Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Help; Our Church College Ministry is Sucking Wind!

One of the privileges I have is to visit with church College Ministers who aren't the big budget ministry, but they see the need and want to connect with and minister to students.

Here are 10 Ideas that Have or Are Working for Somebody.

1. Have breakfast in Sunday school each Sunday witha 4 week rotation.
- pancake man comes once a month and cooks to order.
-casserole Sunday....a different department does it once a year.
-Kids Cereal Day....coco puffs, Lucky Charms, etc
-Panera rolls and coffee

2. Students serve in Kids Ministry Wednesday nights and the church gives them free supper.

3. Wednesday night supper for a $1.

4. Serve Lunch after late worship with Sunday school around the tables.

5. Serve Sunday lunch once a month.,,tied to football home schedule or whatever.

6. 4 Wednesday or Sunday Night Rotation
-Tough question Night...guest speaker speaks on topic like What's the Unforgiveable sin? Revelation in Brief.
-Service Night...do a project at the church...clean up or paint an area.
-Guys Only/Girls only...split for gender specific event.
-Worship night

7. Serve the Community Weekly Project.

8. Have a night where you pair students with doctors,lawyers, teachers, engineers, etc to help students know About their career direction.

9. Have Wednesday night small groups led by students.

10. Be uniquely what your church has to offer.....don't try to copy the "Big Ministries".

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesus' Disciples Didn't Jell Their Hair??

I was participating in a University recognition Day at a church yesterday and stood next to the pastor during the music/worship session led by their University Minister and student band. The pastor is a veteran (nice term meaning old like me) and he turned to me and said, "You've seen music go from soup to nuts during your careeer haven't you."

Yes; I have. I remember when it went crazy new and edgy and we went from a piano with one girl playing and one guy directing to different people leading and the words were put on the wall with an overhead projector! We were out front and outside the box. Then, when we started what is now the contemporary worship movement, a College Minister said to me, "We have finally gotten to authentic worship". I said, I wonder what what will come after this. He looked at me horrified.....there is nothing after this...this is it was his Clear thought.

I know to some it is sacrilegious to say, but there is always a next....there will be another new thing at some point. God uses different things at different points. We must never lose sight of that. It is always difficult to keep the message and the vehicle separate. Jesus didn't have a cool worship leader that I know of....maybe even none of the disciples jelled their hair. Plus, I don't think there was a light show at the Sermon on the Mount.

Our message must never be that we are cool, edgy, outside the box or look good in V-neck tee shirts. Our message can't be that our band is better than or louder than your band. Our message must always be that Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

If your vehicle is your message, your message will go out of style. If our message is clearly about Jesus....then, our ministries will be good for eternity. Be current...connect with students and communicate in ways they get and understand....just don't ever think the cool is the main thing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

What About Student Leaders Who Don't Do What They Are Supposed to Do?

A common frustration in College Ministry is dealing with students in responsibility roles not doing what they have committed to do or are assigned to do.

Obviously, there is no magic answer....but, here's some things that may help.

1. Try to be clear up front what the responsibilities and time commitments are......don't assume they know.

2. Meet periodically with them to discuss how it's going, to evaluate and help them learn from recent experiences.

3. When they do not do something they are responsible for, don't ignore it. Discuss it with them...why did they not do it, show up, etc? If it is not brought up, perhaps they get the message it doesn't matter.

4. Decide what is the lowest degree of "acceptable". It may not be done on the level you would like it done, but it is acceptable and you will live with that.

5. Degree of "acceptability" may be determined by the degree of experience of the student, their age,and the effect of their actions on others.

6. If they consistently perform below what you have decided is acceptable, it is time to have "the talk". The talk is, "you can't continue at this level of performance and stay in this role". Part of our role is help students understand responsibility, if we don't, we have failed them as a College Minister.

By the way, word will get around, that you are willing to have "the talk". You might be surprised the positive effect on other students. But, you must be fair, honest and straight with students. And, you must always be willing to give a second chance. But, we are wrong if we do not teach and expect responsibility.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Encouraging Pastors and Staff

I talked with a pastor today for 45 minutes who really needed encouragement and needed to vent. I was reminded what a great opportunity we have to be an encouraged and listening healing ear.

I think the church folks feel some pressures and pains that we campus folks don't and God can use us to listen and encourage them

Hope you will look around for some pastors or church staff that might need someone to listen to them vent.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The 4 Laws of Announcements

Since I'm currently serving in an on-campus College Ministry position currently, I have less time to think and write....so, you will occasionally see some of my favorite previous listings, or at least it's something I don't think we can emphasize too much.

I am a huge complainer about poor announcements.....So, here are the 4 Laws:

1. Make no more than 4 announcements....the more you make, the less they hear.

2. The person making the announcements needs to know about and understand what they are announcing.

3. The announcements need to be worded so that a first time attendee understands them.

4. The announcements should not become the main event or take too much time away from the main purpose of the event.

BUT, I believe there are announcements that should and need to be made!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Do The Students You Are Reaching Look Like Your Campus?

For Homecoming each year our ministry sponsors a Homecoming Cookout and Variety show. We see it as both a fun/fellowship event and an outreach event. Students are encouraged to bring friends, roommates, etc who are not part of our ministry. We work at trying to connect with them personally. As I was helping in one of the food serving lines, I was struck by the wide variety in appearance of those students going thru the line.

Recently, I spoke for a special event for a ministry on another campus. I was struck by the fact that they looked different than the students on our campus looked. They represented their campus. A while ago I was on a different campus and went with some students to the cafeteria. Again, I was struck by how the dress, styles, etc were different than what I see on my campus.

Two thoughts: it is a reminder that every campus is unique and our ministries must be tailored to each campus. Second, our ministry should look like our campus.

It is easier for all of us to reach those like us or just like those we have already reached. But, are we working at building bridges to different students, different campus groups? The crowd at our ministry hopefully all will not look alike.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why Do Students Ditch Their Faith in College?

All of us who do youth, College Ministry, or pastor a church trying to reach young adults ask this question. Having just completed my 43rd September with college freshmen, I still have this question, but with some additional thoughts....and questions.

Freshmen I have met with who have come to our ministry have expressed disappointment in friends who were Christians from their high school youth group have already begun to live contrary to their expressed commitments prior to coming to campus. One freshman guy who said he was a worship leader in his church is going on alcohol binge trips and asked an upperclass guy how not to do that.

Is it as simple as peer pressure? The desire to fit in is so strong and overwhelming? Was it just peer pressure in high school that made them youth group leaders and "See You At the Pole" participants? Is it all the same....just now the pressure they are responding to is different...same thing just different actions needed to fit in?

Part of the issue is parents who seem to accept and even condone the idea of going away from faith in college, cause we know you will come back after college.....cause that's what the parents did? One Church College Minister tells of a large group of high school seniors who graduated at his church last spring. He worked with them all summer and they were active with his ministry and started at the local University when the fall began. Since school has started, only one of the large group that attended in the summer has been once! It seems he did his part....what happened?

No magic answers from me....but...we have to help people get past this notion of, "Everyone goes away in college but comes back later" . Even if that were 100% true, they come back with the issues and marriages they developed while they were away from the Lord. But, we know right now most are not coming back.

Is peer pressure and fitting in the most powerful force? We thought they loved Jesus in high school and it was just peer pressure? Are parents walking away from their role in College students' spirituality?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Campus Hot Spots

Campus Hot Spots are those places where it is easy to see and run into a large number and variety of students. Many years ago when I first went to Arkansas Stare, I realized that almost everyone that lived on campus went to the campus post office at either 9:00 a.m. Or 10:00 a.m. Especially at the beginning of the year, I would stand in front of the post office. I would see students I had just met and could say hey again. Core students in our ministry would come by and introduce me to their roommate or whomever they were walking with.

Obviously, cell phones and Facebook or email has changed that....but, the principle of Campus Hot Spots has not. Where are places or the place you can go where you see students you know and meet others without it being awkward?
It may be the campus coffee shop....maybe it is the student exercise center. For me, it is the cafeteria. Amazingly enough ASU has only one cafeteria. Any student who lives on campus goes there. I go there for Lunch Monday and Thursday. I sit with a table full of students and talk...both serious and fun. I get to speak to others in passing. Students introduce me to other students. I must confess that I have sometimes eaten more than I wanted or needed just in order to stay connected to a new group that had just filled up the table.

Sometimes, I make an appointment to meet a student or two for lunch there to get to know them better. Other times I just go. But, for me that is The Campus Hot Spot. Where is your Campus Hot Spot?

My friend, Darrell Cook, BCM Director at Virginia Tech, yesterday reminded me of the term "Campus Hot Spot". He also said I told him years ago to put more money in his retirement fund.....that's real good advice....believe me!