For many years our Back-2-School Retreat fell about the third weekend of school. I called it the end of the beginning. The first three weeks are so crucial in making contacts, holding new student events, and just all the craziness that goes with starting up. During those first three weeks there is no regular schedule; you simply are plunging on to "what's next". It's about maximizing every moment and just getting done what has to be done and trying to remember the name of a student you see coming down the walk that you met two weeks ago.
So, if the beginning has ended, what now? The answer is to set an intentional schedule. Since the first few weeks call for a flexibility that has no set schedule, it is easy to continue to operate that way. It is easy....but, wrong!
Here are some things I would suggest need to be scheduled.
-Prep Time: If you speak for your weekly event or speak in churches on the weekend, you must have a set time for your preparation. There was a time I found myself preparing on Sunday afternoons to speak on campus on Monday night. That wasn't fair to my family and it certainly is not what Sabbath is to be about. Or, I can remember inviting students to come to an event where I was speaking.....but didn't have a clue what I was going to say.
-Leader Meeting Time: One of the most crucial things we do is meet with our student leaders on a regular basis. This is for their development and for the benefit of the ministry. In my opinion, this is a must. These meetings need to be in your weekly schedule. I also suggest that they be scheduled in such a way that they do not keep you from being other places you need to be.
-Eating Where students eat: At least once a week schedule a time where you eat where students eat in a cafeteria, food court, etc. I find this to be a huge outreach time as students you already know introduce you to other students.
-Walking across campus: One of my personal rules is "Walk through the Student Center EVERY day.". But, there are times that traffic on campus is at a peak. It is a good time to be out there. I've stood at a campus crosswalk lots of times visiting with students who came by.
-Free night at home: It is easy to have something every night and never be at home for dinner or a family night. We ate dinner lots of night at weird times so I could go back to campus and yet all eat together. But, later on Tuesday nights became "no campus night". You and your family need that.
-Paper Work Time: When do you respond to letters, do reports, etc? Find a time in the week when things are quiet that is set for paper work or administrative tasks. Some never get to them and some let these keep them from students. Have a set time and do them then. Don't worry about it other times. Talk to students then.
-Follow-up Time: This is the time that you follow up on students who came to your large group event or in some way filled out an Info Card. For me, Wednesday afternoon was follow-up to our Wednesday Lunch Program and Friday morning was follow-up to Thursday night worship. Whether you do follow-ups personally or assign them, make sure it is done in a timely manner. Some experience says that the sooner a follow-up is done, the more meaningful or effective it is.
What is your most important task? Do you have it scheduled? What is your most satisfying task? Is it scheduled?