Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE Dirty Word: Administration

The dirty word for many College Ministers (and all different ministers) is administration. The cry of many is, "I was called by God to help people..not shuffle papers".

I believe that if we administrate well, we actually multiply our ministry. Good administration usually leads to more organization and more involvement with a wider variety of people than just our "out of my hip pocket ministry". Much of administration connects to our funding or increasing financial support. So, how do we administrate better when that's not our calling or our gift? Here's the 1, 2, 3's:

1. Have a set time of day or week to do paperwork.
-Friday mornings were always great for that for me. Students had other thoughts and didn't want to see me on was the weekend when all was right.

2. Certains tasks are annual tasks such as working on budgets, alumni mailings, etc.
-These fit really well in times when students are gone....summer, Christmas, Fall Break, Final exams week. Plan
And use these times well and it frees you for people ministry other times.

3. Use your first hour of the day for answering messages, sending letters, etc....then it's done for the day and
You are free. Don't check your email or other messages till this hour is over.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's the Toughest Jobs for College Ministers?

A veteran College Minister recently said he felt the toughest things to do as a College Minister were:

1. Supervision - leading, training empowering staffers under you.
2. Networking - Connecting with others you can learn from and have a sense of emotional support from others who share your calling.
3. Administration - Doing the business side of leading a ministry.

First, let me make a quick swing at Supervision. I totally agree that this is one of the huge weaknesses I see in many College Ministers. The 1, 2, 3's of supervision:
1. Spell out clear expectations and job responsibilities.
- What is priority and what is not?

2. Give immediate and clear feedback in the beginning.
- What are they doing right? Wrong?
- Be sure to give credit for effort.
- Give little pointers you learned the hardest.

3. Make sure they know it is never wrong to come and ask questions.

4. Make sure they see you as a friend...with authority....not someone who is hoping to catch them messing up.

5. Each week give them some specific tasks you want to see accomplished.

6. Meet with them weekly....doesn't have to be long.
- It can be staff meeting or individual, but be personal with them.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What's THE Most Important Thing?

A College Minister friend asked me today what I thought was the single most important thing to do in a College Ministry?

My answer was "One on one meetings" with your student leaders. It strengthens your ministry in many ways and builds deeply into their lives. Plus, it repays the investment they are making in the ministry.

He then said, "What else is number 1?". My second number one most important thing is "Demonstrate excellence and expect excellence". Students ought to see things done well and they ought to be taught to do them well. Second rate is never good enough in ministry and anything that is supposed to honor the Lord. "Close enough for government work" doesn't apply here.

He then asked "What is your third Number 1"? It is "Accountability". Are students taught to be accountable to the commitments they make? We fail them when we do not help them to learn to be accountable.

That's it....that's my number one most important thing we must do in College Ministry.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Accusation: I'm Old Fashioned in College Ministry

Recently, I was accused of being old fashioned in my College Ministry. Let me plead guilty on several counts:

-I don't wear gel in my hair.

-I don't have black frame glasses and I usually wear my shirt tucked in.

-During the music worship time before I speak when the lights are doing different crazy Tech Team then turns on the mirror ball....and I flinch!

-We don't use a professional worship band...We use students to train them for future service.

-I still hug students; I was told years ago I shouldn't do this.

-I think churches make a mistake when they separate their College Ministry from the rest of the church.

-We don't try to reach out to just the pretty and popular students and we have all kinds.

-I still believe it works best when campus based ministries and church based ministries cooperate rather than competing.

Yep; I'm guilty of all those things.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Most Perplexing Collegiate Ministry Issue

There are many things that I don't understand in Collegiate Ministry....but, the most perplexing is how and why "committed Christian students" disappear from practicing their faith when they come to college.

All of us are familiar with the figure, "4 out of 5 high school seniors active in church have no spiritual connection in college". Others say the figure is "7 out of 10". Either way, it is not encouraging....what happens?

A mother recently shared that her "Christian high school daughter" now at the end of her first semester in College thinks mom is old fashioned because she won't let her go spend a week in another state with her boy friend...just the two of them in his new apartment. There's the guy who was a leader last year in his youth group and a worship leader...this fall in college, he is drunk a lot and not connected to a church or campus ministry.

What happens? Is it peer pressure is greater? Was their Christian commitment last year just responding to the peer pressure of a different group? Or, were they just "taken" to church by their parents?

A Sociologist who made a study of high school seniors and their transition to college has said, "Parents aren't getting what they want(faith-wise), but they are getting what they deserve". I accept that in some cases, but not in all.

Some have said it happens as a result of growing up with "Rules Religion" and when they get to school and break one of the "rules" they quit faith out of guilt.

Somehow, we have to get a better understanding of what happens between youth group star to no faith walk in college.

How do we re-connect with them after they have gone away (sophomore, junior, senior years)?

Later Addition: My friend Brian Combs recommends "Artificial Maturity" and "Generation IY" by Tim Elmore and "Hurt" by Chap Clark, if you want to pursue this topic more. We had Clark at the Collegiate Summit right after he wrote this book. He had just spent a year sub teaching in different high schools as part of his prep and research. Great suggestions by Brian!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Differences in a Collegiate Ministry and a Ministry TO Students

In a previous blog I said there was a difference in a Collegiate Ministry and a Ministry TO college students. I also said both are good and we need both....they just aren't quite the same.

A ministry to students pre-predetermines when and what will happen. A College Ministry functions on the campus clock and students have big input into what happens and when.

A Ministry to Students pretty well just deals with spiritual issues. A College Ministry deals with all issues of college life...homesickness, teaches leadership, connects to and helps non-spiritual issues and activities on campus.

A Ministry to students is primarily adult/non-student led. A College Ministry has a majority of students leading and some or one non-student adults leading. Some College Ministries actually have no non-student/adultleaders.

A College Ministry is training students to take over leadership roles in that ministry in the future. A Ministry to students is usually not heavily dependent on students for its key roles for Leadership in that ministry for the future.

A Ministry to students is often better funded than a College Ministry because it has a large number of non-student adults leading out and active. They tend to bring more resources to the table.

A College Ministry tends to be more affected by the trends and decisions of a college administration than a Ministry to students.

A Ministy to students tends to have more non-student adults for mentoring and role models.

Students often speak and have the key roles at events at a College Ministry where staff tend to have the key roles at main events in a Ministry to students.

Where there are strong/large churches their ministry tends to be TO students.

A Ministry to Students tends to prioritize large group gatherings and a College Ministry has large group events but also prioritizes one to one.

Smaller church College Ministries tend to depend more on students in key roles and are more of a College Ministry.

Most Campus based ministries are College Ministries...not "To Ministries".

Where there are no strong church ministries, the Campus Ministry tends to be more hybrid...both to and for.

Smaller Church College Ministries tend to need and utilize more student leadership and be less non-student driven.

Usually, a Church College Ministry is a Ministry to students

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Message from Your Grandmother to College Ministers

Those that have read much of my stuff know I'm like your grandmother in that I harp on writing thank you notes.

Now, as the action on campus slows down is the time to think about who ought to get a thank you note from you. Who has helped your ministry? Who has gone out of their way for you? Whose church or Sunday School class has done something for you?

Different ways to do Thank You's:

-Handwritten notes are always appropriate.

-Use a great picture from your ministry and have Christmas cards made and mail to all your supporters.

-Still have some students around? Have each one of them write a thank you message to one of your supporting churches, classes, men's group telling what the ministry means to them.

-Make some fudge or cookies and take to that secretary or custodian that has gone out of their way to help you.

-Wite a summary of highlights of the semester and mail it to all your supporters.

Do people know you are grateful?

Do people/churches know their support makes a difference.

One last word from your grandmother....get some extra rest during the holidays...brush your teeth too!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Killer Band? A College Ministry or a Ministry To Students?

A few years back, a Church College Minister came to me and said, "Why don't you let me help you put together a killer band?". He said he would get his music guy at church and some different people out of the community and we could have a really terrific, professional worship band at our weekly event that he thought would draw an even larger crowd.

I like large crowds and I know how important the worship music is to students....but, I said, no thanks. We use students out of our ministry to make up our band. They aren't pro or semi-pro. A time or two we have had students quit our band because it was not pro enough for them. So, why am I so stupid?

I believe one of the main tasks of a legitimate College Ministry is to be training students for future service in the church. I don't think we do that well when we are always having "the pros" do things for them. I have seen student worship bands start out weak and end the year strong..getting better every week. Why? Because, they had the opportunity. Last Sunday at the church I attend, 4 of the 6 worship band members in the Contemporary service were past members of our student worship band. The paid "pro" leading had started out as a bass player in our band. The next year when we asked him to lead the band, he said he was the wrong choice because he wasn't a worship leader...that there were better musicians than him. I told him we wanted him because of who he was. He did it and he got better every week. Now, after graduating, he is a "pro".

There is a distinction between a service or ministry TO students and a College Ministry. A College Ministry is using students to train and prepare them for service in the future.

One question you may need to ask yourself is, Are we a College Ministry or are we a Ministry aimed at college students? They're both good...they just aren't the same thing.

6 Statements to Consider for Your College Ministry

1. Don't do what a student can do.

2. Always get contact info for any new student who comes to your event....Seeker friendly privacy is over-rated.

3. It's more important for potential freshmen leaders to have a good experience than to have a big responsibility.

4. Continually build and reinforce a wide network of support.

5. Be a teacher not a preacher.

6. Be a friend to the whole campus.

Friday, December 6, 2013

4 Questions to Ask at the End of the Semester

1. What is it that you/your ministry did that made the most difference?
-What did students respond to the best?
-What moved students most toward life change?
-What gave you the biggest bang for the buck?

2. What did you do that needs to go by the wayside?
-It isn't worth what it cost you time wise or monetarily.
-It used to work but it doesn't anymore and you are doing it from force of habit.

3. Are you making decisions based on what is not what was?
-Campuses and situations change. Students change.
-Are you thinking honestly about the situation NOW?

4. Are you playing to your personal strengths and the strengths of your ministry?
-Are you shortcutting on some things because they come easily to you and as a result you are not seeing all come out of it that you might?
-Each ministry has a unique or set of unique strengths....particularly where there is more then one college ministry this matters.
-What sets you apart? What makes your ministry unique?
-What are you offering that meets a need that is not being met elsewhere?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leaders and Covenant Agreement...Public Examples, Grace, Hard Conversations

We ask our student leaders to commit to a covenant agreement which in part asks them to not use alcohol and illegal drugs during their time of service. There are a variety of reasons for that. Regardless of different good arguments about what scripture says about alcohol, we have found it to be the number one problem on campus. In our setting we have also seen it be a huge barrier when non-Christians see Christians use alcohol.

But, what do you do about "enforcing" this commitment? A friend and colleague and I had a good discussion about it today. Where is the line between holding people accountable and snooping into people's personal lives? I don't believe you actively seek or check on people. I trust that Chrisitan leaders will honor commitments. I have had students come to me and indicate they had violated their commitment and apologize. If it becomes an issue that one of our leaders is violating this commitment, then I will have a conversation with them. If they tell me it is not true, I take them at their word. If they indicate that it is, we discuss where we go from there. If they continue that behavior, they cannot continue to serve. If they tell me it is true, but they realize they made a mistake, we talk about what happened and why. If they commit to honor their commitment from that point on, they continue in their leadership role. I have never had to have a second discussion with one of our leaders in this area who continued in their leadership role.

Recently, someone interpreted a vague Facebook message as possibly meaning that someone had violated their commitment in regard to alcohol, and I was asked if I would speak to that person. My answer was no. We cannot control or even know all that others say about us. I'm serious about working with students and teaching them to honor commitments. But, I never want my students to feel I don't trust them and am always looking over their shoulders.

It's a tough line to walk...teaching students to honor their roles as public faces of faith along with forgiveness and grace. How do you handle it?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What Has Changed in College Ministry?

Since I started College Ministry in the 70's, a question I am often asked is, "What has changed in these years?". My thoughts and responses will strictly be from a Baptist perspective and I would be interested to hear form other perspectives in the similarities or differences.

1. My first and quick answer is lack of loyalty of students. Formally, if you reached and worked with a student, they would stay with you their whole college career. This was particularly true of students in leadership roles. Now, a student may be very involved as a leader and just go to a different ministry the next year. Many students must almost be re-enlisted each year.

2. When I first began, many of the best known "BSU Directors" nationally were women.

3. Early on there was more emphasis on growth and discipleship and now there Is a greater emphasis on evangelism and missions teams.

4. There are fewer weekly events now. The BSU program I was involved in as a student had 8 programs each week....5 Noondays 12:25 to 12:50 Monday thru Friday and 3 night programs 6:00 to 6:30 Monday, Tueaday and Wednesday. When I went to Henderson State as Director, we "only" had 3 programs a week...Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
5:30 to 6:00. It was 10 minutes of music led by a different student each time, 5 minutes of announcements and a speaker for 15 minutes.

5. Today College Ministers are often expected to be speakers. In the 60's and 70's the emphasis was to stay in the background. If you were up front, you were not equipping your students to do the ministry.

6. The "Big Name Speakers" were staffers at NAMB and IMB or one of the Seminaries (Nathan Porter, Ed Seabough, Stan Nelson, Tommy Starks, Grady Nutt) and spoke at the large conferences and on local campuses as part of their job. Later on Charlie Baker was the preminent college speaker while pastoring churches in Oklahoma. Money was not an issue in having them.

7. Church College Ministries were primarily Sunday morning College Sunday School and Sunday night supper and programs at church or in homes.

8. Weekend Revival Teams of 4 or 5 students went to different churches throughout the year leading youth or all church revivals. That's where many led music or preached for the first time. Later, that morphed to traveling Drama Teams and Singing groups primarily for Sunday night services.

Conclusion: College Ministry will always change, adjust and adapt....the point is to be intentional about meeting needs and being what God is leading us to do. Don't change to change and don't stay the same cause, "That's the way we have always done it.".

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some Interesting Classroom Figures and How it Applies to Christian Discipleship

I, like all of you, have students in my office and in the cafeteria or Food Court crying figuratively or literally about a class they are failing or that their grade point may not be high enough to keep their scholarship.

The first question I ask is, "Do you go to class all the time?". Often the answer starts out, "Well....". My friend, Bruce McGowan of Texas College Ministry, says any answer that starts with well is not going to be a positive answer. That particularly applies to oral references.

But, in this case, the "Well" is usually followed by something like, "I don't go all the time.". This is a college euphemism for, "I don't go much at all.".

Dr. Joy Trauth is an Instructor in Biological Sciences at Arkansas State University. She shares these statistics from two classes she taught with 309 students who started out in the classes.

-60 students dropped the class before the end of the semester. The average number of absences for each student at the time he or she dropped was nine (9) for a class that met 3 times a week for fifteen weeks.

-Students who made A's (12.4%) and B's (20.5%) had an average of 2.4 absences.

-Students who earned a D (22.5%) or F (19.8%)had an average of 8.3 absences.

-Of those students that earned an A or B 14 had perfect attendance.

-Only 4 students who had a D or F had perfect attendance.

The past couple of weeks I have visited with some students in responsibility roles in our ministry about their "absences" at important leadership events. One of our tasks as College Ministers is to teach, ask for and hold students accountable to being present where they have committed to be. A lot of life is affected by whether or not we show up. You fail your students when you don't teach about "The Discipleship Characteristic of showing up".

An Excellent Article.....In Our Quest to Understand Guys

The new edition of Time Magazine dated December 2, 2013 has a long article entitled, "What Boys Want". The article is written by Rosalind Wiseman. Wiseman is the author of a new book, "Masterminds and Wingmen" published by Harmony Books.

Ms. Wiseman talks about the rising number of young men who commit suicide and spends most of the article discussing guys and relations with girls and the changes in how guy girl relationships work....the hook-up culture, etc.

It's worth your time to read.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Students and Second Spiritual Experiences

In my return to the college campus in my fifth season, one of the things I continue to hear and wrestle with is students' second spiritual experience.

When I ask students to share their spiritual story, many will say, "I became a Christian when I was 8 (or 9 or 10) and then when I was 17 or 18, I really got serious about it or really became a Christian or understood what it meant", etc. Some will describe it as a salvation experience and ask to be re-Baptized. Others will say, "I know it was real before....but...".

I have decided since I have heard this literally hundreds of times to let students label it whatever they want. I also don't begin to think I'm spiritually astute enough to tell them what it was or wasn't for them...salvation, rededication or what.

I call it "The Discipleship Decision". I believe young children can genuinely trust Jesus. I also know that young children can be stampeded down an aisle. They can go because they are supposed to or everyone else in their class is. It also makes sense to me that a young child who genuinely accepts Jesus as Savior does not have a clue about lifestyle discipleship, etc.

Psychologists say the two greatest times of change in a person's life are birth to one and high school graduation to Christmas. It makes a lot of sense to me that those that I know that are serious about their faith...many if not most...have made a "Discipleship Decision" about faith.

I think we must help students work this out, hear them with love and be careful to not tell the what it is. I would be very interested to know how other College Ministers work with this.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What Do You Think Questions

I did a blog recently about doing interactive Bible studies with students and one of my suggestions was to ask simply, "What do you think?". A friend commented that in his experience that leads to students just speaking opinions on scripture that do not take in the totality of scripture, etc.

I agree....but....I think that is where you use your kind, loving reasonable voice and say, "Yes, I know many have that view of this scripture, but I take a little different viewpoint and here's why.....". Then, I say, "What do you think?". It's a dialogue and not a put down.

In my experience that is almost always taken well and the students respect that their friend has been respected and that two Christians can reasonably look at and talk through the meaning of scripture. They don't have to think exactly alike.

What do you think?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What's THE #1 Thing for Freshmen in a Church?

Twenty One(21) College Freshmen serving as members of a campus based ministry Freshmen Leadership Team were asked to list of five choices the most important factor for them in choosing a church:
Special College Student Events
Personality of the College Minister
Music/Band at Church
Friendliness of Everyone
Preaching Style/Sermons of the Pastor

Here's what these freshmen said was most important to them:

Preaching Style/Sermons of the pastor - 9
Friendliness of Everyone - 6
Special College Student Events - 3
Music/Band at Church - 2
Personality of College Minister - 1

Obviously, this is not a large enough number to draw any hard conclusions from. But, again similar to the upperclassmen, they do not list music as a high priority. I must admit I am a little surprised by the lower priority given to the College Minister by both freshmen and upperclassmen. I would not expect it to be first, but did think it would be higher, especially among freshmen. I don't think this speaks to the unimportance of a Church College Minister, but it indicates more the importance of that person's organization skills rather than being a "personality".

Again, friendliness is important!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why Do Students Pick a Particular Church? Part 3

Forty five (45) student leaders in a campus based ministry were asked to finish this sentence, "The one thing I most want from a church is...."

There were several different answers but there was one clear number one...they said it in different phrases, but it was clearly family, loving community. Belonging with and being involved with people that knew and cared for them was it.

Second was "a place to serve" as several phrased it.

Third was good sermons.

None...not one mentioned music. Again, I don't know if that is simply a given or if that tide has changed or we have way over-rated the music issue. I personally believe music and worship style is very important, but it is not the single driving force that some believe that it is.

Want it simple? Students want to go where they are known and loved.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why Do Students Pick a Particular Church? Part 2

The second question asked of the 45 students who serve as leaders in a campus based ministry was,
"What is the ONE THING that is a TURN OFF to you at a church?".

There were answers like, "Sermons that don't pertain to our age" and "Not allowing students to help". But, the two most listed things were "Cliques or "Unfriendly" and "not welcoming".

Some speak of the perception that the College Minister has favorites or talk about "holy huddles". It's really pretty students are people and they don't go where they don't feel welcome!

How well is the Welcome Mat out at your church? Perhaps students are very welcome, but somehow they are not being made to feel welcome. They say it's their #1 Turnoff to a church.

NEXT: The ONE thing I most want from a church

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Why Do College Students Pick a Particular Church?

We asked 45 students who serve on Ministry Teams in a campus based ministry to "Number 1 through 5 the things that are Most important to you in a college church (1 being most important).

The choices were:
Special College Student Events
Personality of the College Minister
Music/Band at church
Friendliness of Everyone
Preaching style/Sermons of the Pastor

Here are the results by the number of students who listed that item as the number one most important:

Special College Students Events 1
Music/Band 2
Personality of the College Minister 8
Friendliness of Everyone 17
Preaching style/Sermons of the Pastor 17

Is music/worship not as important as it used to be or do students simply take that for granted in the choices they consider?

One gigantic point for me out of this very limited survey is, the value of the whole church being bought into the College Ministry. If "Friendliness of Everyone" is one of the top two most important, does the church encourage, train and cast vision for the College Ministry to the whole church? A friend in a large college church has talked to the congregation on Sundays prior to school starting about how they can help and what they can do to make students feel welcome.

Another factor that was not listed in the choices is, students want to go where other students go. That's the tough thing about getting a church College Ministry off the ground. Students invite students. No one wants to go where they feel like the lone duck. There is a momentum that comes from other students going. Some years ago I was driving a van of students going from church to church in a Progressive Dinner for Freshmen. Each church had done an excellent presentation. By the time we reached the final stop, the students on my van had already figured out where most students went. I honestly don't know how they did it. A huge factor must be getting a core group of students to buy into ownership of the ministry and reaching out to other students.

I'll leave to you to tell the pastor how and what to preach!

Next: "What's the ONE THING that's a turn off to you at a church?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Interactive Bible Study and Asking Questions

I speak weekly for our large group worship event and it is interactive. Students make comments and ask questions. No; it's not a huge crowd...its less than 200 on a normal night....but its not a small group either. I believe that one of the tasks of a College Minister is to help students learn to think for themselves. Also, as students decide for themselves what they believe, it is important that they be allowed to ask questions and taught to wrestle with scripture for themselves.

As a part of encouraging students to speak up, I ask questions. Some friends say they wrestle with coming up with deep questions to ask......I don't ask deep questions. I find with a deep or right or wrong question with a specific answer, students are reluctant to speak up for fear of looking foolish.

Asking Questions At Your Student Events:

1. Ask opinion questions...."What do you think"?

2. Ask experience questions....."Have you ever had an experience like this and how did you respond"?

3. Never ever ever, put down what a student says or make them feel dumb!

4. When possible praise comments that are made or questions that are asked.

5. if someone says something that you simply feel must be countered, say something like, "I see where you are coming from, but I would take a little different view". Always be kind.

6. Ask students to read scripture...just let them volunteer. Sometimes, you can ask students to read the same passage from different translations or paraphrases.

7. Sometimes, I've even had a giveaway for the first student to speak up.

Students hear lots of preaching...but, they don't often have a chance to hear other students comment on scripture and be challenged by what their fellow students say.

Ask questions and let your students speak....often, the best thing said will come from one of them.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Help; Our Church College Ministry is Sucking Wind!

One of the privileges I have is to visit with church College Ministers who aren't the big budget ministry, but they see the need and want to connect with and minister to students.

Here are 10 Ideas that Have or Are Working for Somebody.

1. Have breakfast in Sunday school each Sunday witha 4 week rotation.
- pancake man comes once a month and cooks to order.
-casserole Sunday....a different department does it once a year.
-Kids Cereal Day....coco puffs, Lucky Charms, etc
-Panera rolls and coffee

2. Students serve in Kids Ministry Wednesday nights and the church gives them free supper.

3. Wednesday night supper for a $1.

4. Serve Lunch after late worship with Sunday school around the tables.

5. Serve Sunday lunch once a month.,,tied to football home schedule or whatever.

6. 4 Wednesday or Sunday Night Rotation
-Tough question Night...guest speaker speaks on topic like What's the Unforgiveable sin? Revelation in Brief.
-Service a project at the church...clean up or paint an area.
-Guys Only/Girls only...split for gender specific event.
-Worship night

7. Serve the Community Weekly Project.

8. Have a night where you pair students with doctors,lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc to help students know About their career direction.

9. Have Wednesday night small groups led by students.

10. Be uniquely what your church has to offer.....don't try to copy the "Big Ministries".

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesus' Disciples Didn't Jell Their Hair??

I was participating in a University recognition Day at a church yesterday and stood next to the pastor during the music/worship session led by their University Minister and student band. The pastor is a veteran (nice term meaning old like me) and he turned to me and said, "You've seen music go from soup to nuts during your careeer haven't you."

Yes; I have. I remember when it went crazy new and edgy and we went from a piano with one girl playing and one guy directing to different people leading and the words were put on the wall with an overhead projector! We were out front and outside the box. Then, when we started what is now the contemporary worship movement, a College Minister said to me, "We have finally gotten to authentic worship". I said, I wonder what what will come after this. He looked at me horrified.....there is nothing after this...this is it was his Clear thought.

I know to some it is sacrilegious to say, but there is always a next....there will be another new thing at some point. God uses different things at different points. We must never lose sight of that. It is always difficult to keep the message and the vehicle separate. Jesus didn't have a cool worship leader that I know of....maybe even none of the disciples jelled their hair. Plus, I don't think there was a light show at the Sermon on the Mount.

Our message must never be that we are cool, edgy, outside the box or look good in V-neck tee shirts. Our message can't be that our band is better than or louder than your band. Our message must always be that Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

If your vehicle is your message, your message will go out of style. If our message is clearly about Jesus....then, our ministries will be good for eternity. Be current...connect with students and communicate in ways they get and understand....just don't ever think the cool is the main thing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What About Student Leaders Who Don't Do What They Are Supposed to Do?

A common frustration in College Ministry is dealing with students in responsibility roles not doing what they have committed to do or are assigned to do.

Obviously, there is no magic answer....but, here's some things that may help.

1. Try to be clear up front what the responsibilities and time commitments are......don't assume they know.

2. Meet periodically with them to discuss how it's going, to evaluate and help them learn from recent experiences.

3. When they do not do something they are responsible for, don't ignore it. Discuss it with them...why did they not do it, show up, etc? If it is not brought up, perhaps they get the message it doesn't matter.

4. Decide what is the lowest degree of "acceptable". It may not be done on the level you would like it done, but it is acceptable and you will live with that.

5. Degree of "acceptability" may be determined by the degree of experience of the student, their age,and the effect of their actions on others.

6. If they consistently perform below what you have decided is acceptable, it is time to have "the talk". The talk is, "you can't continue at this level of performance and stay in this role". Part of our role is help students understand responsibility, if we don't, we have failed them as a College Minister.

By the way, word will get around, that you are willing to have "the talk". You might be surprised the positive effect on other students. But, you must be fair, honest and straight with students. And, you must always be willing to give a second chance. But, we are wrong if we do not teach and expect responsibility.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Encouraging Pastors and Staff

I talked with a pastor today for 45 minutes who really needed encouragement and needed to vent. I was reminded what a great opportunity we have to be an encouraged and listening healing ear.

I think the church folks feel some pressures and pains that we campus folks don't and God can use us to listen and encourage them

Hope you will look around for some pastors or church staff that might need someone to listen to them vent.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The 4 Laws of Announcements

Since I'm currently serving in an on-campus College Ministry position currently, I have less time to think and, you will occasionally see some of my favorite previous listings, or at least it's something I don't think we can emphasize too much.

I am a huge complainer about poor announcements.....So, here are the 4 Laws:

1. Make no more than 4 announcements....the more you make, the less they hear.

2. The person making the announcements needs to know about and understand what they are announcing.

3. The announcements need to be worded so that a first time attendee understands them.

4. The announcements should not become the main event or take too much time away from the main purpose of the event.

BUT, I believe there are announcements that should and need to be made!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Do The Students You Are Reaching Look Like Your Campus?

For Homecoming each year our ministry sponsors a Homecoming Cookout and Variety show. We see it as both a fun/fellowship event and an outreach event. Students are encouraged to bring friends, roommates, etc who are not part of our ministry. We work at trying to connect with them personally. As I was helping in one of the food serving lines, I was struck by the wide variety in appearance of those students going thru the line.

Recently, I spoke for a special event for a ministry on another campus. I was struck by the fact that they looked different than the students on our campus looked. They represented their campus. A while ago I was on a different campus and went with some students to the cafeteria. Again, I was struck by how the dress, styles, etc were different than what I see on my campus.

Two thoughts: it is a reminder that every campus is unique and our ministries must be tailored to each campus. Second, our ministry should look like our campus.

It is easier for all of us to reach those like us or just like those we have already reached. But, are we working at building bridges to different students, different campus groups? The crowd at our ministry hopefully all will not look alike.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why Do Students Ditch Their Faith in College?

All of us who do youth, College Ministry, or pastor a church trying to reach young adults ask this question. Having just completed my 43rd September with college freshmen, I still have this question, but with some additional thoughts....and questions.

Freshmen I have met with who have come to our ministry have expressed disappointment in friends who were Christians from their high school youth group have already begun to live contrary to their expressed commitments prior to coming to campus. One freshman guy who said he was a worship leader in his church is going on alcohol binge trips and asked an upperclass guy how not to do that.

Is it as simple as peer pressure? The desire to fit in is so strong and overwhelming? Was it just peer pressure in high school that made them youth group leaders and "See You At the Pole" participants? Is it all the same....just now the pressure they are responding to is different...same thing just different actions needed to fit in?

Part of the issue is parents who seem to accept and even condone the idea of going away from faith in college, cause we know you will come back after college.....cause that's what the parents did? One Church College Minister tells of a large group of high school seniors who graduated at his church last spring. He worked with them all summer and they were active with his ministry and started at the local University when the fall began. Since school has started, only one of the large group that attended in the summer has been once! It seems he did his part....what happened?

No magic answers from me....but...we have to help people get past this notion of, "Everyone goes away in college but comes back later" . Even if that were 100% true, they come back with the issues and marriages they developed while they were away from the Lord. But, we know right now most are not coming back.

Is peer pressure and fitting in the most powerful force? We thought they loved Jesus in high school and it was just peer pressure? Are parents walking away from their role in College students' spirituality?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Campus Hot Spots

Campus Hot Spots are those places where it is easy to see and run into a large number and variety of students. Many years ago when I first went to Arkansas Stare, I realized that almost everyone that lived on campus went to the campus post office at either 9:00 a.m. Or 10:00 a.m. Especially at the beginning of the year, I would stand in front of the post office. I would see students I had just met and could say hey again. Core students in our ministry would come by and introduce me to their roommate or whomever they were walking with.

Obviously, cell phones and Facebook or email has changed that....but, the principle of Campus Hot Spots has not. Where are places or the place you can go where you see students you know and meet others without it being awkward?
It may be the campus coffee shop....maybe it is the student exercise center. For me, it is the cafeteria. Amazingly enough ASU has only one cafeteria. Any student who lives on campus goes there. I go there for Lunch Monday and Thursday. I sit with a table full of students and talk...both serious and fun. I get to speak to others in passing. Students introduce me to other students. I must confess that I have sometimes eaten more than I wanted or needed just in order to stay connected to a new group that had just filled up the table.

Sometimes, I make an appointment to meet a student or two for lunch there to get to know them better. Other times I just go. But, for me that is The Campus Hot Spot. Where is your Campus Hot Spot?

My friend, Darrell Cook, BCM Director at Virginia Tech, yesterday reminded me of the term "Campus Hot Spot". He also said I told him years ago to put more money in his retirement fund.....that's real good advice....believe me!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Things I Saw and Heard on Campus This Week

An International student came into our Center and asked if he and some friends could use our chapel and drums for their band to practice for an event this weekend. I told him I would be glad for them to practice there, but that the drums belonged to one of our students and I could not loan them. I told him he would be there later and he could come back and speak to the owner. He came back and visited with the student who owned the drums. I asked my student about the conversation, he laughed and said, "They not only wanted to borrow my drums to practice, but they asked if I could teach their drummer how to drum".

The Chi Alpha ministry on campus had a tent set up in front of the Student Center advertising "Giant Sushi Roll". They were using it as a way to contact and connect with International students. Great Idea!

The funniest thing I saw this week was the student who was sitting at a table in the Student Center where organizations can have a table to promote events or distribute information. He was playing guitar and singing. On the table he had his guitar case open the way street musicians do to receive money. There was a sign on the open guitar case that said, "Donate to (Name) Campus Ministry". I have never seen that before. Two thoughts went through my head....does he get any or much money...and does the Campus Minister of that ministry know he is doing this?

A student told me that he was uncomfortable going to a Christian campus event he had attended regularly for the last couple of years because they were appealing now primarily to Greeks and athletes. Others shared they also did not feel comfortable there any longer. There is a mystery here. The Crusade Director at Ole Miss has a huge weekly event involving 400 to 500 Greeks. He told a friend when they tried to make it for non Greeks as well it dwindled to about 60. They had to go back to all Greek. What does this mean and how should we respond?

A student told me he wished his college church would connect him to an older family. He only knows other students.

What did you hear and see on campus this week?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Should Freshmen Be in Collegiate Ministry Leadership Roles?

The simple answer in my mind is "No". But, I know life and ministry is anything but simple.

Sometimes, you don't have good choices and you do what has to be done. Maybe you are just staring a ministry and freshmen are what you are your leaders. Overall though in an established ministry, I think we do harm when we put freshmen in heavy responsibility roles. My thinking on that was partly shaped years ago when we had a traveling singing group. We did auditions the second week of school...everyone had to try out again. A freshmen girl who was a sensational singer tried out. She was better than the upperclass girl who sang the same part and had been in the group the previous year and been super faithful. The audition team picked the freshman girl. Within a month the freshman girl dropped out of the group and soon was out of the ministry. The upperclass girl's involvement was never the same.

Here's my thoughts. Faithfulness is more important than talent....really! I've also learned that some ministries just offer the same thing each year and consequently that's why some upperclassmen disappear. There ought to be some roles that you have to work up to and earn the right to serve. At one point, we would place sharp sophomores in leadership roles in our Freshmen ministry. Eventually, we decided that was a mistake. They didn't have the maturity to handle it. And, many of them would say after that year that they did not want to serve anywhere else. They had done the "Glamour Role". We decided that was a role you had to prove your faithfulness to be in....not just bright with a great personality.

There should be freshmen specific opportunities. They can be short term and students are likely to be successful. My number one problem with putting freshmen in high responsibility roles is the increased likelihood of failure due to immaturity, etc that may cause them to back away entirely. Freshmen need to be set up for success.

In fairness, I need to say we have lost a few freshmen because someone else would place them in a key role immediately. But, never let faithful upperclassmen feel you do not value their faithfulness!

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Cooperation between College Ministries is a touchy subject. I was leading a seminar at a national conference and a lady asked why there was not more cooperation between church and campus based college ministries. I paused before I answered and she said, "I have noticed there is always a pause when I ask that question". I thought of a friend who said, "It's tough to keep cooperating when you feel like you get stabbed in the back when you do".

Part of the answer is different people and ministries have different definitions of what cooperation is. For some, cooperation means not having an event at the exact same time as yours. My first definition of cooperation came in my first paid church job. I was the "Summer Youth Director" at my church after my freshman year in college. We were the "mega church" in the area because we had over 300 total attendance each Sunday. The pastor told me that I was to make it a priority to take our youth to the monthly area youth rallies. He said we could probably do something better on our own, but that for most of the small churches, that was one of the few or the only youth events they had. I was to not only take our youth, but I was to do what I could to make it better....not just for us, but for all those involved.

A complicating factor in cooperation is many College Ministers are judged on their attendance...not their cooperation. I believe that cooperation works best when we remember that no ministry is the perfect one for every student. I also believe that students benefit from involvement in both a church based ministry and a campus based ministry when their time allows.

A tough question to answer and live by is, "Am I doing what is best for students and my campus as a whole?"

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Students' "Ownership" of the Ministry

I have long believed that students owning the ministry as their own greatly strengthens the ministry. By owning, I mean they feel it is theirs and what they do matters. Students often "like" a ministry and attend it's functions and meetings, but they feel no responsibility or ownership of it.

In my fifth season on campus I have been reminded of this again and the huge value of their ownership. I am serving in as "Acting Director/Campus Minister" where I previously served. The Campus Minister who succeeded me resigned in August to take another position and the full time Assistant also resigned. Both left on great terms and there was no behind the scenes story.

I was concerned that some of the student leaders might walk away or just give a half hearted effort. This has not been the case. In fact, I would say it has energized them. They are keeping commitments and even more they are initiating things. Sometimes I have thought something was not done the way I think it ought to be done. Sometimes it was done as visually appealing as I might prefer.

But, when I have been tempted to correct or say, "Here's a better way", I have realized that it worked well, served the purpose AND it was done at their inititative. Most of the time I have swallowed my suggestions or coaching in order to not in any way dampen their sense of ownership!

I have experienced student's "extreme ownership" like this one other time. Several years ago my wife, Sue, was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She was going thru chemo. We made many trips to Little Rock to the Cancer Center and I went to each chemo treatment with her. We were building a new BCM Center at the time and that was consuming much of mymtime as well. I had a super Associate in Tim Stewart who was covering lots of bases.....and, the students owned the ministry and good things happened.

Ownership can be given by giving your students choices or options about direction and activities of the ministry. Beware of being over critical when they do it, but it's not the way you would do it. Think first that they did it and thank them. The coaching may come later when you sit down to evaluate or plan the next event.

Remember, nothing short of a special movement of God beats student ownership. Remember, there is a difference in "opinions" about how to do something and a right way and a wrong way. Don't let your opinions drown their ownership!

Friday, September 6, 2013

College Ministry and "Coolness"

In my "Fifth Season" back on the college campus, I have been overwhelmed by how positively I have been received by students.

I see other College Ministers from other ministries and churches out in their gym shorts, etc....but, that's not me. It doesn't fit my personality and it doesn't fit my age. I'm reminded that if you have to work at being "Cool" aren't.

It seems there are two factors working in my favor. Lifeway did a study a few years back that said one of the four markers in reaching young adults was that they wanted to learn from and be mentored by older adults.....I think Lifeway got that one right.

Second, I have long believed the "It Factor" in College Ministry is respect. Respect can be earned at any age. If you don't look good in gym shorts, it doesn't mean you have to get out of College Ministry. Respect is earned by being who you say you are, caring about and encouraging others advantage we old guys have....

.....I think college students/young adults have been disappointed by so many public figures and supposed role models they respond positively to a "mature adult" who is still living with integrity and trying to honor the Lord with his/her life. Ain't wearing gym shorts on campus!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Faith on Campus Fall Forum

Guy Chmieleski, Campus Minister at Belmont in Nashville, is hosting the "Faith on Campus Fall Forum" for those who minister to college students. The featured speaker is Dr. Tim Elmore. I love Tim Elmore since getting to him many years ago when he served as John Maxwell's College Minister. Tim has written some of the best stuff on leadership for college students and a book for College Ministers that I had the privilege of writing the foreword for when it was released at the National Collegiate Ministries Summit. Recently, Tim has written great stuff on values that is being used in public schools and super stuff on understanding this generation of college students.

The conference is October 23-24 in Nashville and the cost is $139. For more information, contact Guy at

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The BCM Director Position at Arkansas State

I have been privileged to return as "Acting Director/Campus Minister" at Arkansas State where I retired two years ago. Chad Logan who has served in this position for the last two years and done a super job has resigned to serve with a church in the Atlanta area.

Some have asked about the position. David James, Arkansas Collegiate Ministry Team Leader, will select the person to fill this position. David is accepting resumes and recommendations for the position. No one has been selected for the position and there is no pre-determined selection.

I genuinely believe this is one of the best campus-based ministry positions in Baptist life. There is a large, practical and modern BCM Center in the middle of the campus. The program has an excellent budget and strong alumni support that helps to provide additional staff positions. The University administration is very friendly and cooperative with the ministry. There is a strong on-going program with a strong tradition. The current weekly schedule includes Freshmen Night and International Conversation partners on Monday night, a large Lunch program on Wednesdays with a speaker, and large group worship on Thursday nights.

Recommendations and resumes may be sent to David at Anything sent to me, I will simply forward to David.

Friday, August 30, 2013

College Minister: Preacher or Teacher?

I have commented in the past that I think College Ministers have swung more from seeing themselves as teachers to seeing themselves as preachers. I think this partly the result of the Passion Conferences which consciously or unconsciously College Ministers tend to see Louie Giglio as their role model. Also, I think the example of the mega church ministries where some young charismatic pastor speaks to hundreds of students each week shapes our view of how it is "supposed" to be done.

As I am a little way into my return to the college campus (my fifth season), I want to come down again more firmly on the side of the College Minister as teacher. I have long seen myself as a speaker...not a preacher. When I was little I heard some described as preachers and other as speakers. I asked my dad what the difference was. My dad was a simple uneducated man. He scratched his head and said, "I think when you speak you have to have something to say". That's a true story, I promise.

There's lots of great preaching....but there's not many people trying to teach students how to do life. And, I think less than ever do they know how or have anyone teaching them how to do the everyday living of life. I spoke last night to a very nice crowd and hope to speak to an even bigger crowd next week. But, I won't be preaching; I'll be talking about how God works in every day life. And, I'll let them ask questions and make comments....preachers don't do that. Then, I'll encourage them to go to church on Sunday where thy will hear some good and sometimes some great preaching.

Just don't call me a College Preacher!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Being Cheap, Wise, or Crazy in Spending in College Ministry

Each fall semester that begins I struggle with what is wise spending, where cheap is dumb and where extravagance is crazy.

I have seen groups and ministries spend some crazy amount for one event. I've seen ministries put on a third class event because they were trying to save a dime. I believe one of the toughest decisions we make is where and how much we spend at the beginning of the school year. Many years ago, I was talking with a friend who was in "THE fraternity" at a major university. I asked him how much they spent on their Rush/Recruitment to get 50 guys. I was blown away by the amount. It changed my thinking on how much I should budget/spend on the first few weeks of the fall.

But, I also believe in charging students for some things. It involves some commitment on their part. It teaches that life isn't always a free lunch. I've often told students on some things we can do "the 20 year loan plan". Most of them have paid it off at some point!

Often, I supplement the cost of things, but don't make it free. Oh, by the way, I believe you should pay your speakers as well as you can. Doing money in ministry is hard! Keep thinking and praying about it. Don't be wise!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Responding to Messages and Saying Thank You

Those that know me very well or have heard me lead a session at a College Minister conference know that I am adamant about writing thank you notes to your contributors and other folks that ought to be thanked by you.

I also am also a strong believer in answering messages or responding to emails and other messages. If someone sends me an email that needs no response, I often will send a "Thanks" or even "Tks". That way they know I got it. I never cease to be amazed by "professional ministry" people who don't respond to messages or return calls.

Recently, in my role as a Contract worker for the Lifeway Collegiate office, I presided at a session where Dr Frank Page, President of the Executive Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke to a large group of our College Ministers. If you don't know Baptist organization, that is the number one Baptist hired hand! I wrote him a brief thank you note, as he had gone out of his way do it and had been extremely encouraging to the group. Guess what......I got a thank you note back for my thank you note.

It didn't surprise me too much since I had had an experience with him when he was President of the Southern Baptist Convention and written him a thank you....and he wrote me a thank you for my thank you.

Here's my point, I would guess you aren't busier or more important than Dr. you take/make time to return messages or let folks know you got the information they sent you? People do notice! But, you don't have to write thank You's for your thank You's.....that's bonus stuff.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Oh-No of Announcements

Announcements is a dirty word to lots of people....not got stuff you need people to know. And, you know stuff people want to know. I have just been through Welcome Week and four different large group events where announcements were made by a variety of church folks, both staff and lay people. Some were well done and some could have been better.

Here is what I noticed....most had lots to share....lots. They announced many things and lots of time it ran together. Heads dropped and eyes glazed over.

So, what's the secret? It's LESS is MORE! Pick out one or two things you want them to know...share those one or two things. Smile and be positive and warm.

Some would announce everything from every event they offer to what trip they were taking in January. I'm convinced the more you announce...the less they hear!

So, what do you announce? Here's my two suggestions. Announce your next event. Most students, particularly freshmen tend to live moment to moment. So, what's next? What's tomorrow? What's this weekend?

Or, if they should just attend ONE thing you offer, what would it be? What's THE thing you most want them to attend?

Remember: Less is more and the more you announce, the less they hear!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Most Important Thing?

There can be lots of different nominations for the most valuable thing in a strong College Ministry. After my return to the ministry at Arkansas State, at this point I would say it is strong student leadership

I have seen our student leaders reach out in love to new students. I have seen them be pro-active in thinking of things they need to do that had not even entered my head.

So, how do you develop and encourage strong student leadership?

1. Always express appreciation for their hard work and's easy to take them for granted.

2. Give them opportunity to express their thoughts and ideas.

3. After an event or project help them to evaluate and learn from it.

4. look for ways to connect them to areas where their passions lie.

5. Always, always model hard work and responsibility!

6. Remember, there is a difference in the way they are doing it being wrong....and just not the way you would do it.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

E Book Now Available

My E Book, Doing College Ministry Better, is now available at

It contains:

8 Tasks We Must Keep Developing to Do it Better

6 Building Blocks for Doing it Better

10 Basics of College Ministry

Thanks to those who have encouraged this and ask for more on-line resources. It's not rocket science; it is just every day practical ideas on doing College Ministry.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Fifth Season of College Ministry

I have written and spoken a lot at College Minister Conferences about the four seasons of a lifelong College Ministry and how to survive and thrive in each season. Two years ago I retired from a long time ministry at Arkansas State University. Two weeks ago my successor announced his resignation (after 2 very strong years) and I was asked to become the "Acting Director" since school was about to start and to allow the powers that be to make wise decisions about what is next.

My wife, Sue, said now I could write and speak about the fifth season. As usual, I think she has a good idea. So, it is my hope and plan to share some thoughts from the Fifth Season over the next few weeks.

First, I have been asked to work 3 days a week to oversee a large ministry. I know I am not now suddenly smart enough to do in 3 days what used to take me 6 or 7 days a week to do. So, it means I have to figure out what I am going to do and what not to do......and feel ok about it.....not let it eat me up.

Second, I have to not put pressure on myself that no one else is putting on me! Several years ago, we did a fund raising campaign among our alums, friends and area churches to raise the money to build a very large and nice campus ministry center. We said we were doing it to take our ministry to another level. Attendance had peaked out to the max in our old Facility. When the money was given and the center built, I felt a pressure to take the ministry to the next level....were we growing as we should? Did the crowds justify the money given and spent?

Our ministry did grow, but I think I never released myself from that pressure. As I think about it now, I think no one was exerting that pressure....except me. I was putting pressure on myself.

In this, the Fifth Season, I realize the importance of setting my priorities, living by those priorities and not feeling pressure that no one is exerting but me!!

How about you....have you decided your priorities....are you living by those priorities.....and, are you exerting pressure on you that no one else is exerting??

Coming soon...more thoughts and lessons from The Fifth Season.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Correction on New Collegiate Minister Training at Glorieta

Yes; there's a reason when I speak I always use notes! Here's the CORRECT information.

New College Minister Seminar is Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

The night time leader track seminars are at 6:45.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Glorieta Collegiate Minister Leader Track

It's my privilege at the Collegiate Week Conference at Glorieta to be leading the following seminars at 6:30 each evening.

Monday: "Large Group Worship Events (We will look at 4 different types of large group events, aids to quality, etc.)

Tuesday: "Special Evangelistic Events". (I will be sharing some different projects that have been used on different campuses this past school year.)

Wednesday: "Outreach Lunch Programs" (We will look at a variety of approaches to Lunch programs from general to especially targeted toward non-believers.)

Monday and Tuesday Morning:

"New Campus Ministers"- this is aimed at College Ministers who have just started or have served up to three years. Mark Whitt, National Collegiate Ministry Leader for Southern Baptists, will also be part of this seminar. It will meet twice during the morning student worship service on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to Arkansas State!

Effective September 1 I will become the Acting Baptist Collegiate Minister at Arkansas State University. Chad Logan, who has had a very successful ministry at ASU, has resigned as of August 31 to go to a church in Georgia. I am excited to work with the super student Leadership Team and BCM staffers.

For those who have asked, I am serving to give David James, State BCM Director and the Arkansas Baptist Convention, time to determine whether they will go with a full time interim or wait to bring in the new person. There is no pre-determined person for this position. if you have questions or interest, it is best for you to communicate with David. I will have no part in the selection process and will focus my time and energy toward ASU students.

I am pleased to again practice the "High Calling" on a local campus for this time!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don't Forget the 7 Reasons Collegiates Attended a Ministry the First Time!

As you get ready to start your semester and to train/work with your student leaders, don't forget the top 7 Reasons 400 plus students surveyed says they went the first time.

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%

Obviously, this adds up to more than 100%, so it is often more than one thing that goes into their attending the first time.

2 Questions to Ask:
1. Have I done my best to have the most possible appealing events for start of school?

2. Am I developing an "Invite Mentality" among my students?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Beware of College Ministry "Experts"!

It is a bit of a paradox for someone who writes and speaks on College Ministry to say, "Beware of College Ministry Experts!". But, sometimes we confuse fame with expertise.....or proximity to fame. A friend said he had just read an article on College Ministry by a person I had never heard of. When I asked about the writer, my friend explained that he was College Minister at a famous preacher's church.

Several years ago I was visiting with a pastor friend who was frustrated by all the pastor conferences he went to that would have the latest pastor who was at a booming church in a booming suburb of a large city to speak on how to grow a church. He said, "They know nothing about how to grow a church like the one I pastor.". A year or two ago a well known pastor who had briefly served as a Church College Minister wrote an article on College Ministry that was widely circulated. I disagreed with his basic premise and I wrote him an email about it. He was gracious enough to respond and said, "I didn't think about that.". But, the article continued to be passed about.

Here's the point. Sometimes the best person to help you and who you can learn from is not somebody famous. Rather, it is someone who is working in a similar situation to yours. Their ministry may not be large and they may not be the speaker at conferences, but they have dealt with the same issues that you face. I recently was visiting with someone who is leading a very successful College Ministry and many would correctly call him an expert. In the midst of our conversation he told me he had 24 staff members.....most College Ministries I know are 23 short of that. His ministry is to be admired and you probably will hear him at a conference....but someone else may likely be YOUR most helpful "expert".

Friday, July 26, 2013

3 Characteristics and Skills to Watch for and Develop in Student Leaders

Your Collegiate Ministry will be no better or stronger than your student leaders. When selecting and developing student leaders here are three key characteristics to look for and develop:

-Integrity: models/demonstrates what he/she says.

-Personal Discipline: studies and prepares for responsibility and has a commitment to excellence.

-Courage: willing to take an unpopular stand when necessary.

Consider these skills:

1. Team Building (not a one person show; willing to help others buy-in and share ownership)

2. Task Focus (able to see what needs doing and keep the main thing the main thing)

3. Team member development (helping each develop and enhance their unique God-given gifts and abilities)

Taken from a previous article in Collegiate Magazine

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Nuts and Bolts Stuff of College Ministry

I recently did a funeral for an old high school friend. The local pastor...not a newbie wanted to know some practical things about doing funerals and funeral home visitations. He said, "They never taught us stuff like that in seminary....or Roberts Rules of Order!". I think that last part about Roberts was heart felt!

What's the point? It points even more to the need for people in Collegiate Ministry to have a more experienced mentor or if you are one of those experienced College Ministry Gurus, you need to take younger ones under your wing and help them learn the every day nuts and bolts that aren't taught in a seminary class.

What are some ways to learn from others?
-when you visit a college campus, go into all the religious centers on campus and just see what you see....set-up, posters tell you all sorts of things, colors, furniture ideas.

-Ask an experienced College Minister if you can come follow him or her for a day or two.

-Look at the Website of lots of different College Ministries. Don't look at just those that are the same flavor as yours.

-Ask some different College Ministries to send you a copy of their brochure, poster, or leadership structure.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Welcoming the Nations Month.....Foreign Missions Done Cheap!

September is Welcoming the Nations Month for those who do College Ministry and/or for churches near a college campus.

The nations (International students) have come to us and are on our campuses. What if all believers on our campuses were intentional about fulfilling the Great Commission by welcoming International Students and introducing them to the love of Jesus Christ?

Why International Students? Most will return to their countries and become political, economical or educational leaders. How better to reach the nations than through their leaders?

What can you do? Here are some different ideas:
-Offer to provide rides from the airport to campus for arriving students (ok; that would be August..not September).

-Volunteer to be a Conversation Partner that helps a student learn conversational English just by talking and listening.

-Host a dinner at your church, BCM or other Christian Center and introduce them to American culture.

-Enlist Host Families to have Internationals in their home for a meal. Check out my May Blog, "The Single Best Thing You can do in International Ministry".

-Offer beds or bedding for Internationals who are moving into unfurnished apartments and often sleeping on the floor.

God has brought the world to us. At various times as many as three quarters of the number one leaders of the countries of the world have studied in the US.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Church and Campus Based Ministers Not Working Together...Part 2

1. Some Church based College Ministers say Campus based folks don't understand the pressure put on them to produce numbers. A friend who went from being a BCM Director to being a large church College Minister said he will never forget the Monday staff meeting when the pastor demanded to know why their student attendance had been down a little the day before.

2. Continued regular communication always helps. When possible, have a regular set time to do lunch or drink coffee or a coke.

3. Campus Based College Ministers don't think Church Based understand that the stronger the Campus based ministry is the more it can help churches.

4. Most Campus Based College Ministers have it in their job description to help least Baptist. Some Church based have it in their job description to cooperate with the Campus Ministry.

5. At leadership and band member selection time, have a conversation about who and what and where....maybe you could have your own player draft!

6. Campus Based College Ministers can and should highlight Church Based College Ministers. Church Based can and should do the same. Both provide things the other cannot or should not.

It is possible to have discussions about who reaches out to what dorms, teams, student groups. It is possible for each to reach some the other is not. It is possible to minister to some together. Confession: I once sent a Church College Minister an email telling him we were changing our large Lunch Program to the same time as his weekly Collegiate worship. Within 5 minutes he responded asking why. I then said, "We aren't.....just wanted to see if there was a message you would respond to.". I know it was wrong.....but, it sure was fun.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Don't Campus Based and Church Based College Ministers Get Along Better?

One of the frustrations in College Ministry sometimes can be the lack of cooperation between church based College Ministers and campus based. I asked a friend who is a Church Based College Minister who really cares about and sees the value of cooperation to list some of the frustrations.

Church Based College Minister Frustrations:

1. Lack of coordination (not competition)between the campus based and the church on over-all vision and strategy. Neither can do it alone. We need the partnership.

2. Lack of communication about, ministries, trips, mission trips.

3. Temptation for the Campus Based ministry to function as a church and replace the local church body while students are in college.

4. Competing schedules-student time is limited.

Campus Based College Minister Frustrations:

1. Churches want us to get students to their churches and then they schedule them so much they don't come back to the campus ministry.

2. Church College Ministers often don't connect students to the church as a whole, but rather just create another version of the campus ministry.

3. The Campus ministry develops student leaders and musicians and the church takes them all.

4. We try to schedule meetings for communication and the church guys won't come or return our phone calls.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Books to Loan or Give to Students

1. Is God Calling Me? by Jeff Iorg (President of Golden Gate Seminary) this is a super book, short, easy to read and super practical. Give to students asking this question. Give it to students that ought to be asking this question. It is great! If you ever have a chance to hear Iorg speak on this it....don't skip this session for coffee with a buddy!

2. Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Les and Leslie Parrott. I ask every couple I marry to read this book. While I served on a campus, I gave it to every student in our ministry who got engaged. I have helped the Parrotts have a wonderful book income. It is built around 7 practical questions.

Two new books that aren't for mass handout like the previous two, but worthy of loaning to certain students:

1. Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J. D. Greear. This is a book for students who struggle with doubt or have had multiple conversions.

2. Start by Jon Acuff. I think this would be a good book for seniors wrestling with whatmis their next step in life...and seemingly more seniors are there...or your former students who graduated, but are still just hanging out

2 More Thoughts on Books:
1. Its better to give a book to a student than to loan it.....cause 9 times out of 10, you won't get it back! Or, get a long log chain and attach to it.

2. If you have not read Andy Stanley's book, 7 Practices of Effective Ministry....why haven't you? Short...easy to read and I felt like it may have been the most helpful book in my ministry that I ever read! Maybe, I didn't read enough books or the right books....but!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

College Students and Cheating

As you think about what topics to speak about or to discuss with those students you meet with one to one, is cheating on your list?

Yesterday I visited with a former student who now teaches at my University. Her Department Head requires her to list in her syllabus what things are considered to be cheating. Students don't know! A student who is great about sharing her faith told of her friend who came to Christ. The friend told her she couldn't go to a Christian event because she had to get to class early. She said they were having a test and she said she had to get the right seat so she could cheat. Her friend who led her to Christ said, "Christians don't cheat.". The new believer said in great surprise, "They don't?". Later, she reported with great pride that she only had to cheat a little.

My teacher friend said, "All the students cheat.". I hope she is wrong...but, the only point of disagreement would be whether it is all or a lot. I am afraid we would be shocked to know of some of our "outstanding Christian students" who cheat....and have not even considered it being wrong.

I hope you are talking with your students about it...does it need to be one of your speaking topics for the fall? Wonder what their definitions of cheating include....or don't include? Who does their on-line class...them or their boyfriend?

Immediate BCM Campus Based College Ministry Position Available.

A large Baptist Collegiate Ministry just lost their Assistant Director and therefore has an immediate opening. This staffer would lead their Freshmen Ministry as well as work in all other areas of the ministry. The ministry is located on a State University campus with a large facility in the center of campus. This person could be male or female.

For further information or to provide a resume, you can email me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

If I Were Starting a College Ministry from Scratch....

Most of what I write about I have done or at least seen done....not this time. Both Campus based ministries I have served were already established and going when I arrived. But, out of that experience this is what i would do today if I were starting from nothing.

I would be all about Freshmen Ministry. I would hold events, seminars, and workshops for freshmen. The large ministries that have a specialized Freshmen ministry do so because Freshmen have the greatest availability, are looking for connections and have the greatest need for input into their lives.

The first two or three weeks I would have "Freshmen Get Acquainted events". Nearly all freshmen are looking for people with which they can connect. Also, I would announce at those some upcoming events such as, "How to Make it in College", "Wise Study Tips", "Dealing with Conflict and Relationship Breakups", "Cheap Eats and Discounts You Can Use". I would offer each of these at more than one time.

I would not hide the fact that I was a Christian College Minister, but I would not make the seminars or events spiritual in nature. In addition to announcing the upcoming seminars, I would announce a Bible study group and a time that it would meet. Again, I would use a title that had some appeal...."5 Reasons Atheists say Christianity is not True...and What Christians Say". I would go with some Lee Stroebel materials there for help. But, at the start these would just meet once...there would be no sign up commitments.

I would volunteer to speak to groups such as fraternities and sorority plege groups on leadership principles. At every event I had I would have a sign up for a giveaway at the end of the first month of school.

I welcome the thoughts, comments,and ideas from those of you who have started from scratch.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Being Part of the College Ministry Family

I have just attended my class reunion, visited with a friend battling for his life and it has made me reflective. I have many good friends from all periods of my life. But, the family that continues methane the most to me is the at large College Ministry family.

Eleven years ago my wife, Sue, was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. During her treatment, etc I would get messages from Different states and even countries saying, "We are praying for Sue today.". Or, "Our Leadership Team prayed for Sue today at our meeting.". Many of these people sending these messages I did not even know! She is healthy today and has been since then.

One of the things I try to encourage College Ministers to do is connect with College Ministry people from other states. It will grow your knowledge and will probably pray for you when you need it most. One of the things that blessed my life and ministry was being part of a group that started meeting in the summer 20 years ago. College Ministers from 3 or 4 states would get together with mostly just a whiteboard and questions. They are meeting next week in Denton...already missing it. That group expanded my world and grew our ministry at ASU!

Today there is a discussion in Baptist life about whether to do College Ministry BSU/BCM style or by Campus Church Plants. Unfortunately, our College Ministry family is being fractured by some who want it to be an either or thing. Some are saying Campus Church Plant is the only way. Others are saying, BSU/BCM style is the only way. If thats the choice, then I Know which I pick.

BUT, that's a false choice. Where there's no churches, hooray for Campus Church Plants. Where there are a ton of churches and great functioning BSU/BCM ministry....that's the best choice. Let's don't fracture the Campus Ministry family with putting up a false choice!

But, whether you are Baptist, Non-Denom, Methodist, etc., realize your need and benefit from being part of the College Ministry family! Get out and meet, connect with your cousins. Anytime, anywhere, anybody does Christian College Ministry well....the whole family benefits!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What's the Perception of Your Ministry?

Everything you do helps create and affect the perception of your ministry on campus. What is the perception of your ministry on campus? You might be getting better than you may be getting worse than you deserve.

Is there a word of mouth about your ministry on campus? Several things go into perception.

-The students that come to your ministry affect it. When I came to Arkansas State several years ago someone said to me, "Oh, that's the group of students that have food fights in the cafeteria."......not exactly what I hoped our ministry would be known for.

-The quality of your publicity. If you put out printed materials on campus, how do they look and how do they compare with the other such materials students see?

-Other ministries on campus affect the perception of your ministry. This can take several different shapes. Often, campus religious groups are all lumped into one category by those not involved. This can help you or hurt you. Occasionally, one ministry badmouths another ministry. This can be a huge frustration and affect how others see you, if you are the one being bad-mouthed.

How do you change or affect the perception of your ministry?

-Quality always communicates quality....publicity, events, etc.

-Do some campus wide event at the start of school that may be nothing more than for awareness/perception. It could be a cookout in center of campus...a homemade waterslide.....blow up toys.

-Invest in attractive ministry tee shirts that your students will wear during the first couple of weeks of school.

-Help your key student leaders realize their impact as representatives of the ministry.

-If someone is badmouthing your ministry, pray about whether and how to approach them and talk about it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Riding The Horse That Brought You

A Texas Campus Minister used that term when I asked him what he thought was the most important thing you could do. What does "Ride the horse that brought you mean."?

Simply put, it means you got to be you where you are. All of us have specific skills and spiritual gifts that we bring to our ministry, as well our experiences in life and ministry. Our main tool in college Ministry is us!

A few years ago a friend who had a large ministry began to experience a downturn...and a new ministry on campus was booming doing something different. My friend switched to the "new thing" and left much that had been the success of his ministry in the past. Was that progress, expanding the box, or did he unwisely leave the horse that brought him? After 2 or 3 years, my friend left that approach to go on to something else.

Here are some questions to consider:

1. Does the new approach fit my abilities and experience?

2. How will the students we are currently reaching respond to the change?

3. Does this campus need another version of this other ministry?

4. REALLY, why am I considering this change?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Possess and Demonstrate Integrity....You Are the Face of the Ministry!

College Ministers must not just have integrity....we must go out of our way to demonstrate and practice it.

You are the face of your ministry; your response might be,"Oh no, my students are the face of this ministry.". But, it is you that people must believe in and trust. Every successful entity has a face people recognize and trust. Duke Basketball....Coach K. North Point Church.....Andy Stanley.

Students are drawn to what they see or repelled by it. Your integrity is not only important as a moral standard but as a key to your ministry.

-When people see who you are, do they want to support your ministry?

-Will parents want to send their son or daughter to you?

-Will financial supporters trust in your stewardship of the ministry resources?

-Do college administrators trust you?

What people think of a Collegiate Ministry usually comes down to what they think of the leader. YOU are the face of your ministry....whether you like it or not.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Other People Know More Than You Do!

Never believe you know it all in campus ministry. That is a sure sign you do not. Someone has said, "If you think you understand this business, you don't understand this business.". Look for those who hqve more experience. Look for those who serve in similar situations. Look at what other denominations and groups outside your circle do and know. No ministry or Campus Minister has it all figured out. The best College Ministers I know are constant learners!

Monday, June 24, 2013

4 Ways to Enlarge Your College Ministry

1. Develop an "Invite Mentality" among your core group.
-We tend to think this is automatic and it is not. Teach, talk, stress inviting friends. It is the single most important factor in what you can do to reach more students.

2. Increase the number of students in "Ownership Roles"
- the more students who own the ministry as their one, the more they tend to reach out. Ownership Roles are teams, bands, committees, etc.

3. Be Freshmen Specific.
-Freshmen are the most available, looking for connections and in need of help.

4. Create another time for a main event.
-Some don't come because they are not available when you meet. Create a different time. One BCM ministry on a
Large campus had a Thursday night worship with the Campus Minister speaking and a worship band. They added a Tuesday night worship with a band and the Associate Campus Minister speaking.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Collegiate Discipleship Plan....10 Core Standards

A leading College Minister led a conference on discipleship where he impressed those present with the importance of doing discipleship. But, when the conference was over, one of those who attended said, "but how do do it?".

A group of College Ministers as part of the BCNet have put together this framework for collegiate discipleship. Consider this as you think about what you teach and speak on for a year or a student's four years.

10 Core Standards for Baptist Collegiate Discipleship

The Inward or Personal Disciplines:
Bible study
God's Will
The Gospel

The Outward Disciplines:
Transformed Life
Connection to the Body (Church)

Monday, June 17, 2013

The "Secret" to College Ministry Success

A while back I polled 5 highly recognized and appreciated College Ministers for what they thought the one or two things were that set their ministries apart. I learned two things and one of them is what I genuinely believe is THE SECRET to College Ministry success....other then the blessing and work of the Holy Spirit.

The first thing I learned is that none of them said the thing or things that set their ministries apart were the same. It is the reminder there is no perfect one way. There are the variables of resources, different campus settings, individual gifts and abilities, and resources that do make every situation different.

But, there was one thing that came through loud and clear and it is, I believe, the secret to College Ministry success. That secret is, Have a plan and keep working that plan! You may tweak and adjust, but you have a very specific plan that everything you do is developing, implementing and undergirding that plan. Each of the five polled demonstrated this secret again and again....they keep working their plan. They don't change much and when they is for a very specific reason.

Things I Do That Make a Difference

A while back I ask 5 top, much respected College Ministers what they did they felt really made a difference in their ministries. Here are their answers:

College Minister#1. "Invest in a small group of freshmen each year (to stay connected with upcoming generations of students, trends, etc.)".

College Minister #2. Participation in state-wide meetings/retreats/missions trips

College Minister #3. "I try to use encouragement on a daily basis with students. This sounds simple, but it is a very powerful part of leadership."

College Minister #4. "Focus on people...not programs. Students get enough of why weren't you at...or why didn't you..."

College Minister #5. "We highly encourage our upperclassmen to live in dorms for ministry purposes."

What is the one thing YOU do that makes a difference? Have you identified it? You should to make sure you are making the most of it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Getting Students Out of Town

Some years ago I asked five of the top College Ministers I knew to tell me "the one thing" for them as a College Minister. What was the one thing they thought was most important in their large and strong ministries. One said he thought getting students out of town on missions was the most important thing.

Roger and Rose Bear are legendary College Ministers at Indiana State. Rose wrote this in their June newsletter:

"One of the best things about BCM is our summer missions program. There are great things about short term mission trips. We do one every year. However this experience does not begin to compare with that of summer missions. On a short term mission trip, you're with your friends and an adult leader who is taking care of you, and you're there for a week or two. When you are a summer missionary you go alone into the unknown and have to depend on God in a much deeper way. You stay long enough for the excitement to wear off. You stay long enough to build relationships. You stay long enough to experience the joys and heartaches of ministry. Over the decades God has used BCM summer missions to call out generations of ministers and missionaries. I would not be a missionary in Indiana today if I had not been a summer missionary in Rhode Island in 1095 and Nebraska in 1976."

Through the years I have seen God use missions experiences to call students to ministry. Are you making sure your students are challenged and hear the opportunities of missions service for them? Early this fall maybe they need to hear testimonies from this summer.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Will The Traditional BSU/BCM Ministry Model Continue?

A friend in another state asked me that question today. His church is next to a college campus and he sees the need and he has heard the discussion of some leaders advocating college campus church plants as the way to go.

Simply put, my answer was yes. Where there is no viable church to reach out to students, a campus church plant is a great possibility. Where there are strong churches, the traditional BSU/BCM model seems best. It is the College Ministry for many churches and strengthens them as it develops their students and sends them back into those churches. The BSU/BCM Campus Minister serves as a resource to these different churches.

One concern expressed by some is, Will students who attend a campus church plant develop a continued commitment to varied age churches after college. The thing we have learned for sure in recent years is that one type church does not fit all. It follows that one type college ministry is not the exact answer for all college campuses. Even "traditional BSU/BCM models" vary on different type campuses.

Some feared that the decision by the North Carolina Baptist State Convention to do away with their BCM Directors and BCM Centers might start a trend for other state conventions. It seems the opposite has been true. The North Carolina decision has caused some state conventions to consider their college ministry commitment and have stated that BSU/BCM is a top priority for them!

Some Baptist leaders are advocating campus church plants as THE way to do College Ministry, but many of these have not done College Ministry.

Things You HATE to Hear Students Say

-I won't serve this year; I want to give someone else that opportunity.

-I'm having some real doubts and questions about my faith, so I am going to drop out of the college ministry and church till I get them resolved.

-I am leaving this church or college ministry because the band is better at......

-Doctrine doesnt matter as long as you are sincere.

-I am active in my college ministry, so there is no need to go to church.

-I texted my girlfriend or boyfriend it was God's will that we break up.

-I take the summer off from church cause there are no other students around.

-I pick the church that has the latest Sunday morning service.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I Goofed! Help, if You Sent me a Resume.

Someone sent me a resume in the last few days looking for a College Ministry opportunity in Florida. I goofed and it was accidentally deleted.

If that was you, would you please resend it? I apologize.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Some Summer Task Reminders

1. Is there some student that is around for the summer you should spend some extra time with....that one with great potential or one who is especially needy?

2. Read. Put some extra stuff in your tank!

3. If you are a campus based Minister with a does the outside look....yard mowed, edged, bushes trimmed? More people see the outside of your building in the summer than see the inside. I drive by lots of religious centers in the summer that are embarrassing! Often there are more parents and potential students on campus now.

4. Call someone you can learn from or go see them.

5. Attend a summer workshop for Campus Ministers like the one meeting at FBC Denton or get 3 or 4 others together for a day or two for your own brainstorming and brain picking.

6. Take a day away by yourself with the Lord.

7. Go meet some of the people in different offices on campus.

8. Take flowers or a treat to a secretary or janitor that has been particularly helpful to you.

9. Schedule a lunch with the other Campus Ministers on your campus.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jen Hatmaker on the Today Show and Thinking outside Your Norm

Jen Hatmaker was on the Today show this morning being interview in regard to her blog that went viral. She wrote that she might be the worst end of school mom ever. What you might not know is that she and her husband are church planters in Texas. And, it's one of those churches that has homeless people and well heeled financial people together...crazy for sure!

I love Jen Hatmaker! Let me explain....I was in a meeting evaluating a Baptist program she had been on and some people said she said some things they really didn't agree with and possibly we should not use her again. She said some things I didn't agree with...but I was still thinking about them and loved the fact maybe some of those students who had not liked or agreed with what she said were still thinking about it.

Since I have been in Collegiate Ministry since Moses was a freshman, people often ask me what has changed. One of the things that has changed is that we used to think students ought to hear things they wouldn't automatically agree with and would have to think about. Now, we seem to be afraid for them to think about what they believe and why.

There are some people I agree with 100% that it seems aren't doing half as much in the kingdom as it seems the Hatmakers are. I agree with me more than I do Jen Hatmaker, but I think she is probably a better follower of Jesus than I am. Plus, I like seeing Christians on TV that act like normal people!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Being Professional as a College Minister

A while back someone who had occasional contact with College Ministers was asked to describe the typical one. Their answer was "sloppy and disorganized". As a whole, I don't think that is true....but I do think that is a more common perception than we realize. Since College Ministers exist and must thrive in a college student world, it is easy to not shift gears when we are meeting with and working with others

Three reasons you want to be viewed as professional:
1. College administrators can open and close doors to you and your ministry which is partly affected by how they view you.

2. Potential donors want to give their money to someone they believe is capable and trustworthy. Why should they think their money will be used in the most efficient way if you are perceived as disorganized?

3. Parents must trust their son or daughter to you.

Some simple actions in being professional:
1. Return phone calls, emails and Facebook messages. I would go one step more and say, do it within 24 hours.

2. Casual, funky clothes are good for student events, but meetings with parents, pastors and school officials call for more professional type dress.

3. Acknowledge that you received a message or requested information. If it is an email or Facebook message, a simple ok or thanks is enough...tks works too. An ignored message sends a negative message.

4. Write thank you notes to people who send you money, volunteer or speak at one of your events.

5. Double check any letters that you send out for spelling and professional style and appearance (Remember spellcheck will let you down.).