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IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO
You are part of a small group of five students (or volunteers) who are starting a ministry on your campus. It is now the beginning of the second month of the semester. Earlier in the year you had decided to use focus groups as part of your strategy, and now you are seeing the fruit:
In only four weeks your group has established an open, meaningful dialogue about spiritual things with 25-75 non-Christian students on your campus;
You have found nine more Christian students who want to get involved with your ministry on campus;
The Student Government has actually shown an interest in giving you money for future focus groups;
Each of the non-Christians now see the group facilitators as people who are easy to talk to, and who know what they believe but are great listeners. Most are willing to get together with you to discuss spiritual issues, because they realize they have questions and that you might actually have some answers. Some of them have even initiated getting together.
Sound good? In reality, it is not too far-fetched.
If you really do have a small group of five, as mentioned above, and if each of the five of you were to commit to leading one or two one-hour focus groups on your campus during the first four weeks of school, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see the above scenario become a reality.
THE BIG PICTURE
Focus Groups have been around in the business world for years. They are typically comprised of anywhere from 5-15 people—people who are NOT involved with the company or organization— who attend specifically to provide feedback and opinions to help the company or organization learn and grow.
The general idea is that during the focus group, your role as the leader is to facilitate the discussion by asking carefully crafted questions and then allowing the participants to respond. Your goal is to build a safe environment in which the participants will feel the freedom to say whatever they are thinking. Your job is not to offer any answers, or even agree with any of their answers (in fact, you should promise to not say anything about what you believe), but rather to get them talking and—more importantly—thinking.
As a ministry strategy, the focus group gives students an opportunity to voice their opinions, feelings and thoughts about a wide range of topics in an environment that is nonthreatening and (usually) very interesting for the participants. These groups will give you clearer insight into the minds of non-Christian students.
From our perspective, as a Christian ministry seeking to influence the campus with the gospel, these groups often draw students who otherwise might not get anywhere near a Cru event. Focus groups get them thinking—and talking—about spiritual things, usually leaving them hungry for more discussion and interaction.
For more details on focus groups, download the PDF above.
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