loren Eric Swanson: Five Steps to Starting Reproducible Campus Churches

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Five Steps to Starting Reproducible Campus Churches

There are a lot of good gems on this site--www.campuschurch.net

5 Steps to Starting Campus Churches that Reproduce (Adapted from Neil Cole):

1. Practice of Prayer:The first step to planting a campus church is to start on our knees. We must see what the Father is doing and simply join Him. Before we send out any campus church planter they are to seek the Lord in prayer and fasting for His direction. Prayer must precede planning. Practically, pray for God to bring you a team. You can begin to talk to other believers you know who can join you on or near campus or even flyer bulletin boards that there is a new church starting on campus. (Campus Church networks can connect you with a CCN coach to equip and mentor your team in the church planting process.)

Shortly after, start a prayer chain or begin prayer walks over an area of students the Lord is leading your team to start a campus church in. Begin to ask the Lord for the harvest and to raise up student workers from within it. Ask the Lord what are the spiritual strongholds of and in the different areas of the campus? Then pray for God to destroy the strongholds. "For our battle is not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12)." We must pray it out before we walk it out!

Campus Crusade the world largest Christian organization was started by a 24-hour prayer vigil on the UCLA campus. Founder Bill Bright decided before he would try to plan, strategize or reach out to the students, he would first pray for them. He formed a 24-hour prayer chain with college students from his local church asking God to open a door at UCLA to preach the Gospel. A short while after this prayer vigil God opened a door for Bill to preach to a sorority house where half the students gave their life to Jesus and in the following weeks 250 students on campus were saved including the Student Body President, Top Athletes, and Yearbook Editor!

2. Pockets of People:The second step is to look for "pockets of people", who are un-reached with the Gospel. In Luke 10 Jesus sent out the 70 to towns and villages (specifically the lost sheep of Israel). We are to look for the lost sheep, not those who are well, but those that are in need of a physician. Jesus came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

As a campus church planting movement we are specifically targeting pockets of students normally un-touched by other fellowships on campus. Don't try to recruit and win believers, but always focus and start with unbelievers. Go to the campus hang outs, cafes, bowling allies, fraternities, sororities, sports teams, campus clubs/organizations, local clubs, downtown, movie theaters, parks etc. Our goal is not to bring the students to the church, but the church to the students.

At San Jose State University a student from a campus fellowship began to feel God's burden for the lost young women in the sororities. So instead of trying to invite them to a campus fellowship she acted like a missionary and brought the fellowship to them by joining the sorority! She is now a leader in the sorority and leading her sorority sisters to Christ!

3. Power of Presence: The third step is to simply "show up." Jesus commanded His disciples to "Go" and make disciples, not wait for them to come to a church building. As we pray and are led by the Holy Spirit to pockets of un-reached students, we are to then show up and befriend those lost groups of students. The most effective way of befriending a lost group of students is by serving and caring for their needs. We do this before we share with them the Gospel, by finding out their needs and meeting them. For example, college students are hungry for a good meal, so hold free dinners. If the international students want to practice their English, hang out and talk English with them. Whatever it may be, meet the students felt needs. So we pray for them, we then care for them & when the door of opportunity opens we share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ!

Jesus sent out the 70 telling them to take nothing with them. We should not be hindered in our church planting and evangelism because we don't have a facility, staff or finances. The resources are in the harvest field, our job is to show up, preach the Kingdom, pray for the sick, deliver the oppressed and expect God to open a dorm, apartments, classroom, caf鬠or home etc for us to start a campus church.

In Cal State Long Beach a campus church planter started praying for students near the school art building. Pretty soon he developed friendships with students in the art department and eventually led them to Christ on the front lawn of the Art Department. They ended up meeting each week on the front lawn for church! That campus church ended up planting 8 more churches at Cal State Long Beach University.

4. Person of Peace: The fourth step is to find the person of peace or the student of peace within the pocket of students. Jesus said to his disciples to go into the town and villages looking for the person who would welcome the gospel and open up their home. The student of peace is critical, because they will be the indigenous leader to win that community of lost students. They become the conduit for passing the kingdom message to the entire community of friends. Could you imagine if you won the leader of the fraternity to Christ, the whole frat could follow & come to Christ!
A person of peace is?(student of peace)
--Receptive: They are open to the message of the person and peace of Christ.
--Relational Connections: They know lots of students on campus and in the community
--Reputation: They are people of reputation good or bad (Cornelius/Samaritan Women)
--Reborn: They are normally a seeker whom you win to the Lord and are born again.

In San Francisco State University a campus fellowship led a star-wrestling player to Christ and very soon the same star wrestler led almost the entire SFSU wrestling team to Christ also! Look for the natural student leaders who already have influence with other students on campus.

5. People of Purpose:The fifth step is as the student of peace brings his/her friends and family to Christ a church is born. The uniqueness of this birth is the church was born out of the harvest and is found among the harvest and is bent on a mission to continue to reach the lost as its main purpose. The student of peace could have the new church meet in his/her home, apartment, dorm or wherever is convenient on or near campus and may be even the new leader of the emerging church.

The key is once the new church is born on campus it is imperative for the campus church planter to work his/her way out of the new church plant by modeling & training the new emerging student leader to lead & pastor the new campus church. In this way, the new campus church will not be dependent on the church planter to pastor them, but they will indigenously take responsibility to lead themselves and reproduce leaders of their own kind naturally.

This kind of a church is not hindered by cultural Christianity (where it becomes a social club) or a church that is dependent on a full time pastor/staff, because the students from the start learn how to reach their friends, depend on God, each other and don't know any better than to follow Jesus and expect Him to save their friends, family and ultimately the nations!

In Los Angeles a major campus ministry realized their full time campus staff members did not have enough capacity to manage 8-10 campuses by themselves. In order to remedy this problem they took the above "student of peace" approach and started campus fellowships by winning students of peace & empowering them to win their lost friends immediately. Once a fellowship was formed the campus staff would model for the new student leader how to lead the campus ministry. After a short while the staff member would coach the student of peace from a distance so they would lead or pastor the new campus fellowship and reproduce likewise. This approach worked so well this ministry has since adopted this model and growth has exploded exponentially on different campuses. If they were still relying on full time campus staff workers to manage & lead all the different campus ministries they would never have the capacity to reach so many campuses with such effectiveness.

Evangelistic Tools:
There are many tools for evangelism that have proven effective in church history. Our philosophy is to not choose anyone over another, but to work with what works. We may use a variety of methods to win the person of peace on campus and his/her networks of friends and family. Possible methods to be used are:
--Prayer evangelism: Prayer, Care, Share
--Power evangelism: Praying for signs, wonders and miracles
--Persuasion evangelism: Handing out tracks, 4 spiritual laws or other creative Gospel materials --Proclamation evangelism: Holding evangelistic rallies, open air preaching during school
--Personal evangelism: Befriending them, inviting unbelievers to, free dinner, coffee, cell meeting etc
--Pasta evangelism: AKA: Alpha dinners 10 week intro to Christianity, seeker Bible study / forum, etc.
--Prophetic evangelism: dream & vision interpretation, word of knowledge or prophetic booths on campus at Starbucks.
--Present evangelism: Use whatever present creative means to be culturally relevant in sharing the gospel in a way they can understand.


At Monday, September 26, 2005 6:56:00 AM, Blogger Rich Swanson said...

Eric, great article. I think we get tripped up on the 'person of peace' and look instead for a Christian who has been involved in a youth group. In the short run it can be a win because we have something to show sooner. In the long run though, the Christian kid usually gathers more Christians into a medium sized Bible study and calls that the movement. Carol Davis really emphasizes that the person of peace does not know Jesus yet because it is partly the visible life transformation that makes the message so compelling. - Rich

At Wednesday, September 28, 2005 2:41:00 PM, Blogger tony said...

Hi Eric,
I agree - great tangible ideas about a person of peace. Very helpful to me. I linked to your post.


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