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.