Thursday, March 12, 2015

Who is the Audience for Your Collegiate Event?

Since stepping away from the ministry at Arkansas State, I have had the privilege of attending different collegiate events on different campuses. Here are some things I have observed and learned.

-The same type event (large group worship or a Lunch Program, etc) may have very different audiences from one campus to the next.

-Who your intended audience is should determine your message and your style of presentation.

-Some have not decided who their intended audience is.

-The message or type presentation sometimes does not fit the target audience.

I have a friend who has a weekly Lunch Program that is aimed at non-Christian International students. His core students bring and welcome International students and the Gospel is always presented in some way by one of their staff. They have many International students who make professions of faith in their ministry.

The campus where I served for many years was on the buckle of the Bible Belt. There were hundreds or even thousands of students there who indicated they had made a commitment to Christ, but had little or no spiritual connection while in college. Some had had negative experiences with churches and had walked away from church. Others had simply not made it part of their college plan. Our Lunch program was aimed primarily at Believers who were not making a walk with Christ a priority at college. We worked at having engaging speakers. We urged them to talk about practical Christian to do it on a daily basis.

A part of having a target group is making sure that is whom you are speaking to. Or, it is making sure that guest speakers understand....and are willing or able to connect with that group. We once had invited a pastor from out of town to speak at our Lunch event. At the last minute, he had a family emergency and sent one of his staffers to sub for him. I shared with him who his audience would primarily be and that if he preached at them, they would simply put their heads down and not listen. But, if he spoke to them warmly and practically, they would hear every word. His opening statement after being introduced was, "I'm a preacher, not a speaker...if you wanted a speaker, you should have gone to Radio Shack". He then proceeded to preach and everyone put their head down and didn't hear anything after that. That experience reminded me of the overwhelming necessity of speakers who understood our audience. Also, the few times after that, if a scheduled speaker had a conflict at the last minute and offered a sub, I declined and did it myself.

Some Ministries offer a large group worship event that is is aimed at the very committed. Others have a weekly large group event aimed at non-Believes and there are lots of fun ice breakers with a testimony and a Gospel presentation. Their deeper teaching is then done in their small groups.

Another option is to designate one night a month of your large group event as "Gospel Night" and make sure your core students know that night is aimed at non-Beleivers and encourage them to invite and bring friends who might not know the Lord.

The bottom line is your events have a specific targe audience? If so, are you speaking to that target audience in a way they will hear at that event?

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