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.