Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are Finances Moving Baptists Toward a Different College Ministry Philosophy?

My previous blog was "Issues in Baptist Life Affecting College Ministry". As I stated, as a result in cutbacks in finances, there have been cutbacks in College Ministry.....not necessarily just College Ministry. Some are saying that the more "Intern type positions" may need to go the route of raising their own salaries. This is the pattern of Campus Crusade which has staff on 200 plus campuses. Crusade does not operate buildings on or near campus while most Southern state Baptist Collegiate Ministries have owned and operated campus centers. One question is, "Should we do away with our buildings"? This is not a position I advocate. But, I can share those thoughts another time.

Following are thoughts, questions and things to consider as we debate changes brought on by finances. My primary thought is that we should make decisions strategically and not just do automatically what is easiest and cheapest.
Here are a variety of thoughts to go into this discussion:

Almost all large College Ministries have a long term Campus Minister and or staff.
-The less stability we have the less effective our ministries will be.

Campus Crusade has generally chosen to have ministries on mainly "name" or large campuses with larger staffs. Baptists have favored being on every public college and university in a state where possible with one or two staffers. Should Baptists change to a more targeting of specific campuses?

When raising money for campus ministry and salaries, it is generally easier to raise money related to a "name campus".

Campus Ministries commonly accused of unethical behavior usually are staffed by young right out of school staffers who raise their own salaries and have great enthusiasm with little training.

The largest Campus Ministries in the country generally have 10 to 20 staffers. This can only be accomplished with staffers raising their own salaries.

Baptist Student Centers built on or adjacent to a campus have communicated stability and often helped the ministry partner with the administration more.

Some non-denominational ministries only keep staffers on a campus as long as they are seeing significant results. Baptists have traditionally stayed on a campus regardless of the size of the response.

Baptists have their Campus Ministers to serve and help local church ministries as part of their responsibility If they raise their own salary, will they stay as tied to all the local churches?

You see no answers...lots of questions...also, I know more about Baptist ministries than, I am real open to hearing from some of you who serve in different situations or denominations.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Issues in Baptist Life for College Ministry

I know all that follow this blog are not Baptist, but with Baptists being the largest College Ministry in America, whatever Baptists do will have some affect on College Ministry as a whole.

The cuts in funding in Baptist life is taking a toll on Collegiate Ministry. As one observer says, "The cuts are not aimed at Collegiate Ministry; we are just collateral damage". One southern state is doing a study of their College Ministry and some guess that a major consideration for them is doing away with Baptist Student Centers located on state university campuses.

In some areas, the Baptist Collegiate Ministries have been strengthened by the hiring of short term one to two year workers to serve as Assistant Campus Ministers in outreach and Freshmen Ministry. Typically, these have been paid "Intern type" salaries with no benefits such as insurance. Now, as a result of the change in health care laws, there is the feeling that these people must be provided health insurance. Some say that they cannot and so will do away with the positions. Others say the answer is to make those young staffers "independent contractors" who raise their own salaries. In Baptist life these type positions are called "Mission Service Corps". Traditionally, these type positions have only functioned outside the Bible Belt where Baptist finances are lean.

One of the differences in philosophy through the years in Campus Crusade and Baptist Collegiate Ministry has been the Baptists building and maintaining campus BCM Centers while Crusade either used school facilities or churches. Another difference has been Baptists having their Campus Ministry personnel paid a salary by the local or state ministry while each Crusade staffer raised their own salary.

There have been reasons for each of these approaches. One of the key questions now is, will philosophy drive the coming decisions or simply finances make the decisions?

Next Blog: Some strengths and weaknesses of each philosophy. Your thoughts are welcome as we navigate these new days!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Prayer and Larger College Ministries

The leaders of some of the largest College Ministries in the country indicate that anturn for them came when they really began to pray for their campus and their ministry to that campus. Theyndid not pray to be large. They prayed to see their campus clearly and ton how tonconnect to what the Lord helped them see.

What and how are you praying for your campus and your ministry? Some thoughts:
- pray for the ability to see the unique needs of your campus.

- pray for discernment about what students to invest in deeply.

- pray for an awareness of what areas of campus or what groups you might reach out to.

- pray for administrators.

- pray for wisdom in terms of how to best invest your time in ministry and family and for balance.

I likely never prayed enough or wisely enough.

Friday, February 22, 2013

5 Truths About Larger Collegiate Ministries

1. The weekly large group meeting will average 50 to 80 students per staffer.
-Many of the largest college ministries have as many as 15 to 20 staffers.

2. The Director has long term service on that campus and often a staff that has long tenure.

3. They work at their large group event being something their students want to invite their friends to attend
and they teach their students to invite others.

4. They continually stress and talk who they are and what they are about to their students.

5. They build deeply and continually into the lives of their student leaders.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nothing Inspiring, Quotable or Life Changing...Just Info Cards!

Some people blog wonderfully inspiring things and get quoted on you know, I just do dull old every day college ministry nuts and bolts. So, here goes (nothing quotable).

Every brainstorming Whiteboard session I have gone to sooner or later gets around to, "How do you get students to fill out Info Cards?". Most believe that if you have a student give you some information about name and contact information, you can more likely connect to them and work at connecting them to the Ministey.

1. Put an Info Card on every seat every program. Or, do it the first couple of weeks and announce that you will draw out of the filled out cards for a gift card at the favorite student eating place.

2. Have a Welcome Table at the entrance staffed by some of your most outgoing students where they greet, do a name tag for each person AND ask each person they don't recognize to fill out a card, if they have not.

3. Have baskets at the doors that contain Info Cards with a catchy sign.

4. Spread out Info Cards across Lunch Program tables within reach of each seat.

5. If you have a dollar or 2 dollar lunch program, tell a new person theirs is free with a filled out Info Card.

6. We had a really attractive Lunch Team leader who would stand right by the food line and hand them one, if she did not recognize them...we got a lot of guys that way.

7. Send a sign-in sheet down each row of each program...everyone signs, so the new people do also. It becomes part of the also know who has missed the last couple of weeks.

8. After your worship event begins, have your Outreach or Greeter team set up a table by the main exit with Info Cards and pens spread all over it. At the end just say, "If you are new and enjoyed being here, stop by the table at the door and let us know who you are.

9. Comment Cards...some ministries ask each student present to fill out a Cooment card about the Event, message, etc. There is a place for new folks to give some info.

About The Cards:

1. Limit it to the most basic info you need. The more info requested, the less likely they are to fill it out.

2. Tape a pencil to each card. How many times have we seen students looking for a pen or pencil to fill one out?

3. Send a personal message to each person who fills out a card...text, Facebook, email, whatever.

The Number 1 SECRET to getting students to fill out Info cards: a person (student or staff) visit with them personally and then ask them to take a minute and fill it out and then you taking it back. Yes; filled out cards
often walk out the door.

See, there is nothing inspiring, quotable or life changing in this blog.

Friday, February 15, 2013

I Dis-like Green Rooms!!!

There are some terms that have become popular in Christian circles, I must admit, I don't like. Green Room may be the most "Un-liked" one on my part!

Being a Drama minor in college, I know a Green Room is where a "performer" waits before he or she goes on stage. I don't like it in Christian terms because of the idea of seeing a speaker or singer/worship leader at a Christian event as a performer. It somehow seems to elevate you above those with whom you are trying to share scripture, a word from the Lord and worship.

I don't like the fact that you don't rub elbows with the students before and after you speak to them. How do they know you care about them individually and how do you answer their questions after it is over, if you have run back to the Green Room after your "performance"? Of course, I was frustrated when a student would come in and hug me (that was never a frustration) and then tell me they had been sick with the flu all day! But, more times than not that moment was part of what helped them hear what I had to say when my turn came to speak.

Students see too many performers today. They must see people live Jesus faith with them, so what they say has validity! Yes; I have been in one or two Green Rooms, but over-all I would rather hug and sit with the students before and after. Trade Secret: sometimes I run to the bathroom and scrub my hands after the "Flu Hug"!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Saying Thanks to Financial Supporters

Those that know me know I am absolutely freaky about the necessity of College Ministers writing personal thank you notes to contributors. A long time ago when I attended a course in fund raising, they said to remember that the most likely person to give you a gift is someone who has already given you one!

Over the years as Sue and I have made a gift to some other College Ministry, I was surprised at how often we heard nothing back. We would wonder if they had gotten it and would not know until the check cleared. We certainly did not know what they used it for or if it mattered. Some of you would say my problem is that I was looking for credit and praise. Two things: First, recently someone close to me sent a large December 31 gift and when they recently were reconciling their check book saw it had not cleared the bank. It had been lost in the mail...Campus Ministry had not received it...they needed it. Second, people today want to give their money where they know it matters and does some good.

Here are 4 Examples of College Ministers Saying Thanks and staying Connected:

1. The alumni at Virginia Tech BCM play a large role in the ministry. In addition to giving to help support staff, they do a work weekend at the BCM Center (you know Engineers!). When an alum has a baby, Darrell Cook sends them a onesie with a Virginia Tech BCM logo on it!

2. Tim Stewart, formerly BCM Director at South Carolina, every so often would send a box of South Carolina memoralbia and a tee shirt from their fall retreat to generous donors.

3. Kevin Cox and his wife Amy serve at Clarke College in Masschusetts and raise their own salaries. Sue and I gave a small check to them early on and they sent a thank you with a picture of Kevin and Amy holding a handmade sign that said, "Thanks Sue and Arliss!". That wins a prize for unique and personal.

4. Roger and Rose Bear serve at Indiana State and are some of those who now raise their own salaries due to the funding cuts made by the North America Mission Board. They send out a wonderful monthly newletter with great stories of things that are happening AND, Rose always writes a one sentence personal greeting on it. Experts will tell you a handwritten PS will be quickly and often first read. I wrote my Senator about an issue recently...the letter I got back was almost certainly a form letter, but it had a handwritten PS on it. He knows!

How are you saying thanks? People today are hit up for more causes than they can give to....most don't want praise...but, they do want to give where it matters and makes a difference! A College Minister friend got a call from a donor recently asking if he could come by and pick up a check...they had been generous before...he thought it would likely be a check for $2,000 to $3,000. It was for $50,000. Wonder how he said thanks?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

College Students and Calling

My pastor recently pointed me toward John Ortberg's article, "Call Forwarding" expressing concern about fewer young people responding to God's call to vocational ministry.

In the last few years in listening to college students, I heard many expressing a sense of God's call, but very few were sensing a call to pastor a church...most were talking about youth or college ministry. But, those who sensed a calling to pastor a church almost always spoke of planting a church....not going to an established church.

I think part of the problem lies in the fact that we don't talk about calling much anymore....we are trying really hard to relate to those who are turned off to church and we are dealing with so many Christians who seem to have little knowledge of scripture, that calling just doesn't make it into our talks (College Ministers do more "talks" than sermons.).

Some years ago a friend who worked for one of our mission agencies said their experience was that more young people sensed a call to missions in small churches rather than in large churches.

Here are 5 things you might make sure is happening in your College Ministry:

1. Talk about calling regularly.
-How does one feel called?
-how does one know it is God's call or will?
-What are different types of ministry God calls people to? When I first sensed God's call to ministry, I had
Not been to college yet and had never seen a College Minister.

2. Help students know that usually God's call and the specifics of it are worked out over time and through a
variety of experiences. It usually doesn't arrived fully baked!

3. Work with those who express a sense or a question of calling.
-I have seen many who expressed a sense of calling not follow through on it and it seemed more that they just
never had any help in figuring it out. So, they called it some thing they did as a dumb kid.
-Help them process it and see what some options are that might fit their gifts.

4. Give them opportunities to serve.
-One of the ways God leads us to the specifics is through our different experiences
-Help them see if some part-time ministry position might be a step in discernment.
-BUT, walk with them through the part-time experience of seeing first hand that God's people sometimes act
petty and selfish. Sometimes idealism crashing into the reality of working with real people can be jolting!
-Ask them to do plain old simple things that need doing.

5. Work with their parents when necessary.
-Sometimes the biggest roadblock for a college student responding to God's call is their deacon father or
Women's ministry mother who have seen ministers mistreated and poorly paid.

One GREAT resource is Jeff Iorge's book, IS God Calling Me? It is not long and it is super practical. I have
Given one to each student who asked about calling ever since it was published. He is President of Golden Gate Seminary, but it is not a pointy head is aimed right at where your students are.

Why do students in smaller churches express a greater sense of calling to missions....perhaps their secret is individual attention.

petty and selfish, etc. Some have turned away from ministry when their idealism crashed into reality.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The 4 Laws of Announcements

If you have ever been to many Christian events, you have likely been through agony during announcements. As a result, some don't do them....but how do those there know what you want and need them to know. Announcements are like medicine; you have to know when and how to give them and be careful not to over-dose.

The 4 Laws of Announcements:

1. Make no more than 4 announcements!
The more you make...the less people hear. If one announcement is THE key announcement, do it at a different
And separate time.

2. The person making the announcements needs to know and understand what they are announcing.
All of us have heard someone read announcements off a sheet in the worlds worst monotone. Or, we have
Heard someone "promoting" an event that obviously didn't have a clue what it was.

3. The announcements should be such that a first time attendee understands what is being announced.
Often, the announcements seem to be in "insider code". Only a few in the crowd understand what it is
about. It adds to the discomfort and the "maybe I don't belong here feeling".

4. The announcements should not become the main event.
Sometimes in our attempt to make the announcements palatable, they get out of control and take over
the program. Several years ago, I was speaking for a weekend collegiate event on a campus. They had
decided to have me come and speak on Thursday night at their large group event with the hopes that would
attract more to the weekend. We had a provocative title that had been widely promoted. The place was
packed with lots of new people present. Their new "Announcement Team" got up to do a skit that had
the announcements in it. They went on for 20 plus minutes. After it, the Campus Minister got up
and said the program would run an extra 30 minutes long that night in order for them to hear me speak.

Monday, February 4, 2013

3 Most Common Reasons Ministers Quit College Ministry

Several years ago a friend left College Ministry. When asked why he left he said," I still loved College Ministry, I just hated college students". That happens to a few, but not most. I am addressing those that leave still loving both the Ministry and students and feel it was their calling.

3. FINANCES - both personal and ministry finances drive College Ministers away. As one College Minister's wife told me, "I would not want my family to know that our kids are on welfare insurance". Often, College Ministers can go to a church staff and instantly get a significant raise and get insurance provided. Lack of finances cause personal and marital stress. On the Ministry side, trying to do much with little is a huge killer. One friend went to a large deep south campus because they indicated the ministry was small and shouldn't be. After a year, the ministry was growing and those providing the finances cut the budget by one third. The ministry continued to grow and they cut the budget again by one third. My friend left College Ministry.

2. FAILURE - More correctly said, a FEELING of failure. College Ministry is hard and getting harder due to changing church dynamics, cuts in funding and increasing hostility by University administrations. Often, with the resources they have, etc the College Minister is doing a super job....but they see the needs and opportunities and
don't feel what they are doing is adequate. Often, this is false guilt or related to inadequate emotional support...which leads to what I believe is the #1 reason people leave College Ministry...

1. FEELING ALONE - when you feel you are the only one who cares, it is hard to keep on! Having an emotional support base is huge and serving without one is devastating. I would submit that my friend who left when the ministry was growing after that was what they asked and the budget was being cut, felt she was the only one who cared! All of us need someone who cares and sees what we are doing as valuable. If it is not built into where you serve, you must work at building an emotional support base!