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!