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.