It is my observation that in many cases (not all) that older College Ministers lead the larger campus based college ministries. I think this is also tends to be true in church based college ministries, maybe to a lesser degree. Often, I think there is the feeling that they have just fallen into this and it is just happenstance. If you think that, you are missing the reality. Plus, I think there are things we can learn from these larger older College Minister led ministries that will benefit each of us.
1. They have built up trust with partners.
They have supporting individuals and churches that know them, trust them, and even send students to them. They and their ministry are a known quantity. Nothing replaces trust. When trust is not there.....nothing else much matters. There are two parts to this....being known first and then being trusted. This is huge with individual donors. No matter how new or young you are in college ministry, you can work at being known by your partners. Your partners are whomever supports or makes your ministry possible. Just doing your work is not enough. Trust comes after they know you. First, they have to know you.
2. Ability to recruit top staff
When someone is known and trusted, that word gets around. People want to work for someone like that. But, there is a network that recommends people. That network also just has a wider awareness of who is out there. The larger college ministries have top staff and part of the reason they do is these older College Ministers are not afraid to recruit people brighter and smarter than they are. Age and experience brings a level of security that gives a freedom in recruiting top people. Also, these College Ministers have and express a desire to help younger college ministers succeed. The church based College Minister has to recruit top volunteers out of the church to invest in and mentor college students, teach classes and serve as adopting families.
3. Ability to mentor and train staff and student leaders
These College Ministers realize one of their main responsibilities is to train, mentor and encourage their staff
and leaders. They take that responsibility seriously and are intentional about doing it. One Head College Football Coach said his job was to coach the coaches and they coached players. Staff, student leaders and volunteers must be trained to be successful in their roles.
4. An on-going tradition of a strong ministry and a recognition on campus
Excellence breeds excellence. These College Ministers don't make wholesale changes each year. They tend to tweak
what they do. Students and others know what to expect from the ministry. Student leaders have seen it done before. There is a general awareness of the ministry on campus and a positive feel about it, even by those who don't attend or connect to it.
5. Relationships to administration
This one particularly applies to campus based ministries. Long term College Ministers can develop a personal and
even peer relationship to administrators in high positions. Again, trust is a factor here. They have learned they can trust this person. He or she will not do something improper or outside the boundaries. These administrators come to see this person as a co-worker. They have the keys to they campus and they can open or close doors for the ministry. When there is a long term earned trust relationship, they often open doors....even surprising big time doors.
What can all of us in college ministry learn from these long time pros?
1. Work at building trust relationships
2. Invest in developing others.
3. Figure out the best way to do our ministry and keep tweaking it for better....not just changing every year and copying the next new thing or the big ministry down the road.
4. Commit to being where you are for the long term until the Lord leads you away rather than looking for somewhere to jump when you have those tough years....we all have them. Some wisecracker once said, "The grass is always greener over the septic tank."