Thursday, January 31, 2013

Who Are Some People Doing College Ministry Right?

Who is doing it right or big? That's two questions that come up regularly. Some think all they have to do is copy them and it's the short road to College Ministry success. Others realize no ministry can be exactly duplicated somewhere else, but you can learn from someone else's experience. The wheel doesn't have to be re-invented every time.

Here are some Baptist Collegiate Ministries that have a reputation for doing it both well and big. If you are not Baptist, I would love to hear your nominations. Since I travel in the Baptist Collegiate world, that is mostly what I know or hear about.

Virginia Tech, Darrell Cook, Campus Minister
Tennessee Tech, John Aaron Matthew, Campus Minister
Iowa State/The Salt Company (NOT Bible Belt and large)
Mississippi State, Michael Ball, Campus Minister
LSU, Steve Masters, Campus Minister
Texas A&M, Joel Bratcher, Campus Minister

Here are some churches that have a reputation for doing it well and big, but still tied to a traditional church, not a campus church primarily for students.

First Baptist, Denton, TX
Keystone Fellowship, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
First Baptist, Lubbock, TX
University Presbyterian, Seattle

I have not visited all these personally. So, some are listed from reputation and hearsay. Again, love to hear places you recommend from which we all can learn.

Monday, January 28, 2013

College Ministry Websites

I recently spent some time looking at different local campus ministry websites. They really vary a great deal. Here's my observations.

Pictures - pictures are the best thing as they tell lots of stories. Use them to show the different events. That tells way more than you can write and certainly that students would read. Pictures tell someone if someone that looks like them might be there. They tell them if it looks collegiate casual or stuffy churchy, etc. I'm not sure what to say about the one where pictures were upside down.

Over-Used Words:

Out of Date Announcements - I was amazed at the number that had announcements about events during the fall semester. I guess those ministries don't have anything during the Spring Semester.

2 Things that were not always obviously clear:
When and what is your main weekly event?
Where is it?

For those that have a Center, I would suggest an outside picture of your facility that would help students locate it in addition to address or instructions.

I am aware that some of my super techie friends would say that their students follow twitter and don't look at the, why do you have up an out of date website or poor impress pastors, alums or parents?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

College Ministry Ideas from New England

I was privileged to spend Wednesday with the Baptist folks who do College Ministry in New England. I was impressed with what they are doing and most of them are raising their own salaries to be there and do it. We passed a sheet around and asked them to write down one idea or thing the had done. They are the experts about serving in those type situations. So, here's their jotted down list.

Buy a "large" thank you card from Hallmark and allow students to say thanks to housekeeping staff or cafeteria workers.

Give away packs of gum(Wrigley) with a business card with ministry info and worship gathering invite.

Bathroom cleaning outreach: arm small groups of same gender students with cleaning products and send them into a dorm in which they live to clean dorm bathrooms by knocking on doors and talking to students. Hear their stories and share your own.

Linking with other Evangelical Christian groups across Boston for an annual retreat and annual training event for international student ministry.

Rides to church. Schedule volunteers from local churches to pick up students that otherwise have no way to church.

Many hours one on one. Rides for students to church and for other needs. Initiate more one on one meetin with other campus ministers-hopefully for more cooperation. Meeting students first of semester- potluck lunches in housing off campus.

Get to know the janitors - he who holds the keys controls the kingdom.

Hang out at the Student Center. Good impromptu conversations with random students and snack bar staff.

One on one with student - "You pick the restaurant and I pick up the check.". Conversation building.

We have students over to our house for dinner once a month. We home-make a quality meal, something different each month.

One week a month we hold an open discussion where students can bring seeker friends to ask questions to special guests and other students who are Christians. It is held at the same time as our weekly meeting so we can invite students to join us next week.

Monday, January 21, 2013

College Ministry for Dummies

I love the "For Dummies...." series of books. They are simple, basic and helpful. Here is my version of College Ministry for Dummies.....

Do what YOU are capable of doing. Don't just copy someone else.

Try 2 or 3 different approaches to see what works best on that campus.

Learn from others, but establish your own unique thing.

Don't try to be everything to everybody.

Your style attracts certain students.

Be wisely generous in your spending at the start of a semester.

Find the places or events on campus where you can most easily meet the type students with which you are trying to connect.

Make friends with college administrators.

Match your events and planning to the campus calendar and seasons.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fictional Girlfriends and Your Collegiate Talks for this Semester

The many stories about a famous college athlete having a fictional girlfriend from an on-line relationship is a huge reminder that as you speak to your students this semester, there are some basics you always need to address.

One of the temptations for those who speak at a weekly collegiate event is to try to be really cool and always have some brand new, never thought of before topic. But, this story out of the headlines is a reminder how we must always be speaking to some basic issues...
-How to do healthy relationships (Bigger need than ever???)

-seeking, accepting, receiving forgiveness

-knowing how God has gifted you and calls you

-being the unique person God has call you to be

I think there has been a subtle shift in recent years where College Ministers see themselves and others see them as preachers rather than teachers. Teachers impart basic skills...not just inspire. Don't lose your teacher side. What are some topics/issues you need to address this semester.....and every semester?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Is Baptist Collegiate Ministry a Para-church Ministry?

One of the nice folks who follows my blog asked why I considered Baptist Collegiate Ministry not a para-church ministry? So, if you aren't Baptist or don't care, just tune this one out.

The BCM ministry or BSU in Mississippi or BSM in Texas, etc is a ministry of the local churches. The director or College Minister is an employee of that state's Convention and is meant to be the face of those churches on the campus.

The Director/College Minister serves as a resource to those churches. Some of what the BCM here does can serve as as an example:
-Provides names of incoming Baptist freshmen for churches to contact prior to the start of school in the fall.
-Has local church reps present at start of school freshmen events where the churches can highlight their ministries.
-Invites and encourages the Churches to have reps at their weekly lunch programs to meet and know students (many who are not believers or not connected to a church).
-For many years the BCM utilized local church college ministers to lead seminars at the fall retreat to provide them exposure. This stopped only when churches decided to each do their own retreat.
-Helps students be aware of part-time positions in area churches.
-works at coordinating church and BCM calendar.
-Coordinates local churches providing a get-acquainted event such as a Progressive Supper for freshmen who visit local collegiate churches all in one evening.
-Has display that lists local churches with their services and a picture of each in their Campus Center. Also provides an area where churches may display their promotional materials.
-Utilizes local church College Ministers in a panel at a Lunch program early in the fall semester where they are introduced to 200-300 students.
-Does no Sunday or Wednesday night programing.
-Requires those who serve in leadership roles to be active in a local church.
-Within Bible studies and worship events speaks to the value and need for a local church.
-works with and coordinates local church interaction and ministry with International students (such as a Thanksgiving Dinner for 300 plus Ingernationals).

I am sorry that this list is long and cumbersome. This is not to say campus para-church groups have no value....just that is not what the BCM ministries are...they are a ministry of the churches at work on campus. My BCM Director friends will be quick to point out many things I left out like Disciple Now weekend teams, etc. But, you get the idea.

Monday, January 14, 2013

"Biblical Basis for College Ministry?"

"I don't see College Ministry in the Bible.". I think somebody said that to me once. I think his point was, the Bible talks about the church. I don't see church vans in the Bible either. But, I do see lots of things in the Bible that College Ministry is all about.
-Jesus preached to and taught large crowds made up of both true followers and the merely curious.

-Jesus invested deeply in a few for leadership.

-Jesus went to a wide variety of people.

-Jesus said don't stop those not with us. This paricularly resonated with me as I wrestled with my frustration of what some other Campus Christian organizations were doing!

-Paul engaged people of the intellectual community in open discussion.

-Some whom Jesus helped turned away.

-Jesus fed the 5,000. This is obviously the first BCM Lunch program. Notice only a few cleaned up after it was over....that has continued to be true through the years.

I will leave it up to you to find church vans in the Bible.

Odds and Ends on Monday

Jim Whaley who pastors a campus church in Ohio needs help with some students filling out a survey for a writing project he is doing:

Chad Logan has a good blog on campus based ministries and church based working together:

I only had two additional suggestions to my Collegiate Ministry predictions for 2013:
-One friend said that perhaps thenanswer to State Conventions cutting back on full time College Ministers was for 3 or 4 churches in that area to go together on the salary. The only problem with thatnsuggestion is that it is too practical and makes too much sense.

-another responder said part of the problem in cutbacks to campus based ministries is that many churches view Baptist Campus Ministries as para-church. That has always puzzled me! I would mail 600 mailing labels of incoming Baptist freshmen to a church for their use and they would call me para-church.

The Baptist Collegiate Ministries of the Southeastern Conference are doing a conference retreat this weekend in Alabama. Good idea! Remember many years ago when Max Barnett at the University of Oklahoma had the vision to start sending out BCM directors to other schools in their conference. Any thoughts you should be thinking in regard to your conference?

Gabe Lyons has a good article on the Louie Giglio story..."Bullied on the President's Stage".

Statement of the week that puzzles me. A gay activist said Louie should not pray at the Inauguration because "it should be more inclusive". Huh?

That's it...just Monday. But, many campuses starting today. Spring Semester kick-off ideas?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Louie Giglio's Withdrawal and Speaking to and About Homosexuality with Students

The news that Louie Giglio had been invited to pray at President Obama's inauguration has been quickly followed by Louie's withdrawal due to criticism of a sermon he preached on homosexuality 15 or 20 years ago.

In the statement that Louie released he said, "It is likely that my participation and the prayer I might offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration."

We are at unusual times in our society when disagreement or speaking to a moral belief is labeled by some as hate speech or inappropriate. First, we must never deal with or work with only those with whom we have TOTAL agreement. I don't even totally agree with those I love the most.

I have a former student and friend who is gay. He has taken disagreement with me over my belief that religious groups on college campuses must be free to determine the standards for their elected leaders. I say that is freedom of religion whether he or I like their standards, as long as their actions do not harm another. I am not into snake handling, but would hold to the right of a campus Religious group to say their leaders had to believe in and practice snake long as I don't have to be anywhere close by!

He said it wasn't worth he and I fussing about because today's young people are much more open on the gay issue and all that will change in the next few years.

That brings me to what I think are some important principles we must hold to and practice today as we live in our society and minister on college campuses.

1. Tone and language matters. In speaking to and about what we believe are moral principles, we must be loving and we must work at clarity.

2. We must respect others beliefs and ideas, if we want them to respect ours. Respect and agreement are not the same.

3. We must remember and remind others that respectful disagreement is not hate speech.
My gay friend has often disagreed with me, but never been hateful.

4. As today's students have different feelings about homosexuality, we should not back away from what we believe to be right biblical stands, but we must address them carefully. One way we do that is by not giving the impression that one wrong is way more wrong than another. All sin is equal in it's "wrongness" but different in consequences.

5. We must continue to remind students of an old truth....feelings aren't wrong; it is the actions we take that determines the right or wrong.

I am sure that this has all been poorly and inadequately said. But, we must stand up for the right for people to hold to their beliefs and express them respectfully without condemnation. AND, we don't have to agree with everything everyone else says and believes to work together for the common good.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

College Ministry Predictions

1. College Ministry cutbacks will continue.
-As churches and denominations wrestle with short finances, they will continue to cut back in college ministry. Why? Cuts are often not made strategically, but by what cuts cause the least blow back. Secondly, we in College Ministry often are not doing all we should to tell our story.

2. There will be even less cooperation and more competition between campus based and church based college ministries...even those in the same denomination.
-Cooperation is not the DNA of our society these days. Plus, the emphasis on church planting has helped popularize the idea that planting a church on a campus is the only way to go.

3. State-wide denominations will grow in their expectation of College Ministers to spend more time being "Area Church Consultants" and less time doing College Ministry.
-This in turn will lead to difficulty in hiring top College Ministers as they feel new expectations stretch them too thin or short the campus ministry aspect.

4. College Ministers will become more and more diverse in their thinking as to strategy and approach.
-This is both good and bad!

5. More money can be raised from individuals for college ministry because donors are more and more attracted to "Cause Giving".

These predictions were made two years ago and are only slightly up-dated.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Confessions of a One Hour Reader

I had a horrible high school English teacher! She demanded that we speak correctly and that we had read every word of any book for which we did a report.

I don't know about you, but there are lots of books I think I SHOULD or OUGHT to read. I pile them on the corner of my desk and while they lay there, I read a book or books I want to read. At some point, I either force my way through them or in many cases get rid of those books....cause I don't have the time or will to wade all the way through them.

First Confession: I now give those books one hour. I scan through and read the parts that particularly interest me or I go through and find their main points to jot down. On each of my "one hour books", I keep a sheet of paper where I write down the main points or interesting quotes. Then, I stick that sheet in a folder I keep of my one hour books.

Second Confession: yesterday I did one of my "one hour books" and it was better than I thought, so I gave it two hours....might even give it 30 more minutes today..but that is all.

I find I am learning more than when I just let those books sit on the corner of my desk. I don't feel guilty anymore about not reading them.

Try might benefit from it too.

Oh, just one thing, PLEASE don't tell Mrs. Jones. I still wouldn't want to disappoint her!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Developing The IT Factor as a College Minister

The "It Factor"...that thing that makes college students follow a College Minister is RESPECT. How do you get or grow respect?

I was blown away by the number of hits and re-posts my blog indicating respect was the "It Factor"....not coolness, not charisma, not great speaking ability. One of the hard distinctions we have to make is the difference in what will draw a crowd and what God uses to bring about life change.

I like fact, I think part of what we must be measured against is whether we are reaching a number of students proportionate to the size campus on which we serve. But, that is not the end in change....what are your students doing AFTER they leave college and your ministry. Are they honoring the Lord and serving somewhere in a church? So, if RESPECT is a huge factor in God changing students' lives thru your do you develop or grow it?

1. Time. Students have to see you live out who you are. There is a reason that almost all of the large college ministries have a long time leader in place. That person has been there long enough to earn respect.

2. Don't just be one of the gang! Students have buddies. You aren't called or paid to be their buddy. You are to be a friend who has a different life perspective. A buddy won't tell another buddy something that person doesn't want to hear. It may stop them from being buddies. As God's person on that campus, you must sometimes say to students things they don't want to hear.

3. Some will leave. Realize that standing on principle will sometimes cause students to leave your ministry. I went through a large experience of this twice. A stand on some principles caused students to leave our ministry....both times we grew back larger...once very quickly and once over a little longer. I wish I could promise that will happen every time. I can't....but I think it is part of the fabric of respect. There are certain things you stand for. Being principled and hard headed aren't the the same though.

4. Stop trying to impress you! They know you aren't 21...don't try to act like it. Ever notice how some College Ministers try to disguise their age?

5. Things College Ministers with the "It Factor" do:
-Enourage students.
-Affirm the gifts abilities and potential you see in their life.
-Give them feedback. What are they doing that is working. How and what can they learn from their failures?
-Develop and train them. Don't just tell them to serve. Show and teach them how.

Respect doesn't come instantly...if it does, it probably isn't really respect.