Thursday, March 28, 2013

More on Making Changes in Your College Ministry

I have received sone good questions regarding my previous post that now is the time to "try out" a possible change in your ministry. Then, you know more if or how you might implementement it this fall.

One person indicated that his students were not in favor of the change because of their schedules or willingness to give more time to the ministry. That's a tough call. It may come down to the question,"Are you happy with your ministry as it this it?". If not, then you may decide to take the risk. I find most students aren't as excited about change as most people think. Sometimes, students want the ministry to stay small as that is more comfortable for them.

I am not in favor of being dishonest with your students....but, you may want to experiment with something new between now and the end of school without telling your students ALL you are thinking or considering. Or, it could be that you try something that is not the whole new concept, but will give you some glimpse of what the change might provide.

Remember, one thing you can do is go to another campus and see what and how they already do something you are considering doing. It might mean missing your weekly event once...but could put you miles ahead. It doesn't have to be someone just like you or your denomination. You don't have to agree with their theology to study and learn from their methodology. I once drove 2 and 1/2 hours and slipped into the back of another denomination's campus worship....I got busted...someone recognized me, but I saw what I needed to see.

Remember, you must listen to and hear your are the one responsible for the ministry and it's fruitfulness.

Keep those questions coming. Send me and email and I will respond individually.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Try Out That College Ministry Change NOW!

This is the time of year you are just back from Spring Break....every day from now on, your students are less with you. Remember, some have to read Chapter one and all following!

Are you considering a change to your ministry? Could you try it out between now and the end of school? That might tell IF you want to make the change or WHAT the problems are with your plan.

Several years ago, our Lunch Program (meal with a speaker) had outgrown our Rec room that was right beside the kitchen. Someone said off handedly that it would be great if we could have it in our much larger Chapel. But, the kitchen was down stairs and there were two sets of steps to go up to the Chapel from the serving area. We KNEW it would not work to serve downstairs and students go up two sets of steps to the much larger chapel with plates and drinks in their hands.

So, for the last Lunch Program of the year, we decided to prove it wouldn't work! We set up lots more tables in the Chapel, served downstairs in the kitchen serving area. A crazy thing happened. It worked!

That fall and every fall since since then, the Lunch Program has been served in the kitchen area and the students have carried their plates to the much larger space. A Weekly outreach event that had maxed out at 80 then began to grow....over time it went to 200 plus and even maxed out at 300 a time or two. I knew it wouldn't work....till we tried once!

What should you try once or twice between now and the end of school? What have have you wished you could change? What have you thought about and think maybe it won't work? Pray! Brainstorm! Try it now!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The BIG College Ministry Decision....Change in Your Ministry

Have you ever considered a huge change in your ministry? Have you ever made a huge decision that affected the whole direction, method or style of your ministry? I tend to be an incremental or developmental change person...adjust...tweak. I have seen too many ministries swing the pendulum from one direction to another from one year to the next. When or how do you make a decision to make a BIG change?

I recently read an article from a College Minister quoting a student who said he had dropped out of a College Ministry because they would not let the students make changes. The writer said the leaders of that ministry had been too worried about what their supervisors might say or whether the staff would lose their jobs, if they let the students make the change.

I don't know all the circumstances involved.....but, I am not on board with the idea that students should have the final word in big change to the ministry.

Students MUST be listened to continually and their thoughts and ideas incorporated into the ministry decisions. But, they are not the ones who must live with the decision and consequences long term. So, how do you decide to make a BIG change in your ministry?

Several years ago I began to think and pray about changing our weekly schedule and replacing a large group Bible study I led with a Freshmen Night made up of Freshmen Bible study groups, large group worship led by a freshman band and some fun events. I talked to our large student leadership team about it....asked their thoughts. They were mostly opposed. I indicated we would discuss it over the next few weeks and then, I would make a decision. We discussed it in our large group worship. At the end of the few weeks of discussion and some prayer, I decided to make the change. Some students said, how could I ignore what they said. I told them I had not ignored, but had considered carefully what they said. But, that I was making the decision I thought best.

At that time, I led a large group Bible study on Monday night and we had a large group worship all student led on Thursday might. I asked them to vote whether or not to continue the worship as totally student led or to somehow incorporate the Bible study I led into the large group worship or leave it as is. They voted to incorporate my Bible study into it.

Our ministry boomed as a result of adding the Freshmen Night.....but, I didn't know for sure that would happen. It was the single best decision I ever made in our ministry.

So, how do you decide to make a BIG change?
-Time....let the thoughts simmer...just like pastors should not resign on Monday!
-Seek input from a large variety.
-Be honest about the reasons for a possible change.
-Realize once you make the change, you likely can never go back to the way it was.
-Are you willing to live with the long term consequences?
-Are you willing to "bet the ministry as it now exists" on that change?
-Are you willing to take full responsibility for the change?

How do you decide to make a big change

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some Books and a Resource I Like

I served on a panel awhile back and was ask to mention some books I've read. I pretty well drew a blank. Here's some new ones and an older favorite.

Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley-it tells the story of the start of North Point church and I think there are takeaways for College Ministry. Plus, he shares some of the personal stuff between he and his father that went on during that time.

Leadership Books- I pretty well like all leadership books either for a full read or a one hour session. If you share this interest, I recommend "Leaders Book Summaries". It costs $76 a year. They email you a summary of a new leadership book every three weeks...some are Christian and some are secular. You can read the super brief nutshell or do the longer (usually about 5 pages) summary. There are also some others that you can access.

"Saving Their Future" by Guy Chmieleski who is the Chaplain at Belmont University-this is a brand new book on the theme of mentoring and would be good to give to adult volunteers.

An older favorite: "Seven Practices of Effective Ministry" by Andy Stanley is one of my super all time great favorites...did I say I think it is teriffic?

"50 Secrets of College Ministry" by Me- This is a little self published book I did that is just one small paragraph on each. I see so many newer College Ministers having to learn things the hard way veterans take for granted or sometimes forget.

I also read Time Magazine every week. I buy into the idea that you aren't educated, if you don't keep up with current affairs.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reasons Students Attend or Stop Attending

All of us who do College Ministry have experienced the frustration of a Christian student we have spent a great deal of time reaching out to stop attending our ministry and move to another ministry. Or, sometimes a student who has been active in another ministry moves to ours....what happened and why? Usually, we don't know. Here are what I think are the top reasons Christian students go to or leave a particular ministry, apart from a faith crisis.

1. Language and style
Ministries may have the same theology, but they say it differently or just do it differently. It goes to natural comfort level.

2. Schedule
Sometimes, it is just as simple as one ministry's schedule works better for that student. Work or new classes may bring about a change in schedule.

3. The Cool Place
A Campus Ministry may get the reputation of being THE ministry on campus and students go there for that reason. Never forget that there is some "word of Mouth" about your ministry on campus....good or bad...deserved or undeserved.

4. Size
Some students attend a ministry because it is large (The Cool Place)but some students want to go to a small ministry because they may feel more known or it feels more like their home church.

5. Theology
I am amazed that some ministries tout that they teach no theology...just the Bible. Every ministry is espousing a theology. Sometimes, a student comes into a ministry to later decide that their beliefs are different and move to another ministry.

6. Relationships
I believe for good or bad, the number one reason students attend or quit attending a particular ministry is relationships. A quarrel or breakup in a relationship can send a student to another ministry. All of us have experienced a couple who date breaking up....and then BOTH stop coming because they are afraid they will run into the other!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

College Administrators and College Ministers

One of my Top 10 Problems in College Ministry is a growing negativity on some college campuses of administrators being negative toward Christian organizations. On other campuses, it isn't just isn't anything.
In working with different College Ministers at workshops, etc. I have found there really has not been much thought put into how to relate to the administration. Here are my suggestions and yes, I have done all these things.

1. Make an appointment to go meet the VP of Student Affairs or whomever makes policy and decisions that might affect you and your ministry.

2. Let them know that you would be glad to be of help in any way that you can. Help them see that you are the best free employee they have (helping with student retention, Leadership training, crisis counseling, etc). Don't try to dump all this on them in one quick setting, but let them know you are there to be a benefit.

3. This is going to sound like your grandmother....but here goes....Dress up when you go. Dress like they dress at work! Often, College Ministers dress like students and particularly if you are young, their first impression of you will not be as an equal professional. Dress as though you were going to a job interview.....cause you are!

4. Attend University functions such as receptions, press conferences, coach announcements. These are sometimes sparsely attended, but those there are key University officials that you can visit with informally. Often, they are grateful to whomever will show up for some of these events. I met the Dead Man Walking nun at one such event.

5. Attend program events put on by the Student Activities Board. My favorite one of those was when I attended the guest lecture, "How To Have Great Sex!". The expressions when I came in were....priceless. I was also surprised and pleased to see we had had a larger crowd the night before.

6. Obey the rules for student organizations. When the rules say, "Don't put flyers on windshields"....Don't!
Sometimes every Christian group will get penalized for the reckless actions of one. Help administrators to see and deal with you individually....and they are more likely to when they know you individually. When one fraternity messes up, all fraternities are not put on probation.

7. If the school or an administrator asks or invites you to do it! I have put on my tie and gone and prayed for lots of things! Once the VP of Student Affairs invited all the College Ministers for a sit-down to just visit. I was one of the few who went. I sure did enjoy and benefit from leading that seminar at Freshmen Orientation!

Monday, March 11, 2013

10 Biggest Problems in College Ministry

1. Lack of strong support by denominational leaders for College Ministry.

2. Emphasis by some of Church planting only on college campuses over long term tried and proven methods.

3. Shrinking number of committed leader type guys in College Ministries today.

4. Increasing negativity on some campuses of college administrations toward Christian groups.

5. Copying of Passion worship events rather than each ministry developing their unique style.

6. The trend toward College Ministers seeing themselves as preachers rather than teacher/mentors.

7. Lack of insurance for College Minister families forcing them to seek ministry positions outside of College

8. Fewer women in College Ministry.

9. Church College Ministries operating separately from the church as a whole.

10. Pointing to Mega-Church College Ministries as THE model of Campus Ministry.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Building Up an Existing Church Based College Ministry

I asked a friend who went to a church that had a College Ministry to share his story of where they were, how it has grown and what he thinks are the main reasons for it's growth.

In 2010 we had 6 to 10 college students on Sunday morning with about 40 coming to our student led small groups. There were 45 to 65 coming to the Sunday night college student service. This fall we have about 140 students on Sunday morning and 150 in our small groups. We average about 350 at our student worship service on Tuesday night.

Here are a few things that we have done that I believe have had the biggest impact on our ministry.

1. We had no adult leaders in 2010. Now we have over 30 and that number is growing. Each Sunday morning we have 8 small groups and plan to have 12 this fall. We have made this the focal point of our ministry.

2. We moved our College Worship from Sunday nights to Tuesday nights. This has allowed us to focus more on Sundays and keep our ministry from being totally segregated from the rest of the church. One of our 4 main prayers is to be rooted in the church, both growing and serving in the church.

3. We made our student led Communities (which meet different nights and in different dorms and apartments) closed groups. They can sign up for 3 weeks. After that, no more students can sign up. We alternate weeks. One week they discuss what we are studying at our College Worship on Tuesday and the next week the group works together to do some outreach to target unchurched students on campus or they do a service ministry project. Each student has to sign a covenant to be part of a community

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Basics for Church Based College Ministry

I have never done church based College Ministry. I have seen it done well and poorly. Recently, I have been asking some who do it well and very well to share what they know that can benefit others. I will be sharing their insights without names and location for a variety of reasons.

Today's observations are from a Church College Minister in a very large ministry.

What are the Main Things That Make a Church College Ministry What it Should Be?

1. The Ministry is seen as targeting a missional people group NOT an educational group.
-Treat it as just another segment of the educational ministry and you are forcing a square peg into a round hole. The leaders must be free to reach and minister on terms dictated by campus culture instead of the church programming dictating the mission.

2. The pastor MUST be on board and friendly to students. He can set the stage for #1.
-Students like some access to Pastoral leaders, but NOT a hangout buddy.

3. Missional opportunities within the family of faith give students a place to serve instead of just take.
-It also removes some of the "youthy" feel. They are now young adults. Churches who embrace students in this way instead of just seeing them as temporary will benefit from their service.

4. Churches who connect with BCM can help students see the vision is bigger than "just our thing" and strategically plan with the BCM to keep from reinventing the wheel and creating competition.
-It is the best use of resources. BCM has some resources that churches don't and vice versa.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A College Bible Study You Can Use, Improve or Ignore

I have a friend who is Campus Minister for a large and excellent ministry. He used to call me and say, "Could you send me the outline of your most recent talk?". One summer we were together in August prior to the start of school and he said, " Would you send me your outline for the 4 or 5 best talks you gave last year?". Each time I would email or hard mail him a copy of the detailed outline I spoke from. I have no idea how or if he used them. I do know that one time I had been invited to speak on another campus and He asked if I were going to give a talk I was often asked to do and he said he had already done a variation of it on that campus.

All of us struggle sometimes with our a pastor friend of mine said one time, "I am getting ready to drive across the state to deliver a sermon I wouldn't walk across the street to hear.". We all struggle sometimes with what to say or how to say it. Sometimes, when I see what someone else has done with a scripture or a topic, I have a better idea or think that is a scripture or topic I want to work on. By the way, my friend does not call me anymore...don't know if he found a better source or what.

Starting today I am going to occasionally post a brief outline (not my detailed outline I used) that anyone who needs it can use it as is, improve on it or use it as an idea starter for your own. Two things you need to know about my talks, 1. They are all about the practical. And, 2. I like titles that might appeal to the student who is not super spiritual.

"Of Course YOU Are Weird!"

Intro: everybody is a little weird except you and me.....and I'm starting to wonder about you.". Unknown sage
-Discovering and being uniquely who God made youmto be and not a poor copy of someone else is one of the tasks of a college student.

Psalm 139:1-6, 14-16, 23-24

I. You are a special, valuable creation of God. "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
-something is more valuable that is not mass produced.
-Value also comes thru function.

II. God has laid out plans of worthwhile things for you to do. "all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
-How do you know the plans God has written into your life?

III. God Can Use and Grow Us in and Through the Difficult times. "Test me and know my anxious thoughts."
-Be honest with God and yourself.
-Learn from what is happening in hour life.

IV. Be Willing to Seek and Accept God's Forgiveness....and Change. "See if there is any offensive way in me."
-Everyone messes up...the question is, what do you do about it?
-Don't let guilt keep you from what God intends you to be.
-God also wants to use you to help other Believers who are stopped by guilt.

V. Following and Becoming What God Wants you to be is a Lifelong Process. "Lead me in the way everlasting."
-You never know it all.
-God has never spoken His final word to you.

PS. I don't post this cause it is sensational or cause I picked my's just something that might be a starter for you when the well is dry!

Friday, March 1, 2013

The WHY of College Ministry

Yesterday I saw a video of Simon Sinek's Ted talk on The Why. It is terrific, if you have not seen it. It made me wonder if we have done a good job of telling people, churches, denominations the Why of College Ministry.

Some of the WHY of College Ministry:

College students are at the most pivotal time of their life. Psychologists say that the two greatest times of change in a person's life are birth to one and high school graduation to Christmas....and obviously it is not all roses from there.

Christian college students hear thoughts and questions they have never heard before. Who helps them process that with their faith?

College students are young enough to be influenced and old enough to make life altering decisions.

Most of the leaders of our society come from our colleges and universities.

Non-Christian students are deciding what are the foundations they will place their life around.

The future leaders of the world come to US colleges and universities to study.

The churches of tomorrow need the best lay leadership possible.

The call to vocational ministry must be declared to young and available lives searching for their life purpose.

Are you clearly stating the specific why of your ministry to those who need to hear it? Sinek says those who state they why are the most the video!