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?