We recently had a youth pastor ask us where to start with campus-based ministry. At the end of the day, our campus outreach program is based in 3 relationships:

Students: We work a ton through the Christian clubs on campus. I meet regularly with the leadership teams of each club and help them out with service projects (lunch trash pickup, writing encouraging letters to the staff, etc.) events, getting speakers, advertising, and I provide them with resources and connections. I help them think big and make sure they know that they are callable of HUGE things. I make sure I am available to help encourage them, pray with them, and help them work through any issues they might have.

Other on campus Christian organizations: The main organization in our area is Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They are awesome. They already have some roots laid out at our schools, making them a valuable ally. They recognize that they aren’t a church, so they love to point their students to local churches. So we make ourselves available to them in whatever way we can help. That could be giving them resources, providing connections, making our buildings available, prayer, or more. We help each other out. One of the things we are working on now is a leadership summit for all of the Christian club leaders in the area.

Staff/Administration: We consistently look for ways to build our relationships with schools. We are focusing right now on principals and ASB (student government) directors. Right now, I am meeting with all of the major principals and ASB directors in the area so that I am more than just a name in an email. I want to be able to build a friendship with them. I want them to know that they can trust us and that we are here to serve. Together, we brainstorm different ways that we can serve their campus, students, teachers, and staff. Besides the meetings, we have built relationships through simple things like Christmas cards. The service projects that we have done on their campuses have also been able to help our relationship.

Campus outreach is a slow build, high reward ministry. It takes time to build relationships and find a system but, once you do, the potential is limitless.

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Director at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.

During a recent brainstorm of ways to love and serve our local campuses, we decided to focus on ASB (student government). I don’t know about your schools, but our ASB teams work so hard so support and entertain their schools. Because of their hard work, we came up with a few ways to show our support:

-Encouraging Notes. As youth workers, we know how hard it can be to entertain teenagers. Unfortunately, so does ASB. It is rare for these hard working to receive praise or acknowledgement for their effort. Try to get all of the names of the student government at a school and have some of your students write letters to them. Being able to tell the ASB that they are loved and appreciated is a guaranteed win at any school.

-Event Set-Up/Clean-Up. Having your ministry as a whole be available to help them set up and tear down their events can be huge. Sometimes the events that ASB throws are  massive (i.e. dances, shows, etc.) and they require a lot of manpower to pull off. Again, we know how tiring it can be to be the first to arrive to an event and the last to leave, so we know how much it means to have someone offer to help. This is a great way to have your students be servants at their school.

-Bringing Food. This was an idea that one of our students came up with. Offering to bring a home cooked meal on a day that ASB is working late could mean the world to them. And it doesn’t always have to be some extravagant ordeal; it could even be something as simple as brownies or cookies. Putting in that effort could go a long way with showing love to the student government.

-Treat the Director. Don’t forget to include the ASB director! They are the ones that really help pull everything off! They are the ones that are empowering their students to make a difference at their schools. Many of our students’ lives have been changed by being in ASB, so it was so important to us to make that known to the directors. This could be something as easy as a Starbucks card and a handwritten note. Make sure they know how much they are appreciated and make sure they know your ministry is here to support them. Include your contact information so that they can let you know if they could ever use a hand. It is a GREAT way to build relationships with faculty!

We could not be more excited to get moving on all of these projects! Our ministry really believes in putting effort into campus outreach. It makes a huge impact on not just the campuses, but in our students as well.

Supporting ASB is one of the ways we are doing campus outreach, what is your ministry doing to serve the local high schools?

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.



Applications for our student leadership program are opening up again in a few weeks and it has me reflecting on what I look for in a student leader. Over the past week, I decided that I want our student leaders to be a leader third. Before they can be a student leader, they need to be a Christ follower first and a servant second:

1. Christ Follower
Student leaders are the ones that make things happen. But one of the first things I tell student leaders is, “this isn’t ASB.” I think it is important to make the point that they aren’t planning events and running ministries just for fun, they are doing it to help fulfill the purposes of the Church. A leader of a ministry isn’t like the leader of a club. A leader of a ministry is the spiritual leader of a group of people. In order to have a team that can be spiritual leaders of your ministry, you need to have a team of students that are pursuing the Lord. Before you say yes to putting a student in your leadership program, make sure you know what is happening in their spiritual life. Ask them questions about their relationship with the Lord, what their quiet times look like, where they are being challenged, etc. Dig deep. Don’t be afraid to talk to a spiritual leader in a student’s life or even a parent!

2. Servant
Is this student serving already? One of the mistakes that I have made is overlooking this on some applicants. In my mind, I thought, “I can help motivate them to start serving.” But that isn’t something you should have to say about a student leader. Student leaders are the ones that are already serving in your ministry. Sometimes this means saying no to popular students in your youth group. When I took a closer look at our “core” students, I found that most of them weren’t serving. Saying no to students like this might be tough, but it is a perfect opportunity to really challenge them and take them to the next level. Do be on the look out for students that are serving on ministry teams, showing up to serve projects, staying after events to clean-up, or just students that are servants in your ministry.

When I look for students that have leadership potential, I look for those two things. The more I develop our program, the harder I get on student leadership applicants. Don’t be afraid to say a few no’s. Letting in students that aren’t ready can make your program ineffective, or worse, harmful to your ministry. Saying no to some students is okay. It is healthy for your program and it is helpful to grow the student that needs to grow.

Colton Harker is the Student Leadership Coordinator at Saddleback HSM.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact him at coltonharker@gmail.com or on twitter at @ColtonHarker.