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!