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.