit Local Churches: If you live in an area where there is more than one church, make sure to visit other local churches the first Sabbath of the year. Leave club information with the greeters letting them know when you meet and contact information. Make sure to attend your local church regularly. This is will help you find students who may be “off the radar” but decide to attend church later in the year.
Register Your Club with https://acfregister.com/: This will help students who are coming from out of state to find your organization. You many need to set up an account, but this may also potentially help to find international students enrolling at your school.
Retaining New Students
Contact Information: Find out where they are staying (on or off campus) and connect them with Adventists who live near them. Make sure they are added to your weekly communication (GroupMe, WhatsApp, Group Text, email, etc.) and follow up to see if they received the message.
Know the Student: If the only time the student hears from you is when you are inviting them to an event, chances of them coming will decrease significantly.
Build a Relationship: Find out the new students’ major, if they are grad or transfer, where they came from, birthday, how they are feeling about their classes, if they need help navigating campus, etc. Find a way to message them sometime during the week to see how their classes are going.
Meet with Them: Spend time with them outside of regularly schedule meetings. Ask them if they want to meet up for lunch or dinner. Study together in your favorite spot on campus. Pray for God to lead the conversation. Give them freedom to share how their family, school, personal life is going. Pray for God to give you wisdom to
Pray for them: Pray for them by name and ask if they have any prayer requests. For example, if they say they have a big test and ask for prayer, follow up with them after the test to see how things went. ASK them if they would like to be official members.
Training New Students
This is assuming you have done the previous two areas: found and retained the students.
Build spiritual conversations: Make it a habit that after you talk that you pray together. Since the goal is for spiritual growth, this happens through personal conversations. Share what you have been learning in your devotions or even your struggles with the understanding that you know God will help you.
Regular Training: Once you have a regular meeting established and people attending, consider having a training time for those who want to learn how to study the Bible, give Bible studies, share their faith, etc. This is a great resource for training. The topics include, how to find God’s purpose for your life, how to be a disciple for Christ, how to study the Bible, and more: DiscipleshipCourse. Remember that time is precious, this may be good for a Sabbath Afternoon training, Sunday morning, but find a regular time that is brief no more than 30-45 min each week for training. Invite the new students to attend this training.
Build Ownership: One time when you are meeting up outside of your classes, ask them what they think of the weekly meetings, church, etc. Ask if they see an area that is working well or one that needs improvement. This will take some vulnerability on your part because they may have some good insight that may critique how student ministry is run. However, as you prayerfully listen, this is where you can ask them for solutions and if they would be willing to help in the area they see needs improvement.
Discover Their Interests: Some students like to do crafts, post inspirational quotes on Instagram, create videos, make people feel welcome, or speak another language. Ask them if they have thought of using their interest to serve others.
Ask for a Commitment: As you get to know them, ask them to do tasks in proportion to their ability and interest. For example, printing fliers for the club, helping with sound, reading a scripture, posting an inspiration quote on your club’s Facebook page each week, visiting a student with you, joining when giving a personal Bible study, etc. Continue to pray for God’s guidance and ask them if they would be interested in doing additional or other things.