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.