1. Have a (regular?) faculty/student prayer time.
Find a time and location that would work for both students and professors. If appropriate you might bring coffee and donuts. After introductions, take 10 minutes for professors to pray for the students, 10 minutes for the students to pray for the professors, and 10 minutes to pray together for the campus and the world.
2. Have a Christian professor share his/her faith story at your weekly meeting.
Ideally you would know something about a professor before extending an invitation to give his/her faith story. Ask the professor to take 5 minutes to share how he/she came to Christ, and their journey to this point. Don’t assume that a professor has done this before; it is a big step for many of them.
Even a short presentation at a weekly meeting can be powerful. For years at our first meeting or two we would have a professor come and speak very briefly. The content was something like this: “The university should be a place where the greatest ideas are examined and discussed. I can’t think of any idea greater than i) there is a God, and ii) this God wants to know you personally. So take 4 years to think on that, and this is a great place to do. I’m so glad I had something like this …If you would ever like to discuss Christ, please contact me.” Under 5 minutes.
3. Ask student leaders or students at your weekly meeting to write the names of possible Christian professors on 3×5 cards.
Students often have insight into professors who are interested in spiritual matters, or who are believers.
- Share your vision for reaching the whole campus. What passage of scripture motivates you?
- Share something like, “We want to bring the hope of Jesus Christ to the whole campus – students and faculty. Students have unique in-roads to reaching faculty as do faculty in reaching students. Christian students and faculty need each other if this whole campus is going to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- Then say something like this: “to help us reach out to faculty, please put the following information on the card you’ve been given:
- The names of professors you know whom you think are Christians
- Your name and email in case we need to get in touch with you
- Finally please write a sentence explaining why you think this professor is a follower of Christ. ( An example might be “she introduced herself as a follower of Christ in our first class.” Or “he mentioned he goes to church when I spoke with him one time”.)
- Write “yes” or “no” to answer, “Do we have permission to mention your name when we contact this professor?”
- Collect the cards and begin to visit these professors during the rest of the semester. When you visit, you might mention that (student name) mentioned them to you. You work with Cru at your school, and you are interested in getting to know the faculty better, since they are so influential with students. Some questions you could ask are 1) are they aware of Cru at your school? 2) Where did they do their undergrad and graduate work? 3) (Student name) thought they might have some spiritual interest or background. Would they be willing to share about that with you? 4) A question about how Cru could resource them, or what they think are some of the greatest needs of students and how Cru could connect with that. 5) If they are Christian, you might ask if they’d like to receive the Missional Moment email, which is sent weekly. You can sign them up at http://www.facultycommons.com/fc-missional-moments/
4. Do “thank a prof,” either at your weekly meeting or on campus.
The academy is generally an inhospitable place. Students come to professors to complain, or ask for favors, and then go on websites to rate them. Make a statement by taking time to thank them.
At a weekly meeting provide stationery (perhaps with Faculty Commons logo on it). Ask each student to write a short note to a professor to thank him/her specifically for some aspect of their teaching/life. In the note express appreciation. Then someone can drop by each professor’s office and say “Hey – we wanted to thank professors. Here are a couple of notes students wrote about you regarding why they appreciate you.”
You can also do this by setting up a table in front of the student center, or some public location on campus. Put up a “thank a prof” banner. Get students who are passing by to stop and write a “thank you” note.
5. Honor a professor each semester.
Shawn Cramer, MTL in Denver, shared this idea: “Each quarter, we as the campus ministry vote on our favorite professor. Then I take the student who nominated the prof and take the prof out for lunch. I ask them about their journey as an educator and their spiritual journey. This is only our second one, but professors eat this up (literally and figuratively!). We hand them a basic certificate and students get to participate as well. Really fun stuff.” Here is his email to the professor:
“Dear Dr. ______ I represent one of the largest student organizations on campus called Cru. We help students develop in all areas of life: relationally, spiritually, emotionally, academically and socially. We strongly affirm DU’s mission in engaging with students in advancing scholarly inquiry, cultivating critical and creative thought and generating knowledge.
Each quarter we want to highlight a professor who is helping build into DU’s students with excellence. By popular vote, you were selected this quarter! I would like to invite you to lunch near campus on us with me and the student who nominated you, ______, so that we can appreciate you and present you with the award. Would you be available …? I look forward to personally meeting you,
If you need a conversation starter, try asking about how the professor became interested in their field, and what they are currently researching.
6. Hold a potluck at a professor’s home with staff, key student leaders, and key professors.
7. Invite a faculty member to come with you to do follow-up with an international student.
International students have great respect for professors. A professor’s presence with you on an appointment adds credibility, and potentially increases the impact on the student’s life. The experience helps call the faculty member into the mission right on their campus, and it gives her ideas of how God might use her in the lives of students. On one campus, a professor’s involvement in a meeting with a student from East Asia had a strong impact because the student was totally taken aback that the professor believed in a Creator.
8. Subscribe personally to Faculty Commons Missional Moments and encourage faculty to subscribe as well. Here’s the link: http://www.facultycommons.com/.