How about a survey? Students engage college peers in gospel conversations

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Pictured Above: At FSU, the team sets up a tent in front of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries building to conduct the surveys. It’s a very popular area in front of the student union where other students organizations are set up.

TALLAHASSEE – How can an invitation to take a survey and receive a free book lead to gospel conversations?

That’s what happened earlier this spring when a group of students from the University of Georgia, Florida State University and Florida A&M University gathered in Tallahassee to engage students in gospel conversations at these two local campuses.

The approach is simple. Students invite their college peers to take a brief survey, which leads naturally to a gospel conversation.

A student is shown conducting a survey with students at The Great Exchange booth set up on the FAMU Campus.

Approximately 200 gospel conversations took place among students at the two campuses over the course of about 12 hours in three days. Six students made decisions for Christ.

The surveys are tools from The Great Exchange, a Georgia ministry that uses “spiritual interest” surveys to allow people to open up about their spiritual backgrounds and engage in gospel conversations. This includes questions such as:

  • What do you believe is mankind’s greatest problem?
  • What do you think happens after we die?
  • If God asked you, “Why should I let you into heaven, what would you say?”
  • On a scale of 1-10, how good are you?

Joshua Guest, a junior majoring in accounting at FSU, said this effort gave him an opportunity to interact with people he normally does not cross paths with.

“I was surprised that people would take the survey,” he said. “But people were open to us, and some wanted to talk even more. It was definitely a good experience.”

With this approach to evangelism, students are asking their peers for permission to have conversations with them.

‘We want to make sure we’re listening before we’re talking. Then we ask permission to share what we believe. We find that when we do this, people are very receptive.’

Barry Sproles Director, Florida State University’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries

“We want to make sure we’re listening before we’re talking,” said Barry Sproles, director of FSU’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries, whose students participated. “Then we ask permission to share what we believe. We find that when we do this, people are very receptive.”

According to Rich Day, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church in Tallahassee, students from The Great Exchange head to Florida each spring and unite with local Tallahassee students to engage college students in gospel conversations. They’ve been doing this since 2018 with a short break due to COVID. In addition to BCM students from both FSU and FAMU, students from the apologetics group known as Ratio Christi, which Day directs, also participate.

At FAMU the team sets up in the main quad area. At FSU, the team sets up a tent in front of the BCM building, a very popular area in front of the student union where other student organizations are set up. “Take a survey. Get a book!” is how they advertise to students, with the free book being the Bible.

Students are shown conducting a survey with a student on the FSU Campus.

The team spends about four hours on each of the three days initiating conversations with students. Each evening the group gathers for dinner and Bible study at Lakeview Baptist, which hosts the out-of-towners, before doing a debriefing on the day’s conversations. Students share their experiences  – both good and bad – and talk about questions that perhaps stumped them and ways they can improve. Day also does presentations each night on specific apologetics subjects.

Apologetics teaches students to know why they believe and to defend what they believe. This is especially important on today’s college campuses, Day said.

“There are so many different religious groups on college campuses these days. We want to be able to defend our own faith but also talk about these false religions and pointing out where they are in error,” he said.

After conducting a survey, a student prays with another student on the FAMU campus.

At the end of the survey, students are asked to provide their contact information, which the local BCMs can then use for follow up. Sproles said this year several students committed to the study of John and showed up the following Tuesday night at BCM.

The Great Exchange ministry is valuable as it helps equip and train students for sharing the gospel at any time, Sproles said.

“We want to create a culture of evangelism in our ministry,” he said. “This helps people to do that well.”

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