Albanian staff member Nikolin Dodaj offered a series of workshops on a study skill: how to find the main idea in a text.
He chose Josh McDowell’s book, More Than a Carpenter for the workshops, attracting students who were spiritually curious. And he made it a contest in which students competed for a prize of a mini-laptop.
The final result: Among 140 students who participated, the Christians developed confidence discussing Jesus with their friends, and 34 students indicated decisions to become Christians.
Here’s how they did the outreach and how you might adapt it for your use:
Step 1: Plan
- Quiz: Nikolin and several others wrote a 50-question quiz from Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter. The book presents historical evidence supporting the claims of Christ.
- Structure: They planned to divide the students into smaller study groups. Each group would have leaders previously trained on finding the main idea of each chapter. They also scheduled 3 weekly study group gatherings as well as the final quiz date.
- Marketing: They estimated how many copies of the book they needed to purchase to distribute for marketing, knowing only a few of the students who received the books would come.
- Prize: The team decided a good prize for the contest winner (the highest-scoring student) would be a netbook (a mini-laptop), and they used money from their budget to purchase one.
Meet with friends from your church, neighborhood or ministry.
- Who will teach the group leaders how to find the main idea?
- Who will be the small group leaders? The number needed may depend on the number of participants you expect.
- How many and whom will you invite?
- How many copies of the book do you need for participants and to hand out with invitations?
- What will you choose as a prize? What does your budget allow? Will you choose to have multiple prizes rather than just one?
- When will you schedule your study group meetings and the quiz?
Step 2: Train
Nikolin trained a few of the Cru students in how to find the main idea. As they read through More Than a Carpenter together, he helped them find the main idea in each chapter.
They also made invitations to give to students along with the books they distributed.
- Choose a time to train the small group leaders.
- Meet for this initial training for group leaders.
- Print invitations to the “Finding the Main Idea” workshop.
- Pray for the people who will participate.
Step 3: Invite
The students involved in Cru in Tirana invited their friends and classmates to join in the contest. They also handed out around campus about 2,500 copies of More Than a Carpenter together with invitations to the contest.
- Distribute copies of the book along with the invitations.
- Consider using social media, like Facebook, to invite people as well as handing out flyers.
Step 4: Meet
At the first meeting for the “Finding the Main Idea” workshop, the students split into smaller groups of 10 to 12, each with a trained student leader for finding the main idea and leading discussion of the book.
They met weekly, 3 times before the quiz competition.
During the 3 weeks, the group leaders coached the members in finding the main idea in the text. They discussed the book’s content, evidence for the Christian faith.
As the groups worked together over the weeks, the element of competition motivated them all to learn the content of the book as well as they could. Each group wanted their group to be the “winning group.”
This team competition also developed friendships within and among the groups. Mirgeta Sula, a 3rd-year dentistry student, was in a group of 13. She says that through the competition, she became good friends with the people in her group.
- In small groups, have leaders lead the discussion, helping the other people in each group recognize the facts presented and coach them in finding the main idea.
- Continue to pray that God would open their “spiritual eyes” to Himself.
- Remind people about the time and day of the quiz competition.
Step 5: Compete
The last week, all 140 students came to take the quiz over the book to see how well they learned the skill, the material, and to win a prize. The students took the quiz, and then the staff team scored the quizzes to determine a winner.
- Be sure to maintain a fun, competitive atmosphere.
- Have plenty of copies of the quiz and distribute them.
- Tell the people when the winner will be announced.
Step 6: Win
Although only 1 person -- a new believer! -- won the mini-laptop, everyone won new friendships and improved their study skills. And most of all, 34 students -- half of the nonbelievers participating -- received eternal life by trusting Christ after studying the evidence of who He is.
God used their creative approach and careful planning.
Nikolin explains, “We didn’t challenge them ‘Do you believe?’ right away, but ‘Do you understand?’ Only later did we ask them if they believed and understood.”
- Ask the people in your group how they will respond to the things they’ve learned about God. Now that they understand, will they believe?
Step 7: Grow
Since then, the 34 new believers are growing in their relationships with God through continuing to meet with the campus ministry and through spiritual mentoring.