Thursday, December 27, 2012

What is the "IT Factor" for College Ministers...Why Students Follow?

Students will immediately follow someone with great personal charisma,or who is a great speaker, or just someone they like....for a while....when the going is easy!

But, what makes college students follow someone over the long haul, work hard at their direction and even accept constructive criticism from them? What is the "It Factor"?

The "It Factor" is RESPECT! They respect them as much or even more than they like them. Each year when I would get a new 9 month just out of college Assistant, I would tell them that at the start they must choose whether to just be the students buddy or to have their respect. And I would warn them to never settle for being just their buddy...but some would.

You see there is a tragic trap in most, if not all of us....we want to be liked. So, we say and do things to get people to like us. Conversely, we don't want to say or do anything that will perhaps cause them not to like us. One of the tasks of a College Minister is to be lovingly honest with students. That's how they grow and change. But, the risk is that they won't like us. Some will walk away. But, in my experience, only a few walk away when they know you are being lovingly honest.

I had an Assistant that our students liked very much. One time on a fine arts team trip, a student was driving the ministry van while others were sleeping. The Assistant woke up and realized they were driving dangerously over the speed limit. The Assistant said, "You need to slow down". The driver merely laughed and continued at the same speed.

The Assistant was their buddy...not a respected leader!

One common mis-understanding of those outside college ministry is that being young and cool is the most important thing. During the last year and a half, I have been privileged to be on campuses around the country. One campus where I visited, the two college ministry staffers total age is 100 years old...they really aren't too cool. But their ministry is one of the best and largest in the country. They send ministry teams all over the world.

Their students respect for who they are is out the roof!

Never ever settle for just being liked....I would even go as far as to say students can even dis-like you and respect you! Respect is the single most important factor in students following you.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Top 7 Blog Posts of 2012

I am always interested and often surprised at which of my collegiate ministry blog posts are most read and or commented on. First, it tells me what people are curious about, wrestling with in their own ministry or vehemently disagree with. So, here is the top 7 and the date they were posted.

"10 Things Parents of a College Freshmen Need to Know" 7/23/12
Several different ministries or state wide college ministries directed parents to it. It speaks to the concern of parents and points to our opportunity to partner with them.

"7 Top Reasons Students Attended a College Ministry the First Time" 8/15/12
This is the results of the great survey that the Kentucky Baptist Collegiate Ministry did in five states. Very helpful practical info.

"20 Principles and Wise Sayings of College Ministry" 8/13/12
This is my attempt to put in brief form some of why what we do works and what is just accepted truth among many college ministers.

"Why College Ministry is Harder than it has Ever Been" 1/13/12
College Ministers as a whole agree with this premise, but it is not just one thing or issue that makes it true.

"Common Characteristics of Large and Growing College Ministries" 12/20/12
This came out of my observation of different Baptist campus based ministries and a series of articles a writer did on Campus Crusade's larger ministries.

"6 Types of College Ministers" 4/2/12
This blog came out of my experience in working with different "successful" College Ministers and the growing false idea that to be a good college minister you have to be young, cool and have hair gel....nothing wrong with hair gel...except some of the best don't use it...and aren't young.

"College Ministers and Alcohol" 10/5/12
This is my most "commented" blog. The main point is that most Baptist ministries and many others assume that a potential or current college minister abstains from alcohol.
Yet, this is a changing thought among some who do or want to do college ministry. I got roasted on both sides of this I considered it a HUGE success!

Arliss Dickerson

Monday, December 24, 2012

2 Important College Ministry Reminders

This weekend I attended a worship service where 3 of my former students participated and they reminded me why I believe some things so strongly about college ministry. First, the worship band that led the music time had a drummer that had been in our campus worship band and he did a super job....only when we picked him for our campus band, he was not a super drummer....he was barely a drummer....but he was very involved in our ministry and of great character.

It reminded me why I had turned down different offers to have local church staffers help us put together a super band....just not made up of our students. I felt one of our tasks is to use and train students for service. Are you providing something for students to just observe or are you letting/asking them to serve and lead for the future benefit of the church and God's Kingdom?

Then, later in the service, a foreign missionary couple shared their testimony. He had come to our campus as the best pole vaulter in the state to our nationally known track program. He came to Freshmen Survival and met a cute girl in his family group. They began to date. She was so much of a home girl, she went home every weekend. Today, they serve thousands of miles from home. He isn't an Olympic pole vaulter and she doesn't live next door to her family. NEVER, NEVER pre-plan who you can reach and who God will call to do what!/>

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My College Ministry Christmas Wish List

When I was a boy there was a time when my mom would let me make up a "Christmas Wish List". I didn't get everything on it, but I always got something. So, here is my College Ministry Christmas Wish List:

1. That those Baptist Collegiate Ministers who were defunded and are now having to raise their salaries would get to 100% (one couple I know is now living at 1/3).

2. That State Conventions would provide insurance in some way for their College Ministers' children.

3. Colleges would not tell campus religious groups what the requirements for their student leaders can and cannot be.

4. For College Ministers to be paid as much as Football Coaches and be provided a car for them and their spouse...don't worry about the country club membership!

5. For all College/University administrators to realize what a huge benefit campus based ministries are to the whole campus,

6. For all College Ministers to not post ALL their political thoughts on Facebook.

7. For denominational leaders to realize what all their College Ministers do and how hard they work.

I know I can't have everything on my Christmas Wish any and as many of the above would be great!

Raising Collegiate Ministry Money at the End of the Year

There is a reason you get a lot of appeals for money at the end of the year. I did not understand it for a long time....cause I worked for Baptists and they usually don't give year end bonuses.

There are many people who get more money in the last week of December than they do in a regular paycheck. In fact, some get more in the last week of December than they have been paid ALL year. Some work in partnerships where they get a monthly draw and then in the last of December the rest of the profit is divided up. For some, it turns out to be a chunk. Do people think about your ministry when they do their year end giving?

One New Year's eve several years ago, I got a call from a man who said, "Could I buy your lunch today and visit a few minutes?". I thought it was probably some sort of potential counseling situation, but hey, a free lunch was involved! It turned out he was a Baptist deacon and we knew people in common. At the end of the lunch he wrote a check for $1,000 to the ministry. He became a generous monthly contributor.

I began to investigate and found that my church usually had thousands of dollars worth of checks dropped off on New Year's eve.

I began the regular practice of working on New Year's eve! In recent years,most end of the year gifts came by mail. So, I would leave a message on my office phone that said, "Hi this is Arliss. Today is December 31. I am not in my office, but you can reach me on my cell phone, 870.761......

We always sent a mailing to our alumni in December that told some good things that happened that semester and particularly some things that had been made possible by the gifts of alums.

We always enclosed a return addressed envelope. Those envelopes would return to us in December and early January, but they would also come throughout the year. Besides people who give in the last week of December, there are those who want to give at some point. They stick the envelope somewhere as a reminder. I do this in my bill I know how this works. Also, they can use the envelope to send you alumni news for your next newsletter...if you ask for it. We even would say they could send us their long cheesy Christmas letter.

A Return envelope increases your response. Remember, a check dated no later than December 31 and postmarked no later than December 31 received in January is a tax deductible gift for the previous year.

I can't promise what your college ministry will receive, but I can tell you we received several thousand dollars each December....and those little envelopes would even show up in July. But, remember, it is a process of growing isn't a one time thing.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"5 Common Characteristics of Growing and Large College Ministries"

1. Effective Small Groups
-students make personal connections
-personal accountability
-strong Biblical teaching a must

2. Leadership Development
-one to one mentorship
-students feel and take ownership
-multiplies the ministry

3. Consistent Long Term Professional Leadership
-ministry stays consistent/not constantly changing
-higher financial support
-alums and others send people to the

4. Specialized Freshmen Outreach and Ministry
-most reachable group
-develops patterns for remainder of college and life
-more available time

5. Sense of Mission
-purpose outside of just attending
-evangelism, mission teams, campus impact
-clearly/constantly communicated vision

Monday, December 10, 2012

7 Things to Do at the End of the Semester

1. Evaluate
Look over the semester as a whole. What went well and what did not? How was the response to your core/most important things? How did your student leaders do and what do you need to do differently in working with them or double down on? Did you utilize your particular strengths/gifts to the max? What are some minor adjustments to be made? You only make wholesale changes, if your semester was a total disaster.

2. Write Handwritten Thank You's.
Write a personal note to every pastor whose church gave or helped you and to every individual that helped you. They don't have to be long...just personal!

3. If you have a Center or meeting place of hour own, clean out that nasty corner or room where everything got dumped. If you think it all looks great, ask someone what needs cleaning....sometimes, we get used to seeimg a mess and don't ralize how bad it is.

4. Lay Out Next Semester.
What are you doing Spring your mission trip nailed down? Will you select a new Leadership Team? When will that be and will you need any special questionnaires or forms? Do you speak regularly....what will your topics/scripture be?

5. Enourage a friend in College Ministry.
Pick out someone you know who went from salaried to raising their salary or someone just starting a ministry. Call them and ask how it is going and then listen....a lot!

6. Rest/Take your spouse our for some extra time.
If you don't know how to do this call me, you need more personal attention!

7. Study another ministry.
Look at a ministry of your denomination on another campus or get outside your regular circles and look at a non-denominational one that is totally different. Go to lunch with other campus ministers on your campus...any campus trends, new developments in the administration that might affect you?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

God Calls Collegiates to Ministry...

All of us who do College Ministry believe God calls college students to vocational ministry.....but, are you reminding them of that regularly and helping those who have acknowledged that call in their life? Some years ago a friend at IMB told me that more people in small churches sensed God's call to missions than people in large churches. Maybe that means the personal in all of that is huge.

Every semester do you somehow have it in your speaking or promotion plan to emphasize God's call to vocational ministry?

Some things that need communicating:
-What are ways people sense/hear God's call to ministry?
-What are different things God calls people to do?
-What do you do when you feel called, but don't know to what?

We all know that College Ministry is the high calling, but God does need some other folks too! When I first sensed God's call I only knew there were preachers and music ministers. Without a doubt, God was not calling me to music ministry. So, was I supposed to be a preacher? I didn't think so, but people told me it was...they had probably heard me sing.

One thing we did at Arkansas State each year was to have a panel made up of a Children's Minister, Administrator, Youth Minister, Music, Special Ministries, Counselor, Ed Minister....whatever we could find. They told what they did and we asked questions about how you felt called, etc.

There's no one way to do it, but it needs doing regularly. By the way, just heard that Lottie Moon became a Christian in college. Whoever helped her work out her calling did pretty well!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Are You Doing What Looks Right with Ministry Money?"

During the past year, I was consulting with a church about their College Ministry and heard them express concerns about about how the Locsl Baptist Campus Minister was accounting for and using money they had given for a designated purpose.

I don't know that College Minister well, but I believe him to be honest. Simply put, I think he is sloppy with his accounting and reporting. Being sloppy in your bookkeeping and reporting of money likely isn't a crime, but it can be a ministry killer....not to mention your personal reputation.

Churches and individuals need to have NO doubts that the money they give for designated purposes is not only used in the ministry, but that it is used for EXACTLY what they gave the money for.

A while back a friend told of a Church College Minister who charged his students for a retreat and never deposited any of the money; he just used it to buy groceries, etc. He said that was simpler. Again, from what I know, this man is not a thief, but if someone accused him of pocketing some of that money, he would have a hard time proving otherwise.

Keep clear records. Deposit the money and have receipts that bear out your credit card purchases. When collecting money for students' accounts for mission trips, make sure each student's account is kept separately and you can document that each parent, church, grandmother's gift and whomever paid into that student's account got where it was supposed to go. Remember, sloppy often looks dishonest!

Remember Paul's admonition, "We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.". 2 Corinthians 8:20-21

Are you doing what LOOKS right?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

One Last Thought on Collegiate Large Group Events

In previous blogs I mentioned three formats for weekly Christian events
-Large Group Worship (band and speaker)
-Fun Event with a testimony or brief Biblical message
-Interactive Bible Study

Let me throw out a fourth....for want of a better term, let's call it Variety Event.

This means something different each week, such as
-Program on sex trafficking with guest speaker
-Getting Ready for Marriage with a panel of married couples of a variety of ages
-Tough Questions of the Bible with a couple of sharp, unafraid theologians who would address some common questions, but let students ask their toughest questions
-Poverty and Hunger in the World

In these examples I have intentionally mentioned some "religious" and some not. This could be a format for reaching out in starting a new ministry or with a high emphasis on outreach to non-believers

You may say this would take a ton of planning. Yes, but that could be laid out at the beginning of these semester and not function on a "Oh my gosh, what are we going to do next week basis".

By the way, I have a bias to panels (with a GOOD moderator). It allows you to provide a variety of viewpoints and to highlight some people who have something to offer who might not be good solo communicators.

Variety Event could be a good occasional even if you regularly do one of the other formats.

Keep thinking about why you do what you do format wise and who you are trying to reach, what your purpose is and, and what other ministeries are doing. How do you meet a need that is not being met or how do you reach out to a different group of students? How do you be a better partner with ministries with which you are cooperating?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More on Collegiate Large Group Format

The format we use for our weekly large group gathering in our ministry significantly affects what we can accomplish and what students are likely to come.

As I said earlier, simply put, there are 3 formats:
-Large group worship with a band and a speaker.
-Fun event with games, skits, icebreakers and a brief student testimony or brief teaching time by the leader.
-Interactive Bible study - no music, etc.

Some would say that the Interactive Bible study is not large group. But, I know many Bible study groups that are as large as lots of Large group worship events.

Many years ago when I came to Arkansas State as the Baptist Campus Minister, we were having a weekly program made up of testimonies, skits, music and sometimes different speakers. In addition, I was told the previous BCM Director had done a Bible study on Monday night, so I thought I would do it for one year and then do away with it. The Bible study went well. Students loved the interaction and I continued it for several years.

After some years, we decided to add a weekly Freshmen night to our schedule. Something had to go. I gave the students the choice...drop the Bible study I led, drop the Variety program or combine the two. They overwhelmingly decided to combine the two. So, we had music, testimonies, some skits and I did a Bible study.

We were the only ones offering anything like it. As the different churches in town began to grow their college ministries, they added a week night large group worship with a speaker. Now, all of us who were working together were doing the same thing to reach the same students. That leads to who has the best band or who is the coolest speaker.

It raised several questions in my mind, is large group worship all students need? Does students going to 2 or 3 contemporary worship events during the week increase the likelihood they will not attach to a church with people of a variety of ages? Is there only one format?

My first thought was we did this guys get your own thing! But, my second thought was, maybe we need to change our format. Is there another format?

Shorten the story, I went to Interactive Bible study. I realized that what students had loved about our Monday night Bible studies was the interactive nature of it and since we had combined our variety event with the Bible study, I had just become more of a speaker. We kept the worship band and skits, but we had students asking questions, talking, sharing their doubts and questions. I was prepared and I spoke, but often the best thing was said by a student. Our thing/format was different. It met a need that was not being met.

Here's the point, if there is already a successful ministry, don't just do what they are doing! Students don't need to attend multiple large group worship events during the week and we sure don't need to base our ministries on who is the coolest or has the best band.

Intentionally choose your format. Students need discipleship..not just sit and listen. And, believe it or not, not all students like Cnristian bands and worship (oh my gosh, did I just say something blasphemous?)

Maybe, there are more than 3 formats!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Collegiate Large Group Weekly Meetings

Quite likely you may not have given much thought to which format your large group weekly meeting uses. You probably either continued what was being done when you arrived. Or, you started doing what you had experienced wherever you came from. There likely was not much or even any thought given to what format is needed here or will work best here.

I would even go as far as to say, it likely never occurred to you that there was more than one format.

Simply put, I think there are 3 Large Group Formats:
-Large group worship-usually a band & speaker (but it may not be a large group)
-Fun Event with a message contained.
-Bible Study Group with interaction.

Most Baptist Collegiate ministries I have seen (both campus and church) use the large group worship format (band and speaker). Many non-denominational campus ministries use the Fun event with a message format. I don't know why that distinction has developed. It partly may be related to Baptists having a large number of church students and non-denominational ministries attempt at connecting non-church students.

The "Fun Event with a Message" obviously can take many shapes. But simply put, it is some fun games or skits with ice breakers that are a significant part of the weekly time then with a brief student testimony of God's movement in their life and or a brief biblical message by a leader. Usually, these have no large group music or worship time.

It is my opinion that we should be more intentional in choosing our format. Some obvious advantages to the Fun Event format are:
-No band needed.
-Each week can look very different.
-it does not require as many skilled, committed, mature Christian student leaders to pull off.

Am I advocating the Fun Event format over the Large Group Worship Event? No; I am not. Just that most I deal with use the Worship and I am encouraginging all of us to be a little more intentional!

More on this tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

5 Things College Ministers Should ALWAYS Do!

1. Walk through the Student Center EVERY day.

2. Write personal, handwritten thank you notes to donors....nothing is as good as a handwritten note!

3. Meet individually with key leaders each week.

4. Always be looking for people from whom you can learn.

5. Do intentional Freshmen Ministry some way big or small.

Monday, November 19, 2012

What College Ministry Should Learn from the Elections

1. Tone matters! In many instances where Christians were speaking up for moral issues, our tone was not loving at best and mean/angry at worst. It's not enough to speak must be done with respect for all.

2. Be for things not just against things. Ugly Facebook posts don't draw people to our faith. If you are a college minister, you must always be conscious of what you post and tweet. You are never off duty!

3. Today's 20something generation Christians may believe homosexuality is wrong, but they are turned off to Christians who speak and act in anger toward the gay community.

4. When Christian public figures say something dumb, don't defend a dumb statement because the one who said it is a Christian. Admit it is dumb. Why should non-Christians believe our gospel when they see us defending really dumb statements. Defending dumb statements undercuts gospel truth that we speak....maybe we are crazy in everything we say is an easy conclusion.

5. Help students see and realize there are good people in both main line political parties and there are people in each party who would use and manipulate them.

6. Applaud and encourage students when they are active in the political process (even when they don't agree with you). "Render unto Caesar".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Weekly Meetings with Your Leaders

If a weekly individual meeting with your leaders is the most important thing you do to grow them and benefit your ministry, how do you use that time?

As I have said, from the beginning of my time on campus, I have asked our leaders to give me an hour a week at a set time. Some discipleship gurus have a set program of scripture/lessons they go thru with their students. I do not. I let the student drive the content of our time together.

I tell them we will meet one hour...the first half is personal. I ask lots,of questions:
-Why are you majoring in what you picked?
-Tell me about your family.
-Who are you dating? Tell me about it.
-as a believer have you ever had a crisis of faith or a major rebellion time?
-What's something you want to talk about?
-What do you do for a personal devotional time?
-Any big decisions we need to talk about?

The second half of the hour we talk about their leadership responsibility.
-What do we need to talk about from this past week?
-What did you do and how do you feel about it?
-If it went well, why do you think so?
-If it did not go well, what do we need to learn from it?
-I always remind them that it may have gone poorly, but they did a good job and was not their fault....regardless, what can we learn from it?
-What's next and what needs to be done? What do you need to do? What do you need me to do?

Closing: "How do you want to pray?". I say this every week! "You pray; me pray, both of us; stand on the desk?"

I found many have never prayed out loud with another person or feel they don't really know how to pray and this is a major point of growth and development as the semester goes along. I also ask what we want to pray about.

This hour each week shows you care about them personally. It invests in growing them. It holds them accountable to their leadership responsibility. It helps them succeed because they know what they are supposed to do and how to do it. Plus, they know they will have to come back the next week and face you.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Southern Baptists Name New Collegiate Ministry Leader

Mark Whitt, Baptist Campus Minister at Murray State University (Kentucky), has been named as the new coordinator of Baptist ministry with campus and church based college ministry. Baptist Collegiate Ministry is the largest Christian campus based college ministry on more than 800 college campuses with 353,666 students involved this past year. In addition, 258 Southern Baptist Churches have an intentional college ministry led by a staffer. Whitt will begin serving January 1, 2013 with offices located at Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville which is the SbC Agency charged with resourcing college ministry in Baptist life. Whitt has served at Murray State for the past 13 years.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The ONE Thing of the ONE Thing

I recently wrote an article about the ONE thing for a successful college ministry. To recap, I was asked by a supporter of another denomination's college ministry what I thought the one most important thing was in having a su cessful college ministry. They already have an excellent campus minister and a beautiful campus facility. My answer was "the one thing is student leadership".

In a meeting with great college ministers in another state recently, I was asked, "What's the one or main thing in developing student leaders?".

To me the One Thing in the One Thing is a set weekly meeting with each of your student leaders. Through the years we saw many of our students go into the ministry and they were ones who had been headed to Law school and Med it wasn't like they had no options or goals prior to our ministry. People would ask why we saw so many students move toward ministry. For a long time I didn't know and just said, it must be God. I will stick with that answer but add to it.

From the beginning of my years of ministry on a college campus, I told our student leaders tha I wanted to meet with them one hour each week. During the first half of that hour we would talk about personal stuff, school, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, whatever. During the second half of the hour we would talk about their leadership responsibilities, upcoming tasks, things just finished, etc.

This takes a significant amount of yourntime each week. As our ministry grew and we had additional staffers, wen divided up our leaders to do these weekly meetings. A friend of mine met with two of his leaders at a time. If I were starting again with it, I might say 30 minutes instead of an hour.

Next: More on Weekly Meetings

Monday, November 5, 2012

How Should College Ministers be Evaluated?

A College Minister friend recently expressed frustration that it seemed more and more he would be evaluated on the number of professions of faith he reported. This was not a College Minister who does not share the gospel...two of his students made professions of faith last week and it happens regularly.

Most pastors I know are not evaluated on number of professions of faith....but rather what I would describe as "over-all health of the congregation". Should College Ministers be evaluated differently? It might be argued yes because we are losing this generation to the church.

If a College Minister is to be evaluated strictly om number of professions of faith, does that mean he/she has no responsibility to reaching out to the large number of college students who have made professions of faith at a young age and then leave church while in college? The two greatest concerns I hear registered today are "20 something's leaving the church" and "the lostness of this generation". So, why would we evaluate strictly on one?

I served on a campus where a "non-denominational ministry" majored on evangelism and very proudly reported their number of, I would assume they were strongly evaluated that way. One concern of mine was, if a student told one of their staffers they were experiencing doubts about their faith, they were told they were not a Christian and should pray the prayer. They had a lot of professions of faith recorded that way.

Some church College Ministers say their prime evaluation comes out of "students Sunday involvement...worship and Bible study". A few that major on a separate college worship service where they speak seem to be evaluated on the attendance at that event.

How do you evaluate someone's ministry this side of eternity? Let me throw out some thoughts might could be made into some sort of formula:
1. Does this person obviously work hard?
2. Does this person have a specific plan about what they are trying to do?
3. Do they attempt to balance outreach to non-believers as well as discipleship for believers?
4. Are there regular on-going discipleship groups?
5. Is this ministry training leaders for service in churches in the years to come?
6. What type of students are coming out of this ministry and what are they doing now?
7. Are there a variety of students represented in the ministry? Does it look like the campus?

I will think about this some more....interested to hear some of your thoughts. What is the criteria for your e aluation?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

More Info on Universities Providing Religious Preference Lists to Campus Based Ministries

As stated in my previous blog, LSU was denied the Baptist Religious Preference list due to the privacy laws. They appealed that and the LSU attorney provided the opinion that they (BCM and other religious organizations) could receive it. This is because of the wording in the question that asks for the information.

Here is how it reads: "9. Religious preference-by indicating a religion, I understand my preference could be shared with campus groups of similar affiliation."

Some schools have taken the view that if a religious preference is given, that implies permission to provide it to those groups.

Some suggestions in having these conversations with your school officials:
1. Start the discussions on a friendly basis. Some start out mad and wonder why they don't get anywhere. Sometimes, the school official would like to give it to you, but feel they need the protection of some law or ruling.

2. Make clear that you will NEVER sell it or give it to someone not entitled to receive it!

3. In one situation where I served, the University did not collect the religious preference information, but told me it was on the SAT forms that students had completed and they gave me permission to buy them from SAT. SAT had to have the University approval before they would sell them to me. After gaining permission once, SAT continued to sell to me each year until the University began to supply the information.

AGAIN, the highest priority must be given to operating with integrity and being seen as professional in our dealings with University officials.

REMEMBER, their knowing and being able to say that other high level State Universities are providing this information is very helpful to them if they must justify their position to anyone. The University of Florida officials knowing that LSU had done it helped them decide to do it also.

ALSO, you might get turned down the first year, but don't give up! Perseverance may just pay off.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting Religious Preference Lists From State Universities"

It has long been a discussion between BCM College Ministers and school administrators about releasing religious preference lists of incoming freshmen.

The Baptist Collegiate Ministry at LSU receives the list of incoming Baptist students as a result of an attorney's opinion to the University telling them that "the statement
on the admissions form allow the release of the data to the
religious organizations."

The opinion reads like this, "The statement on the admissions form, when received back from the student, constitutes a signed and dated consent to the release of the religious preference information. If FERPA does not apply (because the student has not yet enrolled)the consent information nevertheless acts as a waiver of any potential, constitutionally-based privacy right to the religious preference information."

In other words, LSU has been told they can release the religious preference information because the student filling it out constitutes their giving permission to share it. As a result of the LSU decision, other major universities have released religious preference information. After seeing the LSU opinion, the University of Florida changed their policy.

Check with your office of Student Affairs. For detailed information, talk with Steve Masters at LSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Who Can I Ask?"

You know how sometimes the best thing that happens at a conference is you connect with someone who is doing something like you want to try? The two of you have a coke and it turns out to be the best thing at the conference! Here are some folks that do some particular things well. Maybe, you have been looking for someone to visit with in one of these areas.

Seeker Lunch Programs - Joel Bratcher, Texas A&M

Out of country Mission Trips - Bob Hall, U of Tennessee

Reaching Gamers - Raul Agular, University of South Florida

Edgy young guy doing Traditionsl Campus Ministry - John Aaron Matthew, Tennessee Tech

International Ministry - Tommy Johnson, Western Kentucky University

Senior Transition Ministry - Eddie Gilley, University of Florida/Johnny Pons, Penn State

Recruiting Staff/Raising Salaries - Darrell Cook, Virginia Tech

Recruiting Freshmen - Steve Masters, LSU

Freshmen Survival Conference - Lloyd Luncefort, Southern Mississippi University

Speaking/Preaching to Students - Daniel Berry, University of Kentucky

College Sunday School - Cody Albritton, First Baptist Lubbock

JR College/Community College Ministry - Tom McLaughlin, NW Mississippi Community College

Friday, October 26, 2012

"College Ministry Ideas from Florida"

When I am in meetings with college ministers, I Love hearing things God has used in their ministry. Here are some from the great Florida College Ministers both campus and church based).

Cover-To-Cover, read the Bible thru (out loud) outside the student center from Gen 1-Rev 22. Begin Monday 7:00 a.m.-midnight thru Friday and finish Friday night. Send a to the campus that the Bible is still relevant.

To connect with international students, we ask the Indian Student Association to teach us to plausible Cricket. Every year, they tell us we are the only group that shows interest in learning about their culture. As a result, they are excited about planning and hosting it and showing off their favorite sport.

In order to meet new people, we took a day trip to the Kennedy Space Center. We provided free transportation and made it possible for many Internarional students to get to know other students as well as open doors to talk about our ministry.

Lunch Bunch - meet every Friday at the bar/restaurant on campus. No specific agenda. Provides opportunity for people to invite friends to safe environment.

I lead a Senior Community Group each spring semester that wraps up what we have tried to pour into their lives for the last four years and key scriptural principles that will make a difference in their lives. We deal with 6 principles and also deal with what they are and will experience as they are getting ready to graduate and what will come after graduation. Their current issues always trump the planned discussion items.

We provide a community for gamers. We host a party called Overkill. We have around 300 people in our building who would never step foot in a church. We have a BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) and have food, drinks, Xbox, P93, Wii. We have had many conversations.

FSU Luau - we partner with 8-10 other campus ministries/churches to begin the fall semester with new student move-in activities. It is part of the official FSU Welcome week activities. We place the responsibility of building relationships with new students on our current students. We funnel all our conversations towards a huge luau that we throw in the student union at the end of the week. At that event all of our ministries/churches have a table to get info out to students.

Local churches need to learn to do effective freshmen ministry just like BCMs do. We have found a special freshmen ministry effort led by quality married couples to be a huge benefit. Most churches expect that the high school seniors will assimilate into their college/career group without any special attention given to them. This expectation is unrealistic and false!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"College Ministry Ideas from Pennsylvania/New Jersey"

One of the great things I get to do is being in different states with College Minister meetings. Recently, I was in Pennsylvania with the Penn/Jersey Baptist Collegiate Ministers and asked them to write down some things that had worked for them. These are from different type campuses and different size ministries.

Iron Chef competition with students

Find a missional destination/partner that you stay with year after year.

Read "When Helping Hurts"

When starting a new work on a campus that already has a spiritual community, contact the leaders of the other spiritual groups before you arrive on campus. Let them know that your goal is not to compete with them for students; ask for their help in getting to know the campus, the faculty and the administrators.

We purchase Starbucks gift cards and give them to our students with the intent that they would invite someone to coffee and spend time I. Spiritual conversation with that person. That adds value to their lives.

There are 6 or 7 Christian groups on campus and we don't always see eye to eye. We have put on "All Campus Worship Sessions" to bring about unity among fellow believers.

Senior Exit - an intentional process to help students transition from campus to community life.

Coming soon: Ideas from Florida

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"College Ministry Basics 7-10"

7. You have to keep training student leaders and you have to keep adapting to the changing abilities of a new year's leaders.

8. The student's goals for the ministry and how they see God will greatly affect the ministry.

9. The on-going effectiveness of a college ministry will be determined by it's support base and partners.

10. A specialized ministry to freshmen is the single most effective way to reach more students.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Few More Thoughts....College Ministers and Alcohol"

Of the comments I have received on my blog, "College Ministers and Alcohol" helped me know I may not have made my main points very clear.

One dear friend and former student reminded me "Jesus drank wine". Another friend said, "It's no one's business". Here was my main point.....have the conversation so that everyone is on the same page and know what the expectations and parameters are! I will leave it to theologians to discuss what Jesus drank and what that means.

As I said, I am clearly on the side of College Ministers abstaining from alcohol due to alcohol being the number one college problem....way ahead of illegal drugs. I have heard students say it is ok for me to drink because I know my college minister does or he/she said Jesus drank wine. I need some expert to tell me if wine and Bud Lite are all the same.

Second main point.....Make sure you ask all the important questions....don't assume anything. True story: recently, a man moved to a staff position at a new church and the second week was filling out some paperwork. A question on the paperwork ask if he had been married previously. He had been previously married briefly at a very young age. So, he checked yes. In dealing with different churches, he thought he had told all of them this. He had not told this church. The deacons met and he was terminated after two weeks....but, they did give him 6 months pay.

In my previous blog, I only mentioned church College Ministers....what about campus based BCM type folks? In all honesty, I have only known one BCM type who did drink an occasional wine. I think that State Conventions hiring College Ministers tend to ask more intentional questions and be much more specific about expectations than churches do. There would be different opinions about which is better.

One person asked if I expected College Ministers to be held to a higher standard. Simply put...YES!

Friday, October 5, 2012

College Ministers and Alcohol.....My Most Commented On Blog Ever

If you perform or attend many weddings and the reception, you know the general feeling about the use of alcohol has changed among many Baptists. One pastor friend says he simply does not attend the wedding reception of those weddings he performs to avoid everyone's discomfort.

Through the years it has been my priviledge to work with several churches in calling a College Minister and I currently serve on a College Minister Search Committee at my church. For many years the assumption has been that if you were a Baptist in the ministry, you did not drink. This has become a point of much discussion these days in college ministry circles.

One church in their search for a college minister were talking with a person just graduating from seminary. They were very high on him and ready to invite him to come for a visit. At that point, someone noticed that he had worked at a restaurant that served alcohol. When asked about it, he said yes he served it, but that he did not drink himself. The committee decided to not continue their conversations with him. Another church had a prospective person for a visit and were very pleased and ready to invite them to come back in view of a call, when the prospective staffer indicated they would sometimes drink wine with meals. The pastor felt with all of the problems with college students and alcohol, this would not work and they terminated the process.

Two more examples: a church invited a prospective college minister for an informal visit after running references,and representatives from the church visiting the prospect at the church where he was currently serving. When being shown around at the church, he asked the staffer doing the tour....."What is the church policy about alcohol? I don't drink any hard stuff, but I do drink a little wine and beer". This had not come up in any of the other extensive conversations. At another church a college minister was seen drinking alcohol at a very public event. Some in the church felt he should be terminated immediately. Other church leaders said, "How do we terminate him for violating a policy we have never expressed"?

I am from the school that says that alcohol is such a problem on college campuses that it is totally inappropriate for a college minister to use alcohol. Most campus rapes involve alcohol and one VP of Student Affairs in expressing her consternation over their problems with alcohol said, "All of the money we have spent on alcohol education has been wasted". She was looking for more help in that area.

So, what's my point? Don't assume anything. There are many different feelings and practices these days about alcohol and the ministry. Ask the questions that need to be asked and make sure everyone is on the same page about what the practice and expectations are. Don't find yourself in the position of enforcing a "policy" that has never been expressed or discussed.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"College Ministry Basics #5 & #6

5. Students must feel it is THEIR ministry to invest significantly of their time and energy in the ministry.

Do they feel what they say and do matters? Have they bought in or are they reluctantly just going along with you? The more students own it, the more they will invite their friends. You are still the captain of the ship, but a captain without a crew is in trouble.

6. Students must feel accepted and cared about individually in order to continue to attend.

A campus ministry can spend a pile of money on programs and enlistment, but if students develop no significant relationships, they likely will not continue their involvement. We must do all we can to develop small caring groups....both organized and informal.

Friday, September 21, 2012

College Ministry Basics # 3 & # 4

3. Students have to get their Felt Needs met to continue to come.

You may have a great vision of what God has called you to do...send mission teams to China, Haiti, etc. But, if students do not feel you are meeting some of their immediate needs, then forget it. Are you meeting their needs? Are you speaking to the issues with which they are wrestling now? Again, it involves listening, looking and learning about your campus.

4. What the campus as a whole thinks of your ministry will affect the response to your ministry.

In other words, what do you look like to the campus as a whole? What would the average student on your campus say about your ministry? What the campus thinks about your ministry may not be your fault, but you will benefit or suffer from it. What the administration thinks about your ministry will affect your opportunities and how much they are willing to work with you.....and what doors they open and CLOSE to you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

10 Basics of College Ministry, #2

2. Each campus is unique and that must be factored into what is done there and how it is done.

Unfortunately, you cannot simply take the model of the best college ministry you know and drop it onto another campus. Each campus has it's own schedule of which nights work best, the type of students who attend there and the over-all culture. The Princeton Baptist Campus Minister says 2 Night retreats don't work well there cause students don't want to be away from their studies that long. Some campuses students treat Friday classes as optional.

Listen to your students. Study your campus. Try things and then tweak them. Your ministry must be tailor made for your campus!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

10 Basics of College Ministry #1, The College Minister

1. The character, actions, and style of the campus minister will greatly affect the type of students that are drawn to the ministry.

To some degree, for students to come to your ministry they must buy into you. For individuals and churches to support your ministry, they must buy into you. Everybody has a type student that responds to them best. How do you accentuate that and keep that from being a limiting factor?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Should Campus Ministries Participate in Homecoming Elections, Etc?"

Should campus ministries participate in campus activities such as running Homecoming Court nominees, etc? For several years, my answer was a quick no...absolutely no! That's not what we are here to do.

After some years of our leaders asking that we submit a nominee for the Homecomomg Court, I said, OK, but if we do, let's support them and work for it. They nominated one of our outstanding young women and began to work on her behalf. After a vote of the student body on a campus of 12,000 at that time, she was selected as one of the Homecoming Maids. She was the first representative of a religious group to be selected. I thought, ok end of story. The next week a woman from the Student Affairs office called to ask us to have a table at a pre-orientation session for outstanding scholars. We had never been invited before. She said," I did not realize until the Homecoming elections how large your campus ministry was.". It was the first of many doors that opened to us as a result of that. We continued to run candidates and often, but not always, had them selected. We were invited to have displays at recruiting events where the Greeks had only been invited before.

A very "non-spiritual activity" opened the door for greater ministry on the campus. It helped with alumni support as they would come to Homecoming and hear our representative announced at half time of the game.

A third benefit I believe was that students felt they did not have to join other organizations on campus to participate in fun Campus events like Homecoming. I realized that many solid Christian students were drawn away from their faith because of their desire to be active on campus.....they had done it in high school and wanted that to be part of their college career.

A negative result was that for some it damaged our relationship to Greek organizations because they now felt we were treading in their territory. Plus, we got many other invitations to participate in lots of other events that we had to make choices about and usually said no.

Should Campus Ministries participate in Homecoming elections, etc? I think it is a campus to campus decision, but one that should be considered...not automatically ignored. It might. E more spiritual than you think!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"What's the Main Difference in Veteran Campus Ministers and Newer Ones?

Over the last year it has been my privilege to see lots of young and older campus ministers in action. Everywhere I have been and all the ministries I have seen are doing well. But, it is an obvious question to ask, what's the main difference in the newer, younger college ministers and the older longtime vets?

The simple answer is the little details. The older veterans tend tend to do the little details. It's the little things that make a difference over time, but are not immediately evident. The big things are obvious, but it is the little things that take time and experience to be aware of and see the value.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"What's THE ONE Thing for a Successful College Ministry?"

I was having lunch yesterday with a college minister from another church affiliation. The group included his intern and a supporter out of the church that is the main support of the ministry. The college minister is sharp and they have just built a beautiful new Center on the campus.

The key supporter asked, "What is the one most important thing to make a college ministry successful?". I think that is an easy is student leadership! Students that not only come, but own it as their own and model to younger students what it means to walk with Christ. They invite and bring friends. Nothing substitutes for strong student leadership.

One other interesting note from that friend from another denomination said, "It seems to me that a lot of Baptist church college ministries compete against their own campus ministry.". ,

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"My Most Read Blog?"

Since I blog primarily to people who do college ministry, I don't expect a huge following. After all, it is in the running for being the most demanding and lowest paying of all the different ministry callings. So, our numbers stay low and seem to be getting lower.

But, I wondered, what has been my most read guess was "20 Principles of College Ministry" or "Common Characteristics of Large College Ministries".....or, "Top 7 Reasons Students Attended the First Time".

Second most read blog was "Top 7 Reasons...". The most read by almost double was "10 Things the Parents of a College Freshman Should Know". way...why? Well one state-wide Baptist Collegiate Ministry did send a letter to freshman parents and listed a link, but who really thought they would go to it?

What does this mean? Parents are scared...parents want to help...we have helicopter parents, maybe. But, one thing it means parents want help and parents could be our best allies. College Ministers need to be connecting with parents. A summer outreach event could be doing parent seminars in churches. Steve Masters at LSU sends a parent questionnaire to freshmen parents....then contacts the student AFTER getting the parent questionaire back.

By the way, the best advocates I have seen for college ministry budgets are parents.

Monday, September 3, 2012

"What To Do Week Three"

You have just survived the first two weeks and may have had an event every night...your tongue is hanging out. It's easy to forget one thing that needs to be done this week.

Look back over your Info Cards, sign-in lists, or whatever way you got names of students who came to one of your first events such as Survival, first worship, welcome cookout, etc. Who has NOT been back? They came for some reason....the fact they have not been back may have nothing to do with their interest. They may have been overwhelmed with their choices or just stll figuring out what they can do or from a little church and your crowd scared them.

Make a list of the "one-timers" and make one more contact with them!,

"A Financial Tip for Young College Ministers"

When you are starting out in college ministry, you often aren't making much. You may have young children and retirement is not one of your thoughts and sure not priority in your thinking. So, you put little or maybe even nothing into your retirement fund.

Here's one financial principal to remember, the money you put in early on is that which is there longest and therefore earns the most. Even when you can't do something!

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, shares some stunning figures of how much more a retiree who put money into his retirement fund from 20 to 30 has at retirement over one who put in 30 to retirement.

Always be putting something into your retirement fund!

Monday, August 27, 2012

"How Many Baptist Church College Ministers?"

For different reasons, the question is often asked, "How many Baptist churches have full time college ministers?". The official Baptist figure turned in by Baptist churches is 270. But, what we find is many of those are full time staff members who have some college ministry responsibility, which may be as little as 10% of total job.

In conversations with those who do college ministry for State Conventions, here are the figures we have for "Full time church college minister or the majority of their responsibility" that we know of. As one said, "It's a moving figure that changes daily."
Arkansas 11
Alabama 21
Texas 43
Georgia 20
Kentucky 5
Florida 7
Mississippi 5
Oklahoma 25
Tennessee 15
South Carolina 6

Total 158

Obviously, there are some in some states not listed. If you know of totals in additional states, we would love to hear them.

"New Welcome Week Ideas"

Lots of college ministries have traditional events or multiple outreach/welcome events. But, sometimes it is time for something different. Here are some from last week.

University of Kentucky BCM does "Death by Chocolate". One of their local churches provides all sorts of chocolate treats and over 400 UK students came thru to check it out and there are displays spread all around with info about different ministries of the BCM and upperclassmen are giving in for and getting name and contact info plugged into laptops.

Southern Mississippi BSU does a traditional Survival event for freshmen/transfers, but they wind it up on Sunday by dividing the different family groups up into four different churches on Sunday where the church feeds them a meal after worship.

Arkansas State invited four churches to join them in a Progressive Dinner for new International students. Seventy-five toured four chutes for great food and met potential host families.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"Lord, Help Me Be More Like Calvin Miller!"

For some great reason, I was silly enough to invite the famous Calvin Miller to speak on my campus. He came and was wonderful to our students and to me. He came back different times to speak for our Retreat and our kick-off banquet for our new Baptist Student Center.

He loved on our ASU students at seminary. He threw Kevin and Shannon Inman an engagement party at his house. When they told him they were earning extra money by doing Valet (parking) on the weekend, he looked very confused. He thought they said they were earning extra money doing "Ballet" on weekends....then he did that wonderful laugh of his when he realized what they had said.

Hen bought a sporty camaro and he said the Lord took care of that vanity with a hail storm.

Thanks be to God for Calvin Miller who was brilliant and yet just loved people and spoke in a way everyone could understand. Lord, help me be more like Calvin Miller!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"7 Top Reasons College Students Attended a Ministry the First Time"

These are the results of a survey done by Kentucky College Ministers of 443 students in 5 states. The percentages total more than 100% because the students could list more than one choice.

7. Website 10%

6. Mail. 12%

5. Social Media 17%

4. Advertising. 34%

3. Food 35%

2. An Appealing Event 46%

1. Someone Invited Me 77%

As a result of this survey, some would discount the value of those with a lower percentage, but I believe they are often a factor in the personal invitation being so readily received. It is also easier to invite someone to an appealing event.

Monday, August 13, 2012

"20 Principles and Wise sayings of College Ministry"

1. It takes 3 years for a ministry to become yours in philosophy and organization.

2. A meeting space will only fill to 80% capacity on a regular basis. The converse is true that too many empty seats gives a negative feeling.

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

4. A college ministry almost always reflects the strengths and weaknesses of it's leader.

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

6. What students you reach determines what students you can and cannot reach.

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

8. Students will only hear 4 announcements at most.

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

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

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

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

13. Large special/fun events can be used to attract students to your ministry and to develop campus awareness.

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

15. To maintain upper-class involvement, there must be opportunities and responsibilities not available to them in earlier years.

16. Campus-wide publicity/promotion not only tells about an event or the ministry in general, but the quality of the promotion gives a message about the quality of the ministry.

17. If multiple staff members know and work with all the same students, you are nit using your staff to full advantage.

18. The big attracts; the small keeps (Dave Jobe).

19. Never let a student come through one of your events without getting a name and contact information.

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

Arliss Dickerson

Friday, August 3, 2012

"You Are the Face of Your Ministry"

Whether you like it or not, you are the face of your ministry. People identify with people. All great movements have had a face.

Questions to consider:

1. Will parents say, "I want my son or daughter to be like you?". That's what they
are saying when they send students to you. Or at least, they believe you will
be a plus in their son or daughter's life.

2. Will financial supporters want to give to to your ministry when they see who you

3. Will school officials work with you and trust you when they see who you are?

One college minister tells of receiving significant financial gifts any time his
Picture appeared in the paper. Over time he has become the face of the ministry. What are you doing or what should you be doing to be a better face to your ministry. One of the truths of college ministry is One of the grous you will attract is people just like you. Scary huh?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Common Characteristics of Large College Ministries"/

I just read some interesting articles by Tim Casteel listing the 8 largest Cru (Campus Cruade Ministries) and stats from his interviews with their leaders of some of them. Some of the campuses were University of Florida, Cal Poly and Montana State. There seemed to be six common characteristics that ran through the story of each.

1. Large staff 6-12
2. Long Term leader/Director
3. Strong Student leaders given much responsibility
4. Strong/intentional small group ministry
5. They are THE ministry on campus (no other nearly as large)

As one who travels in Batist Collegiate Ministry circles, I have given some thought to our larger ministries out of the 800 plus BCM/BSU ministries. Some of these would be LSU, Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, North Georgia and others. I have NOT interviewed the directors as Tim Casteel did the Cru Directors, but from my observations there are six commonalities that run through our larger ministries.

1. Long term Director
2. Strong tradition/long term presence
3. Excellent or large facilities
4. Specific freshmen ministry
5. Campus setting/type student
6. Usually THE ministry on campus

As you see, there are common characteristics between the two. All of this assumes and realizes none of this happens apart from the work of the Lord in all of it. My thanks to Tim Casteel and others who would help us understand how to reach more students for Christ.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Simple College Freshman Guide to Good Grades"

Wouldn't it be great if there were one simple and easy way to make or improve fres
Hman year grades. There is.

The simplest thing a freshman can do to make good grades.....go to class! Through the years almost all freshmen who have come to me with grade problems were skipping classes. Many professors will totally lay it out in front of the student, if they are there. One professor friend did a study of all the freshmen in the Biology classes. Grades were almost exactly tied to the number of cuts.

Some professors have told me that if a student has a borderline grade....particularly the D and F borderline, they take into consideration whether they have been there all the time. A Math Professor told me that he will always bump them up a few points to get over the hump if......they have been there. He said the number of absences tells him, if they care or not.

There is a secret for better grades for freshmen....go to class....even at 8:00 a.m.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"How to Make it in College: 6 Tips for College Freshmen"

1. It's ok to change your major or not have one.
-Freshmen year is meant to be a time of adjusting and learning about yourself.
-On average college students change majors 3 to 4 times.
-Don't let the pressure of not having a major rush you into a wrong decision.
-It is best to take basics at the start.

2. Your first 3 weeks set the pattern.
-What you do the first 3 weeks often set the pattern for your whole college life.
-Get into a regular pattern of classes, study, recreation and rest. Balance
is important.
-College infirmaries are packed at the 6 week mark with those who have not eaten
and rested right.
-Many fall behind during the first couple of weeks by not taking it seriously
and never recover class wise.
-Going to class is the easiest thing you can do to pass a class. The more you cut, the more likely you are to fail the class.

3. Choose friends by your priorities...not your priorities by your new friends.
-Everyone wants and needs new friends.
-In the rush to make friends freshmen often get with the first people they meet
and without thought begin to engage in whatever activities the new friends do.
-Decide what is important to you (grades, faith, etc) and find/choose friends
that share those priorities.

4. Emotionally go to college.
-Many freshmen do not have a good experience because they are not there
-Don't just hang around your old high school or plan your schedule around it.
-There is more to being a college student than taking classes. Decide to be
apart of it.

5. Become part of a group.
-Studies and surveys indicate the happiest and most successful students are part
Of a campus group that shares their goals and priorities.
-If you are a Christian, find and connect to a Christian group on your campus
at the start....don't wait. They will help you get started right.
-On more than 800 campuses there is a Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM, BSM, BSU) that
wants to help you have the best possible college experience. And, it's not just for Baptists.

6. If joining a fraternity or sorority is a possibility for you, consider holding off a semester, waiting for open bids or joining next year.
-This gives time to get adjusted to college.
-It allows you to have greater awareness of which groups you might best fit.
-Ask an upperclassman who is Greek why they joined and why it is a plus for them.
-Ask an upperclassman who is not Greek why they are not.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"5 Ideas for College Freshmen Who Will be Commuters"

There are some pluses to being a commuter college student....especially if it involves a free room at home. There are two types of commuter, the one who lives at home and the one who lives in an apartment away from campus. The number one problem that both can face is becoming or feeling isolated from campus and college life. The reason national studies show that dorm students tend to make better grades has nothing to do with the dorm itself. It is about feeling connected and functioning as a college student. It is easier for a dorm student to go to the library or a study group. The commuter must make some intentional decisions that promote "feeling and acting like a college student.

1. Be intentional about meeting some people and making some new friends that share the same priorities and commitments. Don't just hang out with some old high school friends.

2. If a student is living at home, it is important to remember that college life functions on a different schedule. There are programs, religious activities and intramurals that take place from dinner time to late at night. Don't let supper time at home prevent college life and experiences from happening.

3. Whether a commuter lives at home or in an apartment or at home, eating some meals on campus is a plus and can promote new friendships and more college connection. Some buy a meal ticket and many campuses have a plan where an amount of money can be deposited and used whenever in the different campus eating facilities. Besides lots of apartment students don't eat so well when they do all their own food!

4. Make plans to attend the Back-To-School or Fall Reetreat of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry or one of the local college churches. It offers great new friends, adult mentors, spiritual challenge and a ton of fun. Even if a student works on weekends, asking off now could make the difference.

5. The first 3 weeks of college often sets the pattern of the rest of a student's college career. Don't believe those that say don't worry about going to class or anything that first week. Many have derailed their college career at the very beginning.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"10 Things Parents of a College Freshman Need to Know"

1. College is usually harder than high school and your son or daughter may study as hard or harder, but not make as good of grades as high school.

2. The friends and habits a student develops during the first 3 weeks often determine their WHOLE college career. Make sure they understand the importance of starting right with a clear set of priorities and doing the first three weeks the way they plan to do college. As a a part of that, if they do not connect to a Christian campus ministry or church during the first month, they likely will not.

3. 7 out of 10 high school seniors active in church have no spiritual connections while in college. If this is priority in your family, discuss how to make it a part of the first 3 weeks.

4. Parents cannot see or receive their son or daughter's grades without a special signed form you can get from the Registrar's Office. This is part of federal privacy laws.

5. Students who live in dorms tend to make better grades national studies show.
-Its all about being connected to college life and feeling like a student.

6. Students who are active in campus organizations are more likely to stay in school and graduate.
-Again, it is about being connected and feeling connected.

7. National studies show students tend to marry someone they date! Really!!

8. You should know where your son or daughter lives at school and how to contact them there....or how someone else could contact them (dorm or apartment and room number...not just cell).

9. The average is for students to change their major 3 to 4 times (that is why it is best to take required basics the first semester or two).

10. Psychologists say the two greatest times of change in a person's life are birth to age one and high school graduation to Christmas. That is why it is so important to stay connected.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Church and Campus Ministries working Together"

Gus Hernandez JR has an excellent article on church and campus ministries working together. One practical element to this that many seem to miss is that a strong campus ministry benefits the church even more.

Some churches cooperate in providing some money and being supportive in a visual way by attending events. But, they schedule similar events to the campus ministry or tie students up so much they must choose one or the other. If a church is partnering with the campus ministry, they need to ask, "How does this event or emphasis affect the campus ministry?". Many are cooperative but then do things that harm the campus ministry....cooperation means considering how my actions help, hurt or affect the other. The campus ministry also must ask that question. But, each church must also realize that campus ministries are trying to benefit more than just one church! That makes their decisions tougher.

The stronger a campus ministry is...the more it can help a cooperating church.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"What Do You Want to Teach Your Students?"

Do you have an intentional list of things you want to teach your students?

Roger and Rose Bear at Indiana State want to teach students God's heart for the poor. With permission, I want to quote a story from their newsletter (named Please Feed the Bears)... "We've always led our students to give to hunger relief. We tell them that giving for missions and for hunger relief is not a matter of whether or not they can, but of whether or not they will. We do a worksheet to help them see how much they spend in a year on 'recreational eating' and entertainment. We give them a handout full of suggestions on how to earn money. And then I say, 'At the very least, you can promise God that you will give all they money you find in the next year...under couch cushions, on the sidewalk, in the pocket of your jacket, etc."

"The first year I started keeping track of found money, I had over $24. Then this year during finals week I was walking past Lincoln Quad and saw some trash bags that were thin enough to see perfectly good food inside (packages of ramen noodles, boxes of pop tarts, etc.). I took the bags back to the BCM and found ...trash...and lots of good packaged food....and a 2011 planner with a hundred dollar bill inside!!! Do I have any trouble believing that the disciples pulled a coin out of the mouth of a fish? Not a bit--I pulled a hundred dollars out of the trash from Lincoln Quad! So when I send in our hunger offering to Baptist Global Response this month, it will be a hundred dollars more. God enables us to do what He commands us to do."

Great story. What are some things you want to intentionally teach your students about this fall? Make a list...check it twice. Is it hunger, God's heart for the nations, sexual purity, personal discipline, godly relationships, God's call to vocational ministry???

Roger and Rose Bear are some of those who raise their own salaries to represent the Lord and Southern Baptists to the campus where God has called them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"More Thoughts on the Rainmaker College Minister"

The generally accepted definition of a Rainmaker College Minister is someone who instantly has a huge response to their ministry wherever they go. The generally accepted view is this person is a gifted speaker with a lot of personal charisma.

In thinking about all the great/successful college ministers I know, I would only describe one as a rainmaker. He has served on 3 campuses as BCM Director. One was a small regional 4 year school and the other two have been nationally known major university campuses. At each place the ministry almost instantly boomed.

Here's the kicker.....he is not a speaker, does not dress cool and has never had gel in his hair! What he does do is work exceptionally hard. He is always looking for new ways to improve his ministry and he is continually asking students to do things and giving them opportunities to serve. He is humble and at the drop of a hat will tell other campus ministers all his "secrets". Some think he is brash, but rather it just is a desire to serve as best he can and he really does not care how he appears to others.

Is he the exception to what a Rainmsker looks like or do we have the wrong picture of how God makes/creates and uses Rainmakers for college ministry?

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Re-visiting the 6 Types of College Ministers"

As the start of the fall semester begins to be a looming presence, it might be time to think again about which type of college minister you naturally are. Or, what type you saw your college minister be....and so, that is what you have tried to be.

1. The Rainmaker - instantly draws a crowd, either by speaking skills/personality or by presenting a large, challenging vision.

2. The Pastor - operates as "Brother so-in-so" and is very ministerial in appearance, action and attitude.

3. The Cool Dude or Best Friend - tends to be very trendy and operates with lots of buddy relationships and hanging out.

4. The Administrator - operates thru organization and key student leaders.

5. The Counselor - spends a large amount of time in one to one developmental or crisis counseling relationships. Often, he/she is a magnet to troubled students.

6. The Hybrid - intentionally works at combining his/her natural style with one of the others to meet a specific need or an attempt at greater ministry balance.

Now, before the school year begins, which are you? And is it time to move to being a hybrid? Which one of these styles needs to become more a part of who you are to strengthen your ministry? Continue to play to your strength, but add another dimension.

Or, it might be to admit that you have been trying to be one of these styles and it is not who you are. Maybe, you are trying to copy your mentor or to be another version of whatever the cool ministry is on campus. Maybe, it is time to admit which style is honestly who you are and let God use your uniqueness.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"5 July Do's for College Ministers"

1. Make a list of upper-class students who disappeared from your ministry following
Spring Break and make a positive contact with them.

2. Lay out all the scripture and topics for your large group speaking for the fall

3. Send out a feedback sheet to 10 students.
Pick 5 students very connected to you and your ministry and pick 5 who come, but
arenot core and may not be fans of you personally. Put just 3 to 5 questions
And a return envelope. Ask what were strengths of the ministry. What were
Weaknesses and what are some new or different things that need doing. Make
sure they know it is anonymous and send a stamped return envelope.

4. Enlist a Prayer Team to pray for the first 3 weeks of school. Send them a weekly
request each week till school starts.

5. Double check your Leadership Team.
Send them reminders about their commitments, responsibilities, and required dates
for training, ministry, etc. Make sure they are still in and ready to serve. If
not, you have time to make alternate plans.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"Changes in College Ministry and Drinking the Cool-Ade"

It is no secret this is a time of change and flux in college ministry. A dear friend who formerly worked in campus based college ministry and is now pointed toward church planting, told other friends, "Campus based ministry is a thing of the past". Those he told that to said, "He drank the cool-Ade".

Simply put, they are referring to the idea being advanced by some now that the ONLY way to go is planting a church on college campuses. First, some facts to consider, there are 819 campus based Southern Baptist College ministries where 358,000 students attended this last year. There are 45 Southern Baptist campus church plants. I know of no figures on how many students attended.

Some situations call for a collegiate church plant and others call for campus based ministry. This past fall I was privileged to visit with one of the very successful pastors of a college church plant. They have 600 students total in their two Sunday services. Some have pointed to this as an example of "college church plants are the better way to go.". In visiting with me, he told of his 8 or 9 full time staff members. I don't know of a single campus based Southern Baptist ministry that would have that many staff members. There are a few that have 4 or 5...while most have one. We aren't comparing apples to apples.

Simply put, let's don't be arguing that a ministry that is on 819 campuses needs to be shut down because we have seen a few places that something else is really working well. To make that argument, you have to drink the Cool-Ade!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

358,517 College Students!!

358,517 college students attended campus Batista Collegiate Ministry events this year.

69,535 were actively involved (leadership, weekly attendance, etc)

819 campuses had a Baptist Collegiate Ministry.

430 people served as full-time Baptist Collegiate Ministry leaders.

258 served as part-time Baptist Collegiate Ministry leaders.

269 churches report they have a full time college minister.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Campus Minister Code of Ethics"

It has been with interest I have read the new "Pastor's Code of Ethics" just signed and promoted by some prominent pastors such as Rick Warren. It reminded me of some conversations in college ministry where we discussed an individual or ministry that we felt was acting unethically.

Yet, in my 40 plus years in college ministry, I can remember no seminar, class or informative discussion of what was proper college ministry ethics. It occurred to me that usually when someone in college ministry was accused of unethical behavior, it was someone young and inexperienced. How were they to know what was considered ethical behavior other than instinct? Here is my first thought at a code of ethics in campus ministry. I welcome and invite other thoughts, suggestions and corrections.

As A Campus Minister, I Will Strive:

1. To serve for God's best for each student and not how they may best serve my ministry or promote my ministry goals.

2. To strive for balance and care for my spouse and children while doing ministry.

3. To be fair and honest in dealing with other campus ministries.

4. To not sell or advocate the sale of products to students for my personal gain.

5. To avoid the reality and appearance of inappropriate male/female relationships.

6. To operate at the highest standards of accountability and openess in terms of finances provided to the ministry.

Arliss Dickerson
Lifeway Collegiate Ministry Contract Worker

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Large Group Worship and Personal Discipleship"

A friend shared a story yesterday about a 40 year old active in church who said she was doubting her salvation. After visiting with her, he told her he felt what she needed was someone to disciple her. So, he connected her with a very mature Christian woman who visited with her and gave her some scripture to look up. The first lady came back so excited. She said, "This is the first time I have ever looked up a Bible verse."

Many of us would say, "How do you be a Christian and active in church and NEVER have look up a scripture?". But, I think we might be surprised if we knew many people's honest answer. Yesterday I raised the question, Is the growth of large group worship events among students and the lack of personal discipleship of students related?

Almost anytime I hear someone say they want to start a collegiate ministry or increase what they are doing in reaching out to university students, the next thing usually mentioned is a large group worship event or an additional large group event. Obviously, there is a need for group worship. Obviously, such an event can be a great entry point. But, my fear is we are letting that become the all in all. In the past when I spoke in a weekly collegiate worship event, I would not let the tech team put the scripture on the screen. You can't look it up or underline it on the screen.

Dave Jobe, formerly a Baptist Campus Minister in Texas, was the father of the Freshmen Ministry movement among Baptists. Dave always said, "The big attracts; the small keeps". Lots of truths there.....but one is we need both the big and the small group discipleship as well as one to one mentoring.

How many students in your ministry have never looked up a Bible verse?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Some Words About Linda Osborne"

Linda Osborne resigned Monday as Southern Baptist's leader of Collegiate Ministry. She did it simply because that was what was best for her kids.

I first met Linda in the Little Rock airport when she came to interivew for the position as Associate BSU Director at Arkansas State. I was immediately struck by two things...her wonderful enthusiastic personality that made you feel like best friends immediately....and the fact that she walked just a little funny. I later learned she walked just a little funny because she had bought a new dress to come interview and the shoes that matched it were several sizes too big and stuffed with paper to make them fit. I still laugh at the advice she was given about taking the ASU Associate position..."If you take that job, you will never be heard from again.". Obviously, that person was not a prophet!

Very quickly, while she served as Associate at ASU, I learned that she would shun tasks to talk to students as long as they needed and wanted to talk. THEN, she would go home and stay up till all hours to get whatever tasks and paperwork done that needed to be done. She ran our Freshmen Ministry and simply put, it was the largest we ever had.

From ASU she went to Florida State as BCM Director and on to Louisiana, Monroe and then Louisiana Tech as Director. Everywhere she went the program was large and many students came out of it who serve in ministry today.

Serving as the head of Collegiate Ministry for Southern Baptists is hard. We are the largest collegiate ministry in America...but lots of people in Baptist leadership roles don't seem to know it. So, it is always about trying to get doors and opportunities and funding opened to us. Linda's charm, enthusiasm and best friend personality opened a ton of new doors and gently rattled some others. We are way ahead of where we were because of her.

I was with her in a meeting of crusty Collegiate Ministry leaders where Linda had to deliver some tough news to folks who did not have to do what she was asking. She laid it out straight and did it with such charm and grace that everyone there, whether they agreed or not, thought it was a reasonable request. I told her after the meeting that she had a gift.

Everyone that knows her is her best friend...really! The Winona Mississippi schools just got a gift from the Lord and a new "Best Friend!" ...."all my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of noble character." Ruth 3:11b

Monday, June 25, 2012

"What Does a Baptist Believe?" by Matthew B. Gage

Students and others have continually asked for a brief statement of what Baptists believe. I just discovered this and it is NOT original with me and I have no idea who Matthew Gage is. It uses the acrostic Baptists.

Biblical Authority, 2 Timothy 3:16-17; I Peter 1:23-25

Autonomy of the Local Church, Revelation 1:11,20

Priesthood of the Believer, I Timothy 2:5; I Peter 2:5,9

Two Ordinances (Baptism/Lord's Supper) Acts 8:36-37; I Corinthians 11:23-31

Individual Soul Liberty, Matthew 16:27; 2 Peter 3:9

Separation of Church and State, Acts 5:29; Romans 13

Two Officers (Pastor/Deacon) I Timothy 3:2-13

Salvation by Grace Through Faith, John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Most Common Misconception About College Ministry...Some Thoughts"

The most common mis-conception about college ministry I hear voiced have to be young to do it. Part of where this comes from, I think, is the idea that college ministry is all about hanging with students till all hours and playing video games. One person even expressed that a college ministry started down hill when the person in charge got married and couldn't stay out till all hours. In my years of hiring young Interns and Assistants one of my first instructions to them was that they would have to choose between being students'buddy and being respected by them. And, my warning was, don't ever settle for being their buddy! One person recently expressed this "you got to be young" idea to me and I responded that most of the really successful college ministers I know are over 50. Anyone any age can be a plus in ministry to college students. So, why can age be not just a detriment....but a plus? First, the experienced college minister brings a life perspective that only comes with having lived through some things. This is a huge factor in mentoring. You have already been there, did it and weren't too impressed with the tee shirt. Part of a good college ministry is helping students to learn to think like an adult and to learn to operate in an adult world. That works best when someone has already done it. Pretty much all the successful and particularly large college ministries have many adult volunteers investing in it. It takes some experience and maturity to realize this, recruit and invest in these volunteers. As I got older in college ministry, the more I realized students were trusting me more to talk about the deepest issues of their lives. I didn't as much know who kissed who last night....but I did know when they wanted to talk about what is commitment and what should I consider as we talk about the M word. More thoughts...but I promised only a few. Experience brings something that coolness by itself does not!

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Fund Raising with Collegiate Ministry Alumni"

If your school is a super "loyalty school" (usually means you have good football or basketball), alums are that much more likely to remain connected and want to give. But, you can be in the country's least known and loved school and still have alums who know and realize how much God used your ministry to grow them. You may say, "but, we have no alumni mailing list". So, that means you get to start it. Someone has to start it. Lots of college ministers say no one has ever kept one at their ministry, so they don't. Start one today. Start with the names and addresses of those you know. Ask them who they know. If you have old scrapbooks, look at pictures and names...use Facebook to find where they are today. Send out a newsletter with news about alums. Share a feature on where some alum is now and what they are doing. Tell a little about what is going on right now in the ministry. Don't beg or be pushy! But, you can do a small column of needs of various prices. Some people like to give certain things or wish the ministry had that when they were there. Have a thanks column where you list all the individuals who gave this past amounts...just names. Ask for news for the next alumni newsletter. Have a form they can fill out and mail back. Always, ALWAYS, include an addressed return envelope. That encourages and makes it easy to respond with news or money or both. In our doing this at Arkansas State, we would receive these envelopes all through the year. I believe people stuck them back and they served as a reminder for them to give at some time more possible for them. Remember, some people get end of the calendar year or end of the fiscal year bonuses. If you are not maintaining or developing an alumni list and connection, are you doing your job?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"3 Reasons College Ministers Need to Work with Alums -#3"

In these days of declining funds/budgets, alums can be a huge factor! They know the benefits of your ministry. Some factors in their giving are: 1. Their know specifics of what is happening and the needs. 2. They realize your interest in them is not just for fund raising. 3. They understand they don't have to give a large amount for it to help. Early on in my ministry alums would frequently say, "I wish I could help, but I can't give enough to really help". More info to come on alums helping with your budget.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"3 Reasons College Ministers Need to Work with Alums - #2"

Right now we are seeing more cuts in college ministry than I have seen in my 40 years in Baptist collegiate ministry. There are several reasons for this, but the two simplest and most obvious reasons are declining gifts to Christian causes and shift in resources by NAMB to church planting. Where do alums come into all this? In visiting with one Baptist exec who was making some cuts in collegiate ministry, I suggested an alternative and he said he would get too much flak if he did that. Cutting college ministry draws less flak. Pastors fuss if cuts affect services to their churches, etc. Alums need to be aware of how important their voice for college ministry is in their local church budget and in decisions made by state and national agencies and boards. Money for college ministry has been added, saved, or increased because of knowledgeable individuals speaking up. Keeping connection with alums and their knowing what is happening is vital in these days of cuts. As tough choices are made, it is vital that people that know the value of college ministry realize their voice can make a huge difference. Let's work for strategic decisions not just flak-less decisions!

Monday, June 11, 2012

"3 Reasons College Ministers Need to Work with Alums - #1"

First, College Ministers need to work with alums because you can help be their bridge to continuous involvement with and commitment to the church. Alums have often called me to ask questions as they worked with the decision of what church to join.

But, more often, alums have called when they were in a situation of controversy within their church. It may be they are just members deciding how to deal with it and sometimes they have been on a key committee such as personnel and wanting guidance. There was the call I got asking if it were normal for a pulpit committee to NOT check any of the references of the person they were recommending as pastor.

Others have called to ask how to find potential staffers and to know if they are presenting themselves honestly, etc. One of our frustrations with Youth Ministers has been their lack of connection to and encouragement to their youth leaving their ministry.....let's not make the same mistake on the other end! Next,reason number 2 to work with alums.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"4 Things that Bother Me in the Church Planting Movement"

1. The feeling that if you aren't planting a church, you couldn't possibly be doing God's will. 2. The disdain some church planters have toward established churches. (One even told me they all just need to die.....hope he is not getting any of his funding from them!) 3. The message that some are giving that church planting now is the ONLY way to do college ministry. 4. The idea that church planting is the only ministry that Baptists need to do.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day, West Point & Cuts in Baptist College Ministry

Today LT Kaleb Blankenship, US Army and recently returned from deployment, read scripture in our service. He did so as part of our honoring those who do and have served. Kaleb was there because he married an Arkansas State University girl he met while both were serving in Beach Reach Spring Break ministry. Kaleb was there as the president of the BSU/BCM at West Point. Kaleb was being mentored by Dwain Gregory who had retired from campus ministry and moved there. Since the funding for a full-time campus minister at West Point had been eliminated, Dwain had begun to serve on a part-time basis. As kaleb read scripture, I was struck by how fortunate we are to have men of his character and ability honoring the Lord and serving as a leader in our military. Then I was struck by the absurdity of the fact that Baptists can't "afford" to have a full-time person serve at some of our most influential campuses such as West Point. Some estimate that within the last two years Southern Baptists have cut 35 to 50 full time college ministers. This does not count the part time positions that have been deleted. A man in my Sunday School class who is aware of some of the cuts asked me why the cuts had been made. The simple answer is a change in the funding priorities of the North American Mission Board and in some state conventions it is due to decline in income and college ministry has not been a high enough priority. We are losing the 20 something generation to the church and college ministry is not a high priority? My Sunday School friend said, "Why isn't someone waving a flag about this?". I am waving the flag! Would you wave the flag whenever and wherever you can?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"Sue's Birthday/Women in Campus Ministry"

Today is my wife/Sue's birthday. I have been struck by what a huge part she has been in whatever "success" or just good stuff that happened during our 32 years at Arkansas State University. When we came the secretary quit and she took it on temporarily until we could find the right person. I am not sure where in the 32 years we decided she was the right person. It took me a while to realize that students were watching us to see how marriage worked. As more students came from fractured families, the more this became true. When they were sick, they didn't want to talk to me; they came to see Sue. She would look into their eyes and tell them if they had fever and what they needed to do. A doctor friend of mine said only moms can tell if someone has fever by looking in their eyes. As our ministry began to grow, she didn't just coordinate the Lunch program with churches, she would cook for 200 to 300 students. At our retreats she would do a seminar on cooking and I don't know how many girls have told me that one of her recipes that she showed them how to fix is their "go-to" recipe. I am reminded of when our girls were at home that she would have supper at whatever weird time it worked for us to all eat together and me go back to the campus or cause I just finally got home! On her birthday today I just realize again how God blessed me with her AND how he blessed the BCM ministry at Arkansas State with her. And, it makes me want to say to all the Baptist powers that be....let's not lose the concept of husband and wife teams in college ministry. I know the arguments against it....some feel like it is just a trick to pay him more, etc. But, as families more and more break down, our putting great/ normal marriages in front of university students is more important than ever! Just some of my grateful thoughts on This birthday of Sue who has gotten way more credit than she wanted and way less than she deserved. As she says, one summer when we were dating, she came to see me where I was summer youth minister and she wound up cooking hamburgers for 50 youth for an event...God was trying to tell her something then. Glad she missed that warning!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

More Thoughts on Why Students Attend the First Time

One of my basics in reaching freshmen in a college ministry is that the summer is key. Good falls are made in the summer! I recently heard a college minister say he only ever had 3 or 4 freshmen tell him they liked his letter he had mailed out, so he quit doing summer mail outs to incoming freshmen. First, I think a "letter" is probably the poorest form of summer mailout, unless it is a personal letter. I believe personal notes/letters do make a connection. But, I believe cards, brochures, etc with pictures on them that tell a story make a huge difference. A picture communicates many different messages in just a glance. A few years back, the University of Nebraska in their attempt to communicate with potential incoming freshmen said they had determined it took 7 different mailings to communicate their message. Part of the truth here is that it is never one thing or one attempt. I completely agree that a personal, face to face invitation by a trusted acquaintance is the most likely to get a positive response. But, I believe that even that is affected by other contacts. They have seen publicity about them ministry or event. They received an attractive card/brochure about the ministry or event. Someone had already sent them a Facebook message. It will always be a combination of things. But, if our survey of 443 students is correct and I believe it is that 77% came because someone invited them, we must do a better and intentional job of teaching, training and encouraging our students to be "inviters.". Plus, at the first of the year, we must have events that are easy to invite students to attend. I conclude quoting Pete Wilson at the Collegiate Summit. He was invited as A freshmen by a cute girl to go to a BCM Welcome event and he said, "Never under-estimate the power of a free hot dog.".....and I would add promoted by a cute girl. God always has and always will use relationships.