Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's REALLY REALLY True!

Some years ago I had a student leader who when he spoke he would often say something was "really, really true". I would tease him and ask, "Is really really true more true than something being just true?". I recently heard myself saying something was REALLY REALLY true.....that really really true fact is the number one reason students come to a Christian event the first time is a personal invitation.

I continue to believe in promotion, publicity, etc, but have renewed my belief in the reality of personal invitations being a huge key. I have recently been a volunteer assisting my church's College Minister in some of our start of school enlistment events. We have done some really first class events. We spent a significant portion of our fall budget. The simple result has been, regardless of the event and promotion, those best attended were the result of personal invitations.

A friend who leads a large ministry shared with me recntly that his students now seem to be more comfortable inviting and bringing new students to their small groups first rather than to their weekly large group event. That is totally contrary to what has been true for them previously and in all of my experience. He doesn't know quite why. But, we do know that it is REALLY REALLY true that the personal invitation is key.

REALLY!

Friday, September 23, 2016

What Do You Do When You Have Done ALL You Know to Do?

A friend called recently who serves on what might be one of the top 10 toughest campuses for Christian College Ministry. He has been there a few years, begun to understand the culture and how to work in the midst of it. He has seen positive response and growth in students' lives and in the numerical size of the ministry. This first month of school he has done those things that have worked so well the last couple of years.....with very little response.

What do you do when you have done all you know how to do.....and it does not bring the success, attendance, gospel conversations, salvations to which you are accustomed? Some years ago, I was lamenting about one of those such falls to my wife. She said something simple that helped me grasp reality....a little. "Every year cannot be bigger and better than the previous year...it just isn't possible."

So, what do you do when you have done all you know to do?

1. Be faithful. Keep on!
Trust the Lord. Keep doing what God has called you to do. It does not mean the Bible is no longer true. It does not mean God's Spirit has left. Keep being faithful and serving where God has called you.

2. Focus on who and what you have.
Do you have more time available? Invest it in those students who continue to be active in your ministry. Connect with administrative people who have an effect on your ministry.

3. Don't fuss at those students who have responded.
Most of us who have been active in church for some years have had the experience of having the preacher fuss at those of us present for those not present. Be careful to not cast a negative gloom over the ministry due to your disappointment and frustration. It can have a negative impact on the spirit of the ministry.

4. Is a different door opening to you?
Be alert to the possibility that a new ministry option or opportunity on that campus may present itself. We can miss it, if we are all doom and gloom and stubborn in fighting with the circumstances. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.". Psalm 118:24

My friend said he called to get my "wisdom". This is the "wisdom" I shared, "Some years are just like that..they just are.".

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's Hard to Draw a Crowd on a College Campus!

It's not unusual to hear someone complain that some college ministry is not having as large of a crowd as they should. Usually, those voicing the concern have never done College Ministry.

Recently, Sue and I attended an event on campus to hear a speaker the University was hosting. The speaker was nationally recognized in his field, had published at least one book. His appearance had been publicized on campus and we had read about it in our local newspaper. The article had stated that the event was open to the public. Sue was interested in his topic and I am always interested to hear "professional speakers" to see what I can learn from a speaker's perspective.

I have confessed in previous writings that I am "a counter". I not only count at my own events, I often count at other events. So, at this highly advertised event, I counted. There were thirty-five (35) people there to hear this nationally recognized expert at a well advertised event.....35....thirty-five.....35! I would imagine they had paid him several hundred dollars. It is a reminder that the amount of money spent and good publicity don't insure a large response. I am reminded again that the number one reason that students surveyed said they attended a Christian event for the first time was...a personal invitation.

Having a crowd on a college campus is hard.....and....getting harder. I had my own first experience recently when NO ONE showed up for a collegiate event for which I was a co-speaker. NO ONE...NO ONE! That was a first for me.

When you are disappointed with your attendance, remember there are high dollar events with small attendance. Keep on!

Monday, September 5, 2016

5 Simple Rules for a Positive Campus Ministry Presence

1. Know the rules and keep the rules.
If the campus says don't put flyers on windshields, don't put flyers on windshields, etc.

2. Know the key holders and make sure they know you.
This can range from janitors to Administrative Assistants to the VP of Student Affairs. Lots of people on campus can help you or block your way. Do they know you and do they know the value of what you are doing? If they know you, they are more likely to help you.

3. Speak no ill of other Campus ministries.
You will not agree with everyone's methods or theology. But, unless they are absolutely a cult doing great damage to students, keep your lip zipped about them. That increases the odds they will do the same about you and it does not feed negative impressions of campus ministry as a whole.

4. Walk through the main Student Center EVERY day.
You will see students who need to see you. You will see key holders and key holders will see you.Students you know will introduce you to other students. You will have a greater sense of what is going on throughout the campus...not just your thing.

5. Go to campus events.
You will see students you know. You can meet students you don't know. Key holders will see you. Especially make a point of going if a key holder invites you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How Many Students Do You Plan to Keep?

If you do College Ministry, you are in the midst of or just finishing your start of school outreach events. If I were to ask you, "How many are you planning on keeping?". Some would say "all" and others would say, "who knows".

If your ministry does lots of different outreach events, there is the obvious realization all of them eill not stick and many will be touched only once. But seriously, how many are you PLANNING to keep? I was talking with a friend about a ministry he is close to. They have in the last couple of years had way more students in their outreach events....but, when the dust settles....they have the same number involved. Are you content with your same old number you have every year?

If you manage to touch more, why don't more stick? There can be lots of answers to that question. But, I believe the simplest answer is, you did not have an organization or structure to keep more. Want to reach more freshmen? Do you just plan to have more in each Freshmen Bible Study OR are there more Freshmen Bible Studies or some that meet at different times and places as previously? What changes the equation?

Are there additional seats at your weekly worship event or are the same old number and your hope is they will fill and overflow? Remember, the 80% rule.

Ok honestly now....how many are you structured to reach and maintain?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 Reasons to Develop Student Leaders for College Ministry

1. When you develop student leaders you multiply your time.
-Students will do tasks that free you to do other things.

2. You reach students that you would not reach.
-Students serious about the Lord and the ministry have contact with students you would never even see once.

3. You increase their growth in relationship to the Lord.
-When students accept and take responsibility in ministry it tends to deepen their desire and need to walk with the Lord.

4. It grows your relationship to them and allows them to see into your life.
-Many of them will never have had a personal relationship to an older adult who walks with the Lord. If you are married, it gives them a look into a (not perfect) but godly marriage. That's something's lots have never seen at their home.

5. It develops and trains people for leadership roles in the church for the years to come.
-Every strong local church has strong lay leaders....no church has too many. Where else will godly, mature worship leaders, teachers and deacons or elders come from?
25 Tips for Developing College Ministry Leaders
If you are interested in knowing more about working with student leaders, check out my new eBook,25 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING COLLEGE MINISTRY LEADERS on Amazon for 99 cents. It is just the practical every day way to build into the lives of students. You can read it in an hour or just read whatever tips speak to your present need.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Legal Issues for College Ministers

Although none of us in College Ministry like or want to think about it, we must be aware of legal issues that could affect us. Here is a quick view of three legal issues College Ministers must keep in mind. This is a quick summary of information provided by State College Ministry leaders Joe Graham of Georgia and Bruce McGowan of Texas at the Glorieta College Ministers conference. My purpose is to alert you to issues you may need to further consider and investigate. This is in no way a complete view of the issues and I am certainly not an attorney.

1. Travel Issues

Know the difference between "Direct Volunteers" and "Indirect Volunteers".
Your insurance likely distinguishes between them. Direct volunteers are those under your supervision. Indirect are those you send to serve somewhere else. Liability follows the vehicle first. Beware who you hand the keys to.

Vans and Mini-Buses - Most 15 passenger vans assembled before 2012 will NOT pass the "mice type" of a liability policy. Most model years since 2012 will-BUT only if you do not allow passengers to occupy the back seat (effectively turning a 15 passenger van into an 11 passenger). Typically, mini-buses will meet the stipulations. Check your policy to see if trailers are excluded.

2. A BCM in Georgia received a bill for $528 for using a picture on their website they found on the Internet to promote a mission trip. After some back and forth, they did not have to pay in this instance. Be careful what you use! There are programs that search the Internet looking for use of protected images.

3. Child Protection Issues must be considered in instances where your students work with children. Consider having these volunteers go through a "Ministry Safe Certification". One practice is to always have two adults (not of the same family) present. Ministry Safe is a Texas company that specializes in training and information for these type issues.