Should I plant a new Chi Alpha Chapter?

I’m so excited you’re interested in bringing the Gospel to a college campus. There are many factors involved in the process this page will introduce you to a few key factors to consider in the process of pursuing the idea of pioneering a Chi Alpha chapter. The first question one must consider is whether the campus should be reached with a full-time Chi Alpha missionary team or through the efforts of a volunteer or be a church sponsored ministry. Hopefully by reading through the following questions one will determine if they 1) should apply to become a Chi Alpha missionary, 2) establish a Chi Alpha chapter as a volunteer or church staff or 3) focus on starting a collegiate ministry rather than a Chi Alpha Chapter.

First, who will pioneer?

The first questions to be asked in a start-up situation is who will lead the effort? Establishing a Chi Alpha chapter is a long process that will take a minimum of three years! In addition to the time, does this leader have the skills in creating ministry from scratch?

The beauty of the Kingdom of God, is those who are highly effective in pioneering ministry do not fit into a single mold. It is not a question of personality, education or style of leadership. Pioneering is not a question of using our gifts, it is the discipline to do the hard work of reaching the lost, building community and developing student leaders who will disciple others. We use the following tools to help those desire to pioneer see if they are ready to start the process. Note these assessments are not pass/fail, they are a snapshot of one’s current strengths and weaknesses and since these reflect skills, not gifts, one can work to develop the needed skills that may not be currently present.

We have a couple tools to help one determine if they are ready to lead the effort of planting a new Chi Alpha Chapter.

Lifeway Church Planter Assessment

This powerful self-assessment survey will give insight to developed skills and practices identified for those starting a ministry from scratch. Through our years of research, we have concluded the skills and habits of effective church planters parallel those needed to start a collegiate ministry. Since they are so similar we’ve adopted church planting assessment tools instead of invested resources into creating our own. (This self-assessment is perfect to begin the process but is not the accepted assessment if one desires to be a full-time Chi Alpha missionary in a pioneering opportunity…see Ridley Behavioral Assessment below. Use Lifeway Assessment if you are a current CMIT considering pioneering, an associate staff , church staff member or volunteer.)  Cost $29.00

Steps to order Lifeway Assessment (CPCA):

    1. You are taking the CPCA with an organization, Assemblies of God & Chi Alpha.
    2. After you purchase your “passcode” you will need to register, log in and take survey.
    3. Results will be emailed to you and the Chi Alpha Pioneering Team.

Purchase Survey

Ridley Behavioral Assessment (PAS)

Dr. Charles Ridley researched commonalities of highly effective church planters who were able to plant a church and within 5 years raise up leaders to plant a second community of faith. His research revealed 13 behaviors that were common among these dynamic leaders. The Ridley Behavioral Assessment is not an only tool but a comprehensive interview with the leader and their spouse. Chi Alpha has many highly trained assessors able to conduct the interview and compile the results for evaluation. (This assessment is required of anyone desiring to be lead pioneer as a full-time Chi Alpha Missionary.) Cost: $295 for Chi Alpha personnel or $500 for non-Chi Alpha personnel. See below to arrange an interview.

Secondly, what type of campus is it?

The strategy used to pioneer a campus will vary based on several factors. The following questions will help define the first steps.

Most important question, “Is the college Private or Public?”

Public colleges and universities, by law, must allow students to organize and therefore will allow a Chi Alpha Chapter to charter. General rules to consider when charting a club for the first time: 1) Clubs need a minimum number of students to form a club.  2) A faculty advisor will need to sign off on the club, prayerful find a supportive faculty member. 3) Your club and leader must charter and affiliate with Chi Alpha to be a recognized chapter and use the name.  4) A constitution will need to be submitted, Chi Alpha has a template that must be followed, contact for the latest version.

It generally takes several committee meetings before a club is approved so be patient and learn the school’s values and concerns as you walk your students through the process. Colleges can be suspicious of non-students applying to form a club, be sure to work with students in the process.

Private colleges and universities, are not required to allow new clubs to form and may have a limit of religious organizations they allow. The rules and regulations can be very difficult to navigate and one needs to use wisdom and patients as they engage the process. In several situations, we have seen the delay and refusal of Chi Alpha being allowed on campus by those not being careful through the process. Reach out to the state Chi Alpha representative before you begin the process. The suggestions for a public college listed above will also apply if the campus will allow Chi Alpha to form a chapter on campus.

Is the college a two-year or four-year?

Two-year junior colleges have some challenges in establishing a Chi Alpha chapter, but they also can offer so many opportunites. We see both church sponsored Chi Alpha clubs along with full-time Chi Alpha missionary models of leadership. Junior Colleges (JC) will vary on the number of students that live in dorms and availability of a student center, which can be the most significant indicators if a Chi Alpha Chapter can be established in a traditional way. If a JC lacks both of these elements a church sponsored “college and career ministry” may be the best model to consider for reaching college students. If however, the Jr. College you’re considering has both dorms and a student center, then developing a Chi Alpha chapter could flourish. There are other dynamics one needs to consider in approaching a Chi Alpha Chapter on a JC. Great news is we have several meaningful and powerful chapters on 2-year junior colleges.

Four-year colleges/universities can be divided into two categories; under 9,00 students or over 9,000 students. A campus over 9,000 should always be pioneered by a full time and fully trained leader. The time, focus and skills needed to bring a transformation to a campus of this size should be full-time.  This doesn’t mean a part-time volunteer or church sponsored ministry may not initiate a Chi Alpha Chapter on this size of campus, but it should be understood the goal is to see a full staff team focus  on such a campus.  If a college is under 9,000 students the answer to who should pioneer is less clear. If a campus is highly residential, meaning most if not all freshmen live on campus, then the best model we have seen is led by a Chi Alpha Missionary. However, depending on how small a college may be, we have many highly effective church sponsored Chi Alpha chapters led by church staff or volunteers.

Thirdly, what is God already doing?

We desire to see a chapter of Chi Alpha planted on every four year college in the US and across the globe, we, however recognize that timing is critical in establishing a healthy Chi Alpha ministry. First, we are sensitive to the existing ministries already present on a campus. Chi Alpha has a conviction that we will only partner and not compete with other godly ministries. If a campus already has multiple vibrant collegiate ministries we may consider to focus on a campus that needs laborers to bring the good news. When there are other  ministries on a given campus does that campus need a Chi Alpha? Since Chi Alpha brings a pentecostal distinctive there just might be room for us in building His kingdom. It is important that we move onto a given campus with complete humility and partnership with the existing pockets of faith. We believe that it does little for the Kingdom of God if Chi Alpha grows at the expense of other ministries. As much as we want to plant a Chi Alpha Chapter on every campus, we are mindful that timing is critical in our decision making process.


There are basically two approaches to establishing a new Chapter of Chi Alpha; with a full time Chi Alpha Missionary or with a church staff or volunteer. Through the above questions, one could conclude that stating a Chi Alpha is not what you desire to do, instead you have a heart to start a “young adult ministry” that can impact some students but is not an on campus minsitry.  Chi Alpha is eager to share all we’ve learned and support any local church or volunteer in their efforts to reach college students for Christ.  We however, focus on forming a registered student organization and developing an on-campus community of faith that reaches the lost, focused on discipling students through fellowship, small groups, and missional living. As you have read through the three questions above, what is your conclusion for reaching the campus that you are considering? Is it to…

Start a church based Collegiate Ministry?

If so, contact your local church pastor, district youth director and Chi Alpha district representative to find out what resources are available. Please know you state Chi Alpha most likely already has a college retreat and missions that your group may be able to join. You will however not be able to call your group, Chi Alpha due to ongoing legal dynamics we face across the nation. 

Start a church sponsored Chi Alpha Ministry?

If so, contact your local Chi Alpha district representative and your pastor to start the process of establishing a Chi Alpha Chapter. If you are already a paid staff member or a volunteer, once approved by the district Chi Alpha committee, you can skip the typical fundraising process and head to a XA Pioneering Boot Camp to get started.

Start a Chi Alpha Chapter as a Chi Alpha Missionary?

If so, contact your district representative to begin the process. It will most likely begin with applying to become a Chi Alpha Director.  The process will include background checks, evaluation of your previous training and experience and determination of what Chi Alpha training’s you will be required to go through, possibly including; Support Raising Training, Reach the U, a Campus Ministry Internship Program or New Director Training, Pioneering Boot Camp. To say the least, we are excited if you would consider joining with the 1,000 Chi Alpha Missionaries reaching students for Christ.

 If you desire to start a Chi Alpha Chapter, please first contact your District Chi Alpha Representative. Secondly, let the National Pioneering Team know you are interested in pioneering a new chapter through this short form.