Thursday, December 29, 2011

An Over Simple Explanation of the Job Losses Among Baptist Collegiate Ministers

Since I posted the comment that, I find it ironic in this time of Baptist leaders lamenting the loss of the 20 something generation to the church that the most significant cuts in college ministry positions seems to be happening now, some have asked for an explanation.

At the Southern Baptist Convention summer before last there was a vote to re-direct $50 million dollars that went thru the North American Mission Board back to the different State Conventions and this money would be used primarily to plant new churches. The money that comes to the Arkansas Baptist Convention is a very small percentage of the over-all operating budget. But, for the non-deep south states the money that come from NAMB represents often the majority of that state convention's budget. In some of these states as they have received these cuts they have had to let people go and many of them have been college ministers.

There are also college ministers direct salaried by NAMB and many of their salaries are being terminated at the end of this month. These people serve in non-deep south states. There is the feeling among some Baptist leadership that it would be more effective to start a church on these campuses rather than have a traditional college ministry model (that means like BSU/BCM).

Some would prefer that we do church plants on southern campuses where there is an active BCM and local churches reaching out to students. Many in campus ministry positions (and me) feel that in many situations campus administrations will not be nearly as willing to work with a campus church as they are a traditional BCM like campus ministry.

The bottom line in all of this is some of our best and most effective campus ministers serving on large nationally strategic campuses no longer have a salary and with no stated plans to replace them with anything else.

One deep south BCM campus minister with a very large ministry has been told there will soon be a NAMB funded church start on his campus. Even if you favor the campus church plant approach over BCM type ministry, you would assume these campus church plants would first be placed on campuses where there is no active ministry at this time.

Any additional thoughts, clarification and disagreement is welcome.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Registration for National Collegiate Ministries summit

You can register at Click on Events and then click on Collegiate Summit.

Hotel registration is done individually. There are several hotels close by the Lifeway building. Hotels listed as close to Vanderbilt are not dar away such as Hampton, etc. The closest just across the street is the Holiday Inn Express which is already close to full.

National Collegiate Ministries Summit-May 2-4, Nashville

The program features Gabe Lyons, Jon Acuff, Pete Wilson and Eric Geiger speaking at the plenary sessions with worship led by Dove award winner, Michael Boggs.

Mega Seminars will feature ones like "Dialogical Apologetics"; "Mentoring" with Chuck Lawless; "First Year Out", Tim Clydesdale; "Staying Together When Everything is Coming Apart"; "Hot Topics in College Ministry" and several others.

Idea Labs will feature topics like "Reaching More Men"; "What We Should Learn From Other Campus Ministries"; "Growing a Culture that Engages Lost Students"; "Going Big:Taking Your Ministry to the Next Level"; "Church Ministry in a Traditional Setting"; " Understanding and Reaching This Generation" and lots more.

Affinity groups will help you connect and network with people in similar situations.

Early Bird registration cost is $120 (which covers 2 meals) until January 31 when the cost goes up. Cost for a spouse attending with a full registration is $35.

All sessions will be held at Lifeway in downtown Nashville. There are several hotels close by with a variety of costs available. Some scholarship info will be announced at the first of the year.

Be part of the collegiate ministry family gathering in Nashville.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Do Students Drop Out?

Anyone who has worked in college ministry has experienced the frustration of students starting to attend your ministry, then disappear. What happened?

9 Reasons Students Drop Out:

1. Survival needs have been met.
-Many come in the beginning looking for friends and somewhere to belong. They do not come out of a desire to be in a Chritian group or for worship and discipleship.

2. Do not become part of a group.
-no matter how strong their desire for Christian involvement, if they do not feel they have found personal friendships and connection, they likely will not stay.

3. Personality Clashes/Change of Friends
-just as relationships will hold them in a ministry, so will a clash in relationships run them out. They may also no longer feel close to the group they came with to the ministry.

4. Schedule becomes more complicated with work
-many students start out not working, but later add a job.

5. Feel they have done all the program has to offer
-some feel if they can do everything a ministry has to offer in one or two years, why stay?

6. Feel pulled between competing forces
-in some collegiate settings, a variety of churches or on campus ministries offer opportunities and students may drop one due to time or a feeling that they have been pushed to choose one over the other.

7. Differing Beliefs from Those Stated
-they may have become involved due to relationship or worship needs but come to perceive their beliefs and those expressed in the ministry are not compatible.

8. Strong Involvement Pattern Not Set
-some never quite get into a pattern or routine and simply disappear without meaning to. How students feel after dropping out goes a long way toward determining, if they ever come back. Were they missed or were they put down for not being there? Some never come back out of embarrassment.

9. Moral Failure
-Sometimes a student makes a choice so totally opposite their beliefs that their sense of guilt or failure drives them away from their Christian community.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

More Things to Do @ the End of The Semester

11. Write a personal thank you note to each church/pastor or indivdual that financially supported your ministry this year....or write a year end thank you to each Sunday School class that provided food, etc. Share a highlight of the semester.

12. Or, send a picture Christmas card with a picture of your large group, a program shot, etc to all your stakeholders.

13. Take some home-made goodies or some great candy to the offices on campus that have helped you during the year.

14. Send a picture Christmas card of your large group to all students who attended this semester and if possible write a brief personal greeting on each.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What to Do @ the End of a Semester

1. Take your spouse out to eat to make up a little for all the dinners you were late for or missed.

2. Look at a list or picture of those who attended your welcome week events and make a list of those who did not come back or disappeared along the way.

3. Write a note or Christmas card to these students that they will receive at home...warm and encouraging...not where were you, you dirty dog!

4. Find 2 or 3 books to read before spring semester starts ( ok, one or two may be ones you "read in").

5. Take a day alone somewhere to think, pray, de-compress.

6. Have a "Pizza talk-back session" with 4 or 5 freshmen about why they got involved, why they stayed connected and why some friends did not.

7. Have a "Pizza talk- back session" with 4 or 5 upperclassmen about what worked, what didn't and why. 2Principles to remember: students think and talk better with pizza in their mouth and you need to ask questions and shut up and listen....don't explain why and your pizza, listen and make notes!

8. Read your Bible a little more.

9. Work out out topics/outlines for your talks for next semester.

10. Take your spouse out to eat!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry (19, 20, 21)

19. If your meeting space and chairs are not at least 60% capacity, you won't attract other students. College students want to be a part of something that is growing and lots of empty chairs sends a negative message. Determine your set-up and number of chairs by the number you are expecting. (this was submitted by one of our readers in response to #2.)

20. Never let a student come through one of your events without getting a name and contact info, if possible.

21. Donors tend to give in relationship to what is asked for or expected.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry"

16. Campus wide publicity and promotion not only tells about an event or the ministry in general-But-the quality of the publicity or promotion tells about the quality of the ministry.

17. If multiple staff members know all the same students and work with all the same students, you are not using your multiple staff to full advantage.

18. The Big attracts--the Small keeps.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry"-Part 5

13. To maintain upperclass involvement, there must be opportunities/responsibilities not available to them earlier in the ministry.

14. Large special/fun events (Homecoming, Welcome events) can be used to attract students to your ministry and help the campus at large be aware of your ministry.

15. To have a ministry larger than your personal ministry, you must organize and administrate effectively.

Remember, no one knows who said them first and not everyone agrees they are true.

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry" Part 4

10. To increase the number of students your ministry is reaching, increase the number of students in leadership/ownership roles.

11. You will attract students like the students who are already in your ministry.

12. For a college ministry to continue to grow, it must have more than one "in" group.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry - Part III

No one knows who said them first and not everyone agrees they are true.

7. To reach a particular student group, reach someone in that group.

8. Students will only hear four (4) announcements at most.

9. The single most effective way to grow your ministry is to establish an intentional and specialized freshmen ministry.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry" - Part 2

Here are numbers 4,5, and 6 of "Wise Sayings and Principles...". Remember, no one knows who said them first and not everyone agrees they are true.

4. A college ministry usually reflects the strengths and weaknesses of its leader.

5. When you stop intentionally recruiting and training leaders, you have begun the end of your ministry.

6. Who you reach determines who you can and cannot reach.

Comments and additions welcome!

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Wise Sayings and Principles of College Ministry" - Part 1

This the first in a series I will be posting. I plan to post during the series about twenty principles and wise sayings that float around among experienced college ministers. No one knows who said them first and there would not be unanimous agreement that all are true. Many you likely have heard and some probably you have not.
1. It takes 3 years to get your ministry going to it's full capacity or for it to become your own.

2. A meeting space will only fill to 80% capacity on a regular basis.

3. Once students have been inside your regular meeting place, they are more likely to come back.

More to come...your comments or submissions invited!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

5 Secrets of Successful College Ministers

I am so blessed to be in a position where I get to be around and talk with lots of College Ministers. Some call and we talk and a few of those I have been fortunate enough to go to their campus and see them in action. Here is the first thing I have learned: the ones who ask for help are the ones who are already doing a terrific job! I have been fortunate to get to be friends with and be around some of the best ones. Let me share what I think are their "secrets".

1. They keep looking and learning new things. They never feel they have it figured out. They are always looking at other ministries and asking questions. They are willing and open to learn from those who aren't as successful or experienced as they are.

2. They don't make major changes each year; they just tweak it a little here and there. They keep building on their campus situation and personal spiritual gifts. They continue to be students of their campus and situation.

3. They build their ministry up by building up their student leaders (both spiritually and numerically). They look for and develop leaders.

4. They look for and allow others to counter-balance their weaknesses. They are not afraid to promote others or put them in the spotlight.

5. They understand that a ministry of any size must have significant funding and they are willing to commit time and priority to raising money to develop and expand their ministry and or staff.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How Do You Know if You are Being Successful in College Ministry?

I remember when I first came to ASU, I asked my boss, Dr Tom Logue, what he wanted me to do here? I knew several things I wanted to do and saw some obvious needs. But, I think I was asking him,"what is success here in your eyes?". College ministry success is hard to define. Here are some questions or measures some use....they may be good or bad. I list first what I think is the number one test and after that, there is no order.

1. What do your students do after college in regard to church and ministry?

2. Does your ministry look like the campus (wide variety of students, colors, Greeks, athletes...or are they all alike)?

3. Are you teaching students and giving them opportunities to serve, lead, witness, or are you just preaching to them?

4. Are you depending more on flashing lights, big sound systems and hair product rather than the Lord?

5. Do you have at least one percent of the student body at your large group meeting (5,000 = 50, 10,000=100, etc)?

6. Do I try to work with and or be encouraging and supportive of all who are genuinely trying to serve the Lord and the students of my campus? (It's real hard sometimes!)

7. Are you doing the KEY things your stakeholders, bosses, financial supporters expect? Do you know what they are?

8. Am I utilizing the strengths/gifts God has uniquely given me? (Don't cheat on utilizing your gifts, it is the key to personal satisfaction as well as your number one asset.)

9. Am I building on the unique opportunities and needs THIS campus offers?

10. When I leave will this ministry be stronger than when I found it or is it ALL built around me and will collapse when I leave???

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tribute to College Ministry Spouses

I just returned from speaking at the "Big Weekend" fall retreat at Virginia Tech. One of the things that made the retreat so enjoyable for the 150 students involved was the great food. Friday night there was home-made taco salad and punch bowl cake....all they could eat and
that was in the middle of their Bible study groups volleyball tournament. So, lots was eaten. Then on Saturday morning there was breafast casseroles, hot biscuits and sausage gravy. How did all this good food magically appear? You probably guessed it....Laura Cook, wife of the BCM director cooked it all. I asked how much she got paid for such a huge probably guessed...nothing. It was her gift to the ministry!

In August I talked with a BCM director who needed a woman associate. When they could not find one, his wife agreed to take on the job (she had previous experience.). When a hitch developed in being able to pay her....she said she would work for free! Full time for free cause the ministry needed it.

I know lots of college ministry wives who have and are making these sort of gifts to honor the Lord and be a blessing to a campus. So, Saaaallllutttte to them!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Power of Mentoring

One of the hot topics in college ministry today is mentoring. A few years ago we asked the sudents who served on all our ministry teams to look at a list of 17 events or ministries that we listed and tell us which ones were of most value to them. I was blown away by what came out number one.

It was our weekly individual meetings with them. I had only put it on the list to make sure we had a long list for them to choose from. In recent years I have been asked why so many of our students went to the ministry. Simply put, I think it was and is these individual mentoring weekly meetings.

There are lots of good new books and videos out talking about how to mentor. But, I think it boils down to three simple elements.
1. Spend time with them. An investment of time in the person is a necessity. That's when they learn to trust you and can even be a time when you role model some things for them.

2. Help them see and accept the spiritual gifts and abilities God has placed in their life.
Seeing our own abilities is hard to do. A mentor points out and affirms these abilities in the one they are encouraging.

3. Help them evaluate and learn from their experiences and attempts at serving the Lord. Even though it may have been a disaster, you can help them profit from the experience and not feel
defeated or give up.

God uses mentors and today's college generation is looking for mentors.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Mistake Church College Ministries are Making??

Someone who has never been a church college minister commenting on a mistake being made in church college ministry may seem inappropriate. But, in 41 years of campus based ministry I have seen lots of church based ministry and talked to my student leaders each week about their church experience.

Simply put, from my view, the most common and harmful mistake is separating students from the rest of the congregation. Students have said to me in recent years, "I don't know anyone at my church but the students and those who work in the University ministry." Churches that once did student adoption programs where students were paired up with a family in the church have dropped the program. So many of our students today come out of broken and or dysfunctional homes that one of the best things we can do for them is connect them to a family.

As students search for their major and direction in life, one of the best things they can do is see and talk with those who follow Jesus and do non-ministerial jobs. First Baptist, Tallahassee (Florida State) has a lunch where they suit students at tables according to career interest. Eating with them at those tables are older adults who work in those careers. What a blessing to both groups!

To my knowledge no follow-up study has been done to see how those who have been in student only worship transition to church involvement after college. But, I fear that they have not learned how to do church where everything is not specifically for them. The ultimate and most important test for any college ministry is what their students do after college. One college Sunday school teacher said to me some time back, "what students do after college is of no concern to us.". I think he meant we can't contol it....but it needs to be a concern to us in deciding how we do church college ministry. Let's not succumb to just what draws the biggest crowd for the moment.

By the way. Do you know the latest studies by Lifeway of 20'somethings show one of their great desires is to know and be mentored by adults older than them. Let's do our students and our church a favor by doing all we can to connect them!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Campus Based and Church College Ministers Competing or Working Together

Working together with those around us who do college ministry is an obvious. Sometimes there exists a line of tension between BCM ministers and their local church college ministers. Why is this and how can we improve it?

BCM directors say they often feel that they have to compete against the very church ministries they are trying to help. The old given that the churches take Sunday and Wednesday nights and the BCM gets the other nights no longer holds true. "Sunday School groups" now often meet all different times and nights. Many churches now have gone to separate college student worship services that meet different nights of the week. Church college ministers say BCM folks don't understand the pressure on the church guys to produce numbers. One says he will never forget his first Monday staff meeting where the pastor said to him, "We were down 50 in students in Sunday School. Why is that?". The implication was somehow the college minister was at fault.

Some BCM directors have shared the frustration of inviting church college ministers to start of school freshmen events to have them get up and announce events they were sponsoring that directly conflicted with the BCM weekly main event. One BCM director said, "I can't believe he just did that with my microphone!".

One explanation goes "there are lots of students on campus not being reached, so what's the big deal?". Part of the problem is student leaders often feel over stretched and caught between the two...their church and the campus based ministry. Time constraints of students often force them to choose and one or the other of the ministries suffers the loss of a leader. So, what do we do?

Communication continually is huge. Meet together regularly. Making the other aware of dates as early as possible is very helpful. Realize the on campus ministry offers some pluses the church ministry cannot. Never forget one of the ultimate goals is for believers to have a long term commitment to the Bride of Christ..the church. Join together in joint efforts where possible. Remember students are often turned off altogether when they sense there is an unhealthy sense of competition. Don't copy the other, but accentuate the unique aspects and strengths of your ministry. Try to separate your ego from what is best for the students' long term relationship to the Lord. Sometimes that is the toughest part. Remember, one of the strength of Baptists is when we work together!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Is it OK to Spend $20,000 on Welcome Week?

A college minister friend in another state shared with me that one of the ministries reaching out to his campus had spent about $20,000 on thieir Welcome Week events. As a BCM director with a limited budget, he was blown away by that figure. We discussed conflicting feelings about the priority and importance of that first week and whether it's ok to spend that much money in that way. He shared another interesting story about a local church that was doing a welcome event for students, renting busses for it, etc. After they figured their total cost, it came to about $7,000 for the one evening. As they thought about it, someone said, "We have part-time staff members we don't pay that much.". They decided to cancel the event.

Years ago a student friend of mine who attended a major university was telling me about his fraternity's rush/recruitment plans. I asked him how much they would spend. He guessed they would spend several thousand dollars. It made me think, if they will do that to get 50 guys, what should I be doing to try to touch a whole campus during the first couple of weeks. I upped my budget....but not even close to that catagory.

It raises lots of interesting questions. Are we spending what we ought to? How much is too much? Or, where are we subbing money for creativity and hard work? Or, if it were a baptist ministry, should they have combined with other Baptist ministries there and made one excellent event with split cost?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Campus church Plants vs Traditional Baptist Campus Ministries

One of the hot topics in collegiate ministry for Baptists is the idea of Campus church plants. Some seem to advocate this as the new and only way to go for Baptists. While others say it is appropriate in some situations, but is not best in many others. Part of this discussion has develeloped as a result of the budget changes at the North American Mission Board that has resulted in many well known and successful campus ministers losing their funding and the move of NAMB toward funding more campus church plants.

A compelling argument for a campus church is when there is no evangelical or specific Baptist church close to the campus. Or, no Baptist church is making an attempt to minister to the campus. But, for a Baptist agency to sponsor a church plant on a campus where there are local churches reading out to the campus or an existing BCM ministry seems inappropriate.

Some argue that campus church plants have been more successful than traditional BCM models. Yet, some of the examples cited are of campus church plants sponsored by larger churches that have put large amounts of money into their plant which far exceeds the amount of money the BCM has to operate on. That points to the value of resources, not which model is most effective.

One BCM director being de-funded by a shift in philosophy, says after his years of investment on this campus of national significance, that the doors that are now open to him likely will not remain open to a possible future church plant. There is some question as to whether
campus administrations will relate as willingly to campus church plants as they do a more traditional campus ministry.

Another question to consider in this discussion, does a BCM ministry and a campus church plant do the same things? Early observations would tend to say no. A BCM ministry tends to be more involved in the everyday life of a college student helping them answer the particular life stage questions they face. A church campus plants tends to focus on worship and the related areas.

There is a definitely a right place for campus church plants, but like most things, it is not a one thing fits all answer. A friend of mine who is a college administrator says, "For every difficult question, there is an obvious and easy answer.....that is usually wrong!"

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Characteristics of a Growing Collegiate Ministry"

Mike Woodruff, formerly the head of Ivy jungle, developed this list in his observation of collegiate ministries all over the country and from all denominational and non-denominational affiliations. It is shared with Mike's permission.

1. Staffed by people who genuinely love Christ, students and the university.
2. Located close to campus-meeting on or near campus.
3. Evangelical or Pentecostal in theology.
4. Led by a strong, passionate leader capable of sharing the vision, long tenure.
5. Have a vision for growth. They talk about it, get wired for it and don't accept the status quo.
6. Growth happens in the fall, especially the first month. Spend most of their marketing budget on events the first month or two. Make it easy and desirable for students to attend groups first meetings.
7. Ethnic specific. Speak the same language; sing the same songs.
8. Provide students with a sense of community. Create a sense of group identity.
9. Non-denominational or make it very clear the group is an open fellowship.
10. Strong worship component-must be quality, up to date and music is a big part of that.
11. Provide students with an opportunity to serve.
12. Already big-the first 25 or first 50 or first 200 is the hardest.
13. Have pushed past the growth barriers that might exist.
14. Have figured out how to get along with the university.
15. Find multiple opportunities for students to lead and take ownership.
-discern who those students are that lead others and cultivate them.
16. Have figured out how to use adult volunteers - specific interest matched with student need.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trouble posting comments to my blog?

I have been told that some have tried posting comments on my blog and they don't show. If you try and this is the case, let me know. You can email me at or facebook me. Thanks!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Should a Christian collegiate Ministry have Christian in it's name?

A well known college ministry took "Christ" out of their name. They felt it would help them be more effective reaching non-believers.

Some years ago on the campus of Arkansas State University, students complained because a campus Christian group was having events with titles that sounded very "non-Christian". Students complained about their being mis-led into attending these events. The school made a policy that events sponsored by a Christian group had to be labeled as to who was sponsoring it because students had every right to know what they were attending. This came as a result of their event in the campus auditorium entitled, "How to Have Maximum Sex".

Should a Campus ministry's name let students know what it is? Is the name being "vague" more effective or is it deceptive? Lots of questions to ponder there?
Ps I still love the names Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Baptist Student Union and Baptist Student Ministry which make up the largest college ministry in America.

The 4 Seasons of a College Minister's Ministry

Just as there are seasons to a calenda year, there are seasons to our life. Too many get out of college ministry cause they aren't young anymore. Briefly, here are what I think the four seasons are:
The near peer or starter, easy to move in college circles cause you look and think like a college student. The weakness is the ministry will often be limited to one circle of friends to which he or she relates as an almost peer.

The Cool adult or Role Model: has a young family or is a real world functioning single.
The strength is their modeling to students "the NEXT step" in life. The weakness is difficulty learning to balance family and demanding ministry.

The Respected Veteran/The Builder: he/she has experience to draw on and can relate to pastors and faculty and administrators as a peer. The weakness at this point is it is easy to start losing connection to students.

The Loving Parent/The statesman: an obvious strength is filling the loving parent void that so many students today feel and a rich background of connections. One weakness is it is easy to "preach at" students.

There are several strengths and weaknesses in each season....the key is to get honest about your season and play to the strengths of it. Remember; too many people get out of college ministry just at the point they know enough to do some good!

I have many more thoughts on these, but this is a simple version for those of you who asked for it. I would be interested in hearing YOUR thoughts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What former Collegiate ministry students say Mattered Most!

After just winding up 41 years of local campus ministry, hearing what students say mattered and helped most is beneficial to all of us who do campus ministry and are trying to help those doing campus ministry. I just finished reading letters from the students who were in our ministry when we first started out. These formers students are now in their 50's...some retired because of having done well financially, others in very responsible executive positions and others just scrambling to make a living.

These were the words and phrases that appeared in their thank you letters: "a safe place", "affirmation", "you gave me responsibility". "You held me accountable"......accountability showed up again and again.

How is your ministry doing being a
-safe place to figure out beliefs?
-ministry of Accountability?
-ministry of affirmation?
-a ministry that provides responsibility/unapologetically asks students to serve?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

3 Key Words for College Ministry

3 Words go a long way in your college ministry touching students lives and being involved in God's transformation of students' lives.  The 3 words are Ownership, Identity, and Example.

1. OWNERSHIP-If students feel their ideas, thoughts, service matters, they will invest most of themselves in the ministry.  Are they a part of key decisions that are made?  Does what they think and do matter?  If they think so, they will feel ownership and that is huge!

2.IDENTITY-One of the things that alums out of our ministry say again and again, "I found out who I was as a part of that ministry."  One of our tasks is to help students as they work thru the process of working out who they are, why they have value and what they have to offer in life (spiritual gifts God has given them).  An alum from many years ago shared with me the other day that he credited me with knowing who he was.  That is not a compliment to me, but just points to the strategic place we serve in that time in their life.

3. EXAMPLE-The most powerful influencing agent to students' lives is the example they see....YOURS and other students particularly uppperclassmen.  There is nothing that is more valuable than students seeing someone model what it means to live as godly, mature people.  Bringing students into a healthy Christian group where they can see students model servanthood, leadership, competency, integrity....the list can go on.  The power of Example is irrereplaceable!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Six Tasks for a Successful College Ministry

1.  Develop a Healthy, loving Community - People are drawn to it and can be helped in their healing and growth by just being part of a healthy loving community based on Biblical truth.
2.  Enlarge Students' World View - Help them see a wider world than where they grew up and where they go to school.  Help them see faith is more than God helping them be happy!
3.  Train and Develop Leaders - If you want to help the church of tomorrow, reach the world today, touch your campus and even grow and maintain your own ministry, developing leaders is a must...not a nice option.
4.  Ride the Horse that brought you. - Use the gifts God has given you in the unique situation where you are.  You can't just copy someone else's ministry because they are not identical to you and their situation is not identical to yours.
5.  Develop a wide network of Partners. - People who love you, encourage you, share your vision, provide financial support.  Never ever think you can go it alone.  Or, you will go it alone away from the ministry!
6.  Work the Seasons of Your Ministry. - Different things need to be done at different times.  You can't do everything all the time...give priority to what is in season and then give the next season's priorities the time they deserve.

Is a College Minister a Teacher or a Preacher/Speaker?

Some would say this is a false question because you must and often do both.  Yet, I know many very effective college ministers that would not rate themselves highly as a speaker and don't see that as their strength.  I do think there is something in the way we view and define our role as to which one of those titles we choose.

Although I speak each week at our large group worship, I would catagorize myself as a teacher.  Part of what that means to me is that I am to be helping students learn to think and teaching them to be evaluative.  I understand that there are certain topics I need to talk about every year...cause they are basic and no one else is talking about them.  Jeff Iorge, President of Golden Gate Seminary who wrote the little book, IS GOD CALLING ME? said recently that he spoke to a group of 300 college students about calling and asked them to hold their hand up if they had heard a message from their pastor on calling...3 or 4 held their hand up.  I try to talk about "Calling" every year.

I think church based college ministers tend to see themselves more as preachers and campus based college ministers tend to see themselves more as teachers.  Partly, I think church based folks do that because "preaching" is central to church events.  The danger I think when we classify ourselves as "Preachers/Speakers" is that we may be thinking about what is something new, different, and exciting I can say that will grab attention.  And in doing that, we neglect to "teach" about some of the basics.

Which are you Teacher or Preacher/Speaker and why???

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A great Idea for Church College Ministers

One of the issues for students today is not knowing what they want to do or how their major fits with real life.  Zach Allen, college minister at 1st Baptist, Tallahassee, told me he has a lunch once a year for students and they are seated at a table with people out of the church who do what their major is.  The Accounting people all sit with a CPA; the Pre-law folks sit with some attorneys, etc.  What a great idea. 

Besides helping them with career and life thoughts, it connects them to someone in the church other than just their peers.  Way to go Zach!  It might even dawn on those students to reach out to students and befriend them when they are "the old folks" at the church.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's A College Minister Supposed to Do???

Some years ago a friend in college ministry said they thought a college minister should just go sit on campus and help people that came up for help and had questions.  Unfortunately, I don't think it works that way.

There is a mistaken idea developing today that a college minister is a preacher/speaker to college students.  I think that is wrong....being a great college speaker and being a college minister are not the same.  I know lots of great college ministers that are not speakers and I know lots of college speakers you wouldn't want on campus all the time. 

So, what are we supposed to do?
-Help students handle college life (learn to mature, handle tough questions, figure out who they are).
-Even be a partner with parents....lots of parents come to me asking me to help their son or daughter on big issues and little issues.  One mother at Summer Orientation 2 summers ago asked me to promise I would stay at ASU till her son graduated. 
-Be a teacher....I think it is more important for a college minister to be a teacher than a great speaker.  Thru the years some have fussed at me for talking about some of the same things....that's cause I believe we still have to be teaching the basics over and over again...if I just come up with something cool and new to talk about each week, I am just trying to impress students, not help them.  It is easy to get caught in the trap of wanting to impress students.
-Have the guts to tell them things they don't want to hear (you need to go to class; you need to develop some discipline in your life, yeah you need to grow up etc)
-Help them realize that God may be different than they thought in high school, but that doesn't mean that God isn't there or probably is God is even better than they thought.
-Help them know when a pastor or youth minister they admired/trusted has a moral failing....God didn't fail and the faith is not hollow and phoney! 

If you aren't talking to college students about what is going on in college (cheating on tests, finding a major, how to deal with guys/girls, etc) you may be helping them spiritually, but you aren't doing all a college minister needs to be doing. Hooray for all the great college ministers out there who don't get the credit they deserve because they aren't cool college speakers.  We only need a few great college speakers, but we need a ton of great college ministers.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Must Read Book for College Ministers

I must admit I have been disappointed in the last couple of books that have been written to help us understand and help this generation of college students.  BUT, that is not the case for me with Tim Elmore's book, Generation IY.  It is great, but scarey.  It is excellent!  Some things he addresses are Why guys are not growing up.  One factor is that students today more and more live in a world of just their peers and they do not have enough adult role models to help them gradually transition into the adult world.  When they get to it, many now are turning around and moving back home.

As I contemplate retiring from the ministry at Arkansas State University, someone the other day was kind of enough to tell me they wanted me to continue and why was I quitting.  I jokingly said, "I don't have enough hair to spike."  As I have read Elmore's book, I am reminded how much, even more now, that students need folks working with them that are not just like them. There needs to be some old guys and gals prodding them to keep growing up and maturing,  I even said to Sue this morning, "maybe, I shouldn't quit."

Tim comments on how more and more activities are aimed at seperating people.  This is where the church collegiate ministries have a huge opportunity that campus based ministries do not have....getting college students with people in different age catgories....student adoption programs that get students into homes and see how families work, sitting by people of all ages in worship, seeing familes doing life together.

This is the best book I have read for college ministers in the last couple of years!  I am suddenly feeling even better about being an old guy in college ministry!