Lessons From Leading A Student Fellowship

lesson from student fellowship
During my undergraduate, I served as president of a campus fellowship in school. As things would turn out during my time in leadership, it had the largest number of attendees. In simple church growth lingo, we had the largest fellowship on campus.
 
But you know the funny thing, I don’t know how many people attended our fellowship meetings. Don’t be too awed, we were not so big that we couldn’t count. Rather, I told the ushers not to bother counting how many people showed up during services.
 
The only reason we were seen as the largest fellowship was that we filled the whole chapel auditorium. Other fellowships filled sections of the chapel – we took the whole place.

 
But, why did I not want to take statistics of people coming to fellowship? Wouldn’t that information guide the planning of our programs and delivery of our content?
 
They would have – if our program design was numbers driven. Our indices for success were rather different.
 

Why Were they coming for services?

 
You see people came to our services for different reasons. I can’t say I figured out all but some of them include:
 
  • We kept to service time – started and ended on time
  • We had good music
  •  We focused on spiritual and academic excellence
  •  The timing of the service worked very well into their schedules
  •  The sermons focused on core Christian teaching
  •  Their friends were going so why not
  •  We did not have a sermonette to convince people to give an offering every time
 
It’s clear from all these reasons that we had a mixed multitude – God seekers and self-satisfiers.
lesson from student fellowship

Why We didn’t take numbers

 
And this is why I didn’t believe that a large number of people showing up at our fellowship meant we were doing a great job. People come to services for their own reasons and if you align with them, they will show up more and more.
 

So, Were We Playing Church?

 
We had our own internal matrices – numbers didn’t just feature on them. Our matrices were driven by one singular vision – to get more people to reflect Jesus in their everyday lives.
 
We came up with a simple mantra to keep this fresh. It was LEAVE THE WORLD AND LIVE THE WORD. Sounds cool, right? Making it real is the hard work.
 
But for us, the more people we could get to dig into this, the better for us.
 

How Did We Measure What We Were Doing?

 
We were measuring numbers but not numbers in the way everyone else was measuring it. Yes, we tried to make our services a spiritual experience but a lot of effort was going into these:
 
  • The investment we were making into our volunteer workers. They represent the next line of people that should carry the vision of the fellowship. If they are valuable, they should demand the investment of time and resources from us as leaders.
 
  • The opportunities we created for people within our sphere of influence who needed to hear about Jesus. Sometimes they were not through traditional church programs. For example, we had a dinner for our lecturers to create a platform to reach them. It was a paid event for students but free for lecturers.

 

God is in the people transformation business – starting from salvation to glorification. That’s what we partner with God for.

Why All These?

 
It’s so easy to get distracted with how everyone else measures success. Numbers was important to some people but these two core activities took more of our time and energy. This was how we believed God was measuring our success as leaders.
 
Occasionally, we had to make hard decisions. I recall when we had to announce to the fellowship the suspension of a worker who was caught in exam malpractice. We weighed the decision because it was very unusual within a student fellowship to practice church disciple.
 
This was made easier because of the value that we placed on our workers. They were not nobodies – they represent the fellowship. By the way, we didn’t announce his suspension and hang him out to dry. His team lead walked with him. 

What Really Matters

 
The most important thing is to never let any outward metric of success determine our worth or value in the service of God.
Find out the important things to God and serve by those standards. God is in the people transformation business – starting from salvation to glorification. That’s what we partner with God for.
 
We serve people because we want them to live lives that reflect more of the Christ in them.
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Tola Akinsulire
 

A married guy with a precocious son who works his (I mean me, not my son - I bet you know, right?) day job as a financial guy trying to make real estate projects have some sense to the investor. I like to talk about what I learn along the way as I live my faith in life (family, work, friendships, fellowship, community and anything else you can put here).

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