Start a Chapter!
Are you studying at a university or college that has no ACF chapter? Or maybe you're at a school where the ACF needs to be revitalized. If this is your situation, then here are 7 simple steps to start or restart your chapter:
Success in ministry on behalf of Christ is hopeless without prayer. We must be connected to the God who is already at work on campus so we can follow His lead and join Him in bringing grace to students and the university community. This is not about quick prayers to start and finish meetings or events. Campus ministry must be bathed in prayer. It must be God-directed. Let Him speak the need for ministry to students while we listen. God will do the talking if our ears are open to hear and to discern His plans and how we can participate. One practical way of applying this principle is “prayer walking” the campus. It is a good thing to do every year, but especially if you are launching a campus ministry program. Invite your leadership team, your pastor, a couple of students or some leaders from another Christian ministry on campus. Walk around from building to building and pray for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on campus and in your ministry. Notice how He is already at work. Look for needs your ministry can meet. Sense His presence and His desire to reveal how He has already acted to save.
2. Ask for Help
No one can do everything on their own! Reach out and if there are students, alumni, church leadership or even members of the ACF executive team who are willing to help you start your ministry. There's a lot you'll have to figure out like who will be willing to serve on an executive team, where will funding come from and what kind of group do we want to create? There'll be a lot of questions, many answers and then probably more questions. Thankfully, you don't have to figure it our by yourself. Here's a list of things you may want to do or sort out. Remember... you won't be doing by yourself:
Discover the school’s policy regarding religious groups and clubs
Find a faculty advisor or mentor to act as your club sponsor
Develop vision, mission & purpose statements
Create a club constitution (there's an example in our Resources)
Form an executive team to lead the ministry
Make a prayerful request that the local church adopt your ministry
Develop a calendar of ministry followed by a budget
Attend any trainings that are being held by the Ontario Conference, NAD or General Conference
Come up with a club name, brand and identity; make sure you have some social media
3. Find Others
Adventist groups will naturally want seek out the Adventist students first. If there are only one or two Adventist students, they can invite some friends, and then establish a club/group based on common interests. This ministry is about students, and ultimately the students need to be the leaders. It is often a student with a passion to reach the campus for Christ or who initiates the process of starting a ministry. Sometimes it is someone else with a burden for the spiritual well being of students. Whatever the particular situation, the following list should help get the process started in the quest to find students.
Campus Options - Some schools have a religious preference list that you can ask to look. It's also a great idea to set up a table during welcome week and clubs fair so that Adventist students can find your club and get connected.
Local Church - Connect with the Pastor and students at local church(es). See if you can talk about the ministry with the congregation during the worship experience. Many families will call the local church to help connect incoming students. Make certain the church office is prepared for these calls. We also suggest providing the church membership with pamphlets or business cards so the can connect with your ministry.
When you get the names and contact information of new Adventist students on your campus, send them a letter of congratulations at the beginning of each year or semester, inviting them to join your campus group. Provide a list of activities and services the group and the local church can provide for them. Often a student will decide to attend a particular university because they know they will have the spiritual support and social network of a local Adventist-based campus ministry.
Most ACF chapters have discovered that there are students on campus from many different faith backgrounds who are seeking community and are excited to connect with any group willing to accept them. Most often these students come because they are roommates, classmates or friends of Adventist students. Some might see an advertisement for an activity that interests them on a bulletin board on campus. You just need to be proactive and aware of all opportunities and design attractive activities.
4. Study Your Campus
Before starting a campus ministry, it is important to learn as much as possible about the campus. You should become familiar with the buildings and the student hangouts on and off campus. Here is a list of what to look for in order to discover what the campus feels like to students.
Examine the school’s website carefully
What are this school’s priorities?
Which departments are the strongest?
Walk around or ask a student to take you around and tell you about their school
How old is the campus?
Notice the location of the campus and its buildings
Learn about the student population and immediate community
Sense the mood of the campus
Learn about the other ministries already at work
5. Get Together
When you find others who are interested in forming a club or even being part of leadership, start hanging out and develop relationships. Getting started is at times the most difficult step. It may seem like there is so much to do. The best advice is, just do it. Do what it takes to get started and move ahead, constantly keeping hearts and minds open to the leading of the Spirit. God did not give Abraham a to-do list before setting out on his journey. He just told him to gather his family and go. If God is calling you to lead a campus ministry, then do it. If you feel impressed to start an ACF chapter where nothing at all exists yet, just do it, and pray for God’s guidance and resources with each new step you take. Your first meeting may not happen on campus, but maybe it will happen at someone's house, or in the church basement or even as a social trip! Your group will organically develop a rhythm and culture of its own.
6. Make It Official
This momentous occasion, while sometime tedious, is an amazing and exciting part! Become an officially recognized student organization on campus by registering the club with the Student Union. This step will give the club access to school resources like meeting rooms, web space, and more! Also connect with student union about the needs of campus and if possible, the religious life office.
Your next step will be to legitimize your ministry by getting it recognized and sanctioned as an official ACF chapter of your university or College. This can be done by connecting with the ACF executive team. You’ll then be added to this Ontario Conference ACF network.
It's almost over, but you should register your chapter within the North American Division by going to acflink.org to get your group listed within the network. The last step is to register your chapter with the Public Campus Ministries office of the General Conference by going to https://pcm.adventist.org/ .
7. Go with God!
Enjoy the journey! Growth takes time. Don’t focus on the numbers—rest in the knowledge that you’re following God’s will and allow God to determine success. God is always in control. You have friends and fellow chapters across the world praying for you and your ACF chapter's success.
Current Clubs in Ontario
ACF in Ontario is a dynamic ministry made up of 15 different chapters and 80 different ministry leaders. All are working together to reach their campus for Christ. Discover today where your club might be hosted. If you don't see your school listed below, then maybe this is God calling you to start a ministry on your campus!