Part III: Practical Implementation
By Eric Fehr, Katie Caltagarone
Where We Were
This model cannot be sustained unless commuters find their community niche. Many simply do not have a vision. The current college-age (18-24) generation yearns to feel they belong and have a mission. These students want to be engaged beyond classwork and Sunday-morning services by being involved in something they feel matters. Our goal within the commuter niche is to identify leaders, develop them into disciples who make disciples, and then release them to train and equip other students to do the same. This is by no means easy.
Since August 2014, we have been able to disciple approximately 40 students using this model. Each of these leaders has discipled 5 students on average. This multiplying effect allows us to observe our model’s impact beyond the students we work with.
By focusing on training leaders who reach out to train new leaders and see themselves as hosts wherever they are, our recorded student engagement through events and programs has steadily increased over the past three semesters. More commuters know who we are when they see us on campus, they know how to get involved or find answers to questions, and they are bringing their friends to events and programming. We know, however, that this model can do so much more than simply spiritually discipling students. What about the students who have just arrived and don’t know where they are going?
Where We Are Going
Over the course of this next academic year, we are embarking on a journey and launching a new ship. Commuter Ambassadors (CA’s) will seek to directly impact the lives of freshman and transfer students. It can be difficult to find community and a place of belonging at our large university. CA’s will meet and connect with these new students at a Welcome Week event to provide direction as way pointers, programming as a leaders, and friendship as peers. Through this system, CA’s will identify new students with strong leadership abilities and begin training them to become the next cohort of leaders, all the while encouraging them to get involved in various different opportunities across campus.
Commuter Tribes --> Commuter Ambassadors --> New Freshman and Transfer Commuters
Some Easy Steps to Implement on Your Campus
Step 1 – Pray. We can do nothing good and powerful outside of God’s will and desire in our lives. That includes how we choose to connect to and serve our students.
Step 2 - Identify a core group of students. Which students attend almost all the events and programs you already host? Meet with them and seek to discern interest in peer leadership.
Step 3 - Create a peer leader application. Send to off-campus students, peers, and faculty and ask them to encourage students to consider stepping up. This can help increase the size of your core group.
Step 4 – Begin mentoring these students. Focus on leadership development, active followership, and other useful topics that can help them create smaller influence groups in the off-campus student body.
Step 5 – One last step, and one of the most important, is to encourage your core group to attend all the most important events and programs you host, and to bring at least one other peer who lives off campus.
Remember, Jesus didn’t focus the majority of his time on large crowds. Jesus focused his time on developing a group of 12 disciple-makers. It’s an example we’re striving to follow in our context.
Eric Fehr serves as Associate Director of Student Life at Liberty University. He holds a Master of Science in Education: Student Affairs Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and is pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion: Discipleship and Church Ministry from Liberty University. Follow him on Twitter @FehrEric.
Katie Caltagarone serves as Assistant Director – Commuter Student Life in the Office of Student Life at Liberty University. She holds a Master of Arts in Music and Worship from Liberty University, and is pursuing a Doctorate of Worship Studies from Liberty University. Follow her on Twitter @KatieCalt