Launching a Movement
Spiritual movements come in all shapes and sizes, but they do have some things in common. Usually they follow a certain series of steps as they are beginning. These suggestions will help you as you attempt to provide leadership in launching a movement:
1. Cast vision with your potential leaders or newly appointed leaders, making sure that they are firmly committed to a multiplying ministry among international students.
2. Decode the campus as part of your effort to locate potential leaders. This will entail a process of determining how students at your campus “cluster” together in social groups. Who are the influencers and how can you best minister to them? Make this a continual project and involve your students in it so they will “own” the process and will contribute their ideas. LINK
One Special Note: Give careful thought and prayer to the nationality or nationalities that you are seeking to reach. They vary greatly in their demographics and their spiritual responses. Most Japanese in America are undergraduate students while most other internationals are graduate students. Chinese are relatively open to the gospel but may have more opportunities to consider Jesus—through Chinese churches and Bible studies—than other internationals. Also note that at large universities, each nationality may have the population to merit a special ministry focus; at smaller colleges it may be necessary to work with all international students in order to create a sense of movement.
3. Develop a strategic plan with your leaders, probably for one school year. You will want to choose an approach that seems right for your situation. Your choice of a broad sowing approach or a networking approach will affect many other decisions and plans.
4. Meet internationals through easy points of entry that you discovered in the decoding process. For example, attend a university-sponsored event for international students or hang out in an area of the student union that attracts a certain nationality of students.
5. Continue recruiting others to be involved. Your leaders can cast vision with others (at campus ministries, at churches, etc.) to get them involved in this new movement. Seek to have this vision-casting strongly endorsed by the leadership of the host group so it is “legitimized.”
6. Provide friendship-making activities for internationals. These events for internationals should meet specific felt needs (physical or social). Consider airport pick-up for new international students or programs to provide them with short-term housing or orientation to the campus/community. Also consider activities that will meet their need for relating to American culture—day trips, English tutoring or practice, dinners in friendly American homes.
7. Plan broad sowing events. Such events will be a mainstay of your work if you select a ministry style of broad sowing. You will want to incorporate periodic events of this type. Your leaders and their co-workers can conduct appropriate surveys of internationals, hold large parties in celebration of major holidays, and host special meetings and events that hold special interest for your international students.
8. Do individual or small group outreach. Depending on the nationalities involved and the response of individuals, your people may want to put a greater emphasis on either one-to-one conversations about Jesus or evangelistic Bible study groups.