Come September, many new students will flood your campus, many of whom have never met – some never ever heard! – of Jesus. One thing your CU can do to make the most of this opportunity is to engage in what we call ‘first contact’ evangelism. First contact is about meeting others where they are at and starting a conversation.
Generally, there are two styles of first contact:
There are so many creative ways of engaging with people for the first time – you may have thought of your own! – here are a few ideas for first contact on your campus this coming term.
Being a new student is always disorienting. Good first contact will open the arms of your CU so you can offer connection and friendship to all. John reminds us that we love because God first loved us, so it’s worth thinking about how to express that love at your university.
Students passing by will need to see something worth stopping for, and they’ll need to see it’s open and inviting. Bear in mind some people will feel a Christian Union stand is only for Christians. It’s not! Aim for first contact which is visibly intriguing and relationally safe!
Going to university raises massive questions about life and our place in it for all students. First contact can connect with the real issues facing students in their lives today, issues like:
It’s important to address these questions at the right level – it’s unlikely someone will open up with their deepest fears the first time you meet, but they may be willing to share something of their story during a conversation.
So, what would relational, visible and engaging first contact look like come Autumn? Here’s some ideas to get you thinking!
Interactive conversation starters:
Finish the sentence: write the start of a sentence in the middle, such as ‘By next year, I hope to…’ then get students to complete the sentence.
Solarium: Solarium provides 50 original photographic images and 5 simple questions – allowing you to answer with pictures as well as just words.
Provide a simple game: sometimes people just want an excuse to spend a bit of time with a welcoming group. Providing a simple game can provide you something to do while you chat.
Flyers: handing out a flyer that clearly articulates your next meeting can help someone follow up on your conversation. You can either hand these out around campus if you university will let you, or give them away with each interaction.
And remember – try and invite everyone you talk with to take the next step. This might be passing on a flyer with details about the CU, an invitation to a CU event, an invitation to a lunch bar that is just about to start and so on.
We do not know what the restrictions will be on campus this year. You may need to adapt your first contact activity to specific restrictions still in force, such as mask wearing or social distancing. Remember to make it as easy as possible for students to see what you are doing and approach you.
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