1. Don’t put people off unnecessarily! If someone asks what time your meeting is on – you’re on all the time – you’re a community [NOT a meeting] with various expressions of that, and there’ll always be something they can make or create! When someone asks who it’s for – it’s for everyone – follower of Jesus, sceptic and people interested in seeing what the craic with Jesus is all about.
2. Have something that makes your stand “stand” out (get it?!) and be noticed in a crowded hall. If something is impossible on a tiny stand, why not have an incredible competition or something outside the hall as you come into it! I’ve seen riddles to win 50 euro, competitions to win vouchers for the local Christian coffee shop (if it’s good), giant murder mystery scenes laid in the corridor between stands, people dressed up, interactive activities and things like this Uncover. Dare I suggest, you might even consider abandoning the boring table approach, for a clipboard and space to move around in!
3. Mingle with the other stalls – what an easy way to start collaborations in future! “Collabs” are brilliant especially for small societies who might struggle to publicise an event, but can do things jointly. Sitting here in CIT, the International Society were thrilled that we offered a weekly café space and homestay program – they want to partner more. The African Society also have a lot of Christians and were keen to do something together. The Photography Soc. always love to be asked to take pictures at events. The LGBT soc. hosted a vigil after a member committed suicide last year, and the CIT CU president bravely went along and offered to pray at the end for everyone (they loved the compassion shown). The Mental Health Soc. In one college were open to a talk on Christianity and Mental Health together, with a CU speaker. And inter–faith dialogue done well, between the Islamic Society and the CU or other faith groups, has provided marvellous opportunities in CIT.
4. Have a really good flyer or something that tells people of early ways to connect via facebook, weekly email or text. Non–Christian students shouldn’t necessarily be made to pay to find out more about Jesus (by having to sign–up on some campuses), so don’t think your presence at Socs Day is always primarily to sign people up. We’re there to treat people as humans and help them take the first step towards the most human person of all!
5. Smile, enjoy the banter round the stall and welcome people – many won’t sign up but will still judge you on your welcome and friendliness. One student in CIT a few years ago noticed the smiles, craic and honest, messy life round the free tea and coffee stall, and for 2 months walked past watching each week. The next few weeks he kept taking a coffee and running, the next few he stayed to chat, and then he wanted to study “Uncover” with someone. Don’t underestimate a genuine smile!
6. Have some (good quality) free literature and resources that people can take, even if they don’t want to sign up. To be human is to have questions. And often Socs day stalls show that you understand the mindset of those passing by, in having things that speak into those questions. Best of all (but not always possible), have it far enough away from your table that people don’t feel “watched” while they peruse but perhaps have it close enough still that you can have a conversation too.
7. Free stuff! Because everyone loves that. It’s not luring people in under false pretences. It’s simply being human.