Ten years ago, campus ministry leaders at the University of Texas began asking that question. It wasn’t that it had never been asked. It was that ministries had never really worked together to in a systematic way to measure the work of God on campus. Individual ministries filled out year-end reports to their organizations and denominations, but never had leaders come together to talk about what they wanted to know about God’s work on their campus let alone create their own survey to find out. In 2001 we did just that, and we have done so every year since. Any campus can do the same with a few simple steps.
Campus Ministry Database
To stat with, you need a list of every campus ministry and church that is reaching students on your campus. In addition, you need to contact information of at least one person in each ministry. Start by contacting each ministry representative to explain the heart and vision behind the surveys and ask if they would be willing to complete the survey by the agreed upon deadline. Finally, invite them to be part of creating the survey too.
Conversations and Creating Surveys
Gathering the ministry leaders that said they would like to be part of the team that creates the survey. The more you have the better because it fosters ownership, and it helps to be able to say, “a team of ministry leaders created this survey.” Start with a dry erase board and make a list of the information you wish you knew. Then decide what items seem most important and create questions that articulate what you would like to ask. Here is where it is important to be brief, especially if it is you first year to do this. Start by asking about 10 questions from each ministry. You’ll find that most will make time for a short survey.
Distribute and Collect the Surveys
To be honest, this is the hardest part. To really know all that God is doing on your campus, you really need everyone to complete the surveys. So it takes a diligent and kind man or woman to communicate with each campus ministry leader and to follow up with those who have not complete the survey in time. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it. We have found that it helps to get the surveys out a week or two before classes end, because some ministry leaders head out on mission trips shortly after classes end and then are no longer available.
Present the Results
This is the best part. Set a date months in advance to share the results of the survey. Invite all who participated to come and hear/see the results. It is best to have hard copies for everyone and a clear presentation prepared. Pepper the presentation of data with Q & A and round table discussion about the results. This gives people a chance to get to know one another and share about their perspective on what God is doing on campus. If the sharing time is led well, it creates a rhythm where everyone will become eager to complete the survey each year because they realize what a blessing the information is to their ministry. Thus, you can add more and more questions to discover more and more information that directs your prayers and your mission.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the misssonal community movement at the University of Texas.