For several weeks I have been writing about the eight practices of missional communities, what Campus Renewal Ministries calls “Spark Groups.” These eight practices are described with greater detail in CRM’s Spark Course, which trains missional community leaders.
Reproduce Spark Groups
The final practice of a Spark Group is reproduction. The aim of a missional community movement is to saturate the campus with Christian communities. This will never happen if groups do not multiply themselves. Thankfully, in a college setting there are many opportunities for multiplication.
This is the blessing and the curse of campus ministry: about 25% of students leave every year and the other 75% often move, change majors, join other organizations etc. Missional community leaders can count this as a blessing and look at these changes as opportunities to multiply.
If you lead a missional community in a dorm, raise up leaders who will stay in the dorm and lead the missional community there. For those not staying in the dorm, encourage them to start missional communities in their apartment complexes. Choose a place to live based on your mission.
At the University of Texas, for instance, some apartment complexes have tons of international students living there. Students wanting to reach international students have moved into these apartment complexes.
Another way to multiply your missional community is to sharpen its focus. Some missional communities start with too large of a people group and could maximize their impact by multiplying into smaller people groups.
The business school at UT, for instance, has more than 5000 students. The missional community in the business school has increased their focus by starting smaller missional communities in the Asian American Business Student Association (about 100 members) and the Masters in Accounting program (about 100 students in the program).
Sometimes the leadership team in a missional community can simply get too large. While a growing group is exciting, for the sake of reaching the campus, growing missional communities should commission some on their team to start missional communities elsewhere on campus.
Identify where two or more students share a different common people group and commission them to start a new missional community among that new people group. This kind of reproduction may seem painful at the time of commissioning, but it is part of the cost of reaching your campus with the gospel.
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.