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Summer 2008 Rapport: From the Leadership Files

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The student-friendly church


by Harvey Herman (M.A. 1980) is the Northeast area regional director for Chi Alpha.

I have discovered one thing to be true about Christian university students—they vote with their feet. They care little about organizational loyalty. Instead, they attend a church that meets their felt needs. I have been fortunate to be involved with three excellent, student-friendly churches. Collegians eagerly attended and highly valued the pastors, church members and services.

Why did collegians come to these churches? They used an “open-hand” rather than a “closed-grip” approach to students. The church leadership recognized the university as a strategic mission field in their city, and they further realized that the best person to reach a student for Christ was another student. So they resourced students to go as Christ’s ambassadors to their university mission field.

Does this sound like a one-way street? The students attend church on Sunday morning, and the people in the church love, teach, feed, transport and serve them. On the surface it appears so. But after a deeper investigation of these student-friendly churches, I found that they share a common culture and approach to ministry. The following highlights this common culture.

Churches who reach students are relational and authentic.

  • Churches who reach students continually refresh their tactics for the spiritual development of people.
  • Churches who reach students understand larger cultural shifts.
  • Churches who reach students are diverse.
  • Churches who reach students demonstrate effective evangelism strategies.
  • Churches who reach students practice effective change management.
  • Churches who reach students think missionally.

Remember, a student-friendly church is missional, relational, authentic and substantive. If you become a student-friendly church, you will reach both students and the unchurched. You and your church will be blessed.

Updated: Friday, August 8, 2008 1:24 PM

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