The following is an excerpt from my book Campus Renewal – A Practical Plan to Unite Campus Ministries in Prayer and Evangelism.
One of the first things we do is ask the leaders to give their best guess at the number of students on their campus involved in a campus ministry, how many campus ministries are on campus, how many students put their faith in Christ in a given year, and how many missional communities they would need in order to reach every student community on campus.
We have them write down their answers separately before we compare their best guesses. In some cases they have very similar answers. Most often, however, their answers are quite different from one another. Usually the larger ministries have a more positive perception of what God is doing on campus, whereas the smaller ministries’ guesses are much lower.
It makes sense that the groups having hundreds in attendance at worship each week would assume that other groups are experiencing the same thing. The same would be true for the ministries that are struggling.
The Spiritual State of the Your Campus
The truth about what God is doing on campus, however, can never really be discovered until the leaders from various ministries are in trusting relationships with one another — the type of relationships where they can share what God is doing in their ministries and be free from comparison, envy, and pride. An accurate account of the four simple questions we ask campus leaders cannot be measured until every ministry is at the table with a posture of humility and a vision to work as one Body to reach every student on campus.
Back in 2002, after a united time of prayer and discussion, we (campus ministers at UT) felt God was directing us toward taking the next step of spiritual mapping. We had little to go on as reference points. Sure, every ministry did some sort of assessment of their work at the end of the year, and many ministries had some sort of year-end report that they were required by their churches and organizations to complete.
For some, however, these organizational reports measured and valued things their local ministry did not care to measure because they did not fit the context of campus ministry at UT or were based on older campus ministry philosophies. The possibility of creating our own spiritual map was exciting because we could ask the questions that we thought were most important. We could define success and ask the questions we collectively thought could help measure that success.
Simple Campus Surveys
That year we did two simple surveys. First, we created a year-end report for every campus ministry to complete, so we could get an accurate picture of the whole Body of Christ at UT. This survey let us know how many students were involved in campus ministry, how many students were in leadership within campus ministries, how many students had put their faith in Christ that year, the composition of ministries by ethnicity and classification, which unbelieving communities were being reached by campus ministries, and much more.
Second, we created a survey for the Christian students within our ministries to help us understand where we needed to focus our discipleship efforts. This survey asked questions about where students lived, how often they shared their faith, how often they prayed and read the Bible, their spiritual background, their activities outside our campus ministries, how many campus ministries they were a part of, and more.
We administered these surveys at the end of the spring semester, and over the summer I wrote an executive summary of the data, compiling it into a publication we called the Longhorn Chronicles.