Ministering to college students includes a unique factor of epic inconsistency in numbers. Particularly for those of us in small-town ministries, most pastors and Bible study leaders have experienced the night when only 1 person shows up. Our experience typically follows a strict schedule of worry, insecurity, then eventual trust in God.
Within the first 1/2 hour ministry is supposed to begin, I will have gone through the following thinking process:
- Is this the right evening?
- Was there a major car accident blocking the road?
- Did everyone collaborate to go bowling and forgot to inform the one person who came to Bible study?
- Is my teaching/leading really that bad?
- I wonder if I should text all of them.
- I worked so hard on this lesson, should I save it for a larger group next week, or share it with just one person?
After making it through issues of personal insecurity presumed to be dealt with in my high-school years, I realize I need to cut the mental break-down and the small talk. This one person showed up to meet with God; it is my job to actually engage him/her* in some meaningful conversation.
So I move forward with the lesson. God planned it for this night for a reason, even if only for one person. We go deeper personally into the word, talking together about how it impacts each of us. There is more feedback and intimacy–not what I was expecting for the material. Eventually, we get to the topic of salvation. Turns out, this one person has never heard the gospel explained. Thinking themselves as a Christian by default, (s)he kept coming to Bible study.
I share my testimony, read truth from John and Romans, and wait for a response. The individual says thank you for sharing and promised to think hard about it. While (s)he hasn’t accepted Christ yet, (s)he keeps coming to Bible study (and, for the record, so does the rest of the group).
Regardless, this moment reminded me of my insecurity. With all my planning and organization, I am insufficient; I recall my great need to rely on the Holy Spirit. I rearrange the importance of salvation conversations in my mind. He gives me courage to hope for a 1-person Bible study more often.
From now on in my study preparations, I pray to be faithful and reliant on Him for whatever opportunity He brings.
*name and gender withheld for confidential reasons