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?