We’re trying new things to reach college students with the gospel. Part of being a missionary is to become a student of the culture of those we’re trying to reach. For me, that means not being #SocialMediaStupid anymore.
I used to think, “College students in Boston think and act like me.” After all, I was a college student in Boston not that long ago. But my freshman year was 21 years ago, and so it’s increasingly clear that there’s a new generation of students on campus.
Let me give you an example:
As the guys stood around eating their big roast beef sandwiches last week, Joel was on his phone snapping the scene.
“Are you snapping our meal?”
“OK. Here’s my snap code so you can add me as a friend,” I said.
He looked at my profile for a moment. “51?”
“What’s 51?” I asked.
“That’s the total number of messages you’ve ever sent or received.”
“How many do you have?”
Clearly, I’ve got some catching up to do!
I’m working to not be #SocialMediaStupid anymore.
Paul talks about becoming all things to all people: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Cor 9:22-23). I think the 2018 version of that for me is that I need to become a digital native to win more college men to the cause of Christ.
Part of my job now includes coaching team leaders across the country and one of the delights is finding leaders who are innovative and creative and then replicating what they’re doing in Boston with students here. No sense reinventing the wheel. My friend Josh and his team in San Diego built a social media campaign to give students a good start to their year.
I took the best of what Josh was doing and invented #GoodStartBoston.
In addition to tagging posts online with #GoodstartBoston, we set up tables to give out Iced Coffee and Lemonade in front of freshmen dorms. You could also buy instagram followers if needed for an initial boost.
What we said to students: “Here at Cru, we’re all about giving students in Boston a Good Start to their year. That includes recommendations of restaurants near campus [thanks to all of you who made suggestions on facebook, by the way]. It includes giving out free iced coffee and lemonade on campus on hot afternoons. And it also includes the ultimate good start – connecting with a group of followers of Jesus who can help new students on their spiritual journeys.
“In addition to giving you a good start to your school year, we’d like to help give a good start to someone else. So if you fill out our quiz, at the end you’ll get a choice of charities to give a dollar to.”
The response (even from non-Christians) has been rewarding. “I’m so glad you guys are giving to charity instead of giving me some junk that I would throw away anyway. That’s so great.”
You can see what we’ve been working on by following me or Malisa on Instagram @BrianEllis or @MalisaEllis. You can search for #GoodStartBoston and you can go to www.cruboston.com/goodstart to see our “Buzzfeed Quiz.” (though the dollar for charity is only for current students).
Anyway… that’s what I’ve been doing to try to go where the students are, learn a new culture, and try to find ways to give students the Ultimate Good Start (a relationship with Jesus Christ).
Next week, we’ll be pouring hot apple cider and passing out cider donuts to start up some more #GoodStartBoston conversations. We’ll also be inviting students to pile into a bus on Columbus day to go apple picking, eat chili, and make pies.
Want to come with us? If you live in the Boston area, we’d love to have you and your families join us on October 8 for apple picking or for chili and baking. Let me know if you’re interested.
What about you? What have you done to learn a new culture? Got any tips for me to be more effective in the social media space?
Loving our adventurous Lord,
How to Pray
- For Joel, Andrew, Andrew, Pieter, Max and all the freshmen guys that we have been connecting with the last few weeks – that they would stick with us
- For our Fall Retreat this weekend – Over 200 Students from across Boston, many not-yet Christians. That they would have an incredible weekend
- For our Apple Picking trip on Columbus Day – that many non-Christians would have great gospel conversations with our staff and students.