Sunday, December 29, 2013

THE Dirty Word: Administration

The dirty word for many College Ministers (and all different ministers) is administration. The cry of many is, "I was called by God to help people..not shuffle papers".

I believe that if we administrate well, we actually multiply our ministry. Good administration usually leads to more organization and more involvement with a wider variety of people than just our "out of my hip pocket ministry". Much of administration connects to our funding or increasing financial support. So, how do we administrate better when that's not our calling or our gift? Here's the 1, 2, 3's:

1. Have a set time of day or week to do paperwork.
-Friday mornings were always great for that for me. Students had other thoughts and didn't want to see me on was the weekend when all was right.

2. Certains tasks are annual tasks such as working on budgets, alumni mailings, etc.
-These fit really well in times when students are gone....summer, Christmas, Fall Break, Final exams week. Plan
And use these times well and it frees you for people ministry other times.

3. Use your first hour of the day for answering messages, sending letters, etc....then it's done for the day and
You are free. Don't check your email or other messages till this hour is over.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What's the Toughest Jobs for College Ministers?

A veteran College Minister recently said he felt the toughest things to do as a College Minister were:

1. Supervision - leading, training empowering staffers under you.
2. Networking - Connecting with others you can learn from and have a sense of emotional support from others who share your calling.
3. Administration - Doing the business side of leading a ministry.

First, let me make a quick swing at Supervision. I totally agree that this is one of the huge weaknesses I see in many College Ministers. The 1, 2, 3's of supervision:
1. Spell out clear expectations and job responsibilities.
- What is priority and what is not?

2. Give immediate and clear feedback in the beginning.
- What are they doing right? Wrong?
- Be sure to give credit for effort.
- Give little pointers you learned the hardest.

3. Make sure they know it is never wrong to come and ask questions.

4. Make sure they see you as a friend...with authority....not someone who is hoping to catch them messing up.

5. Each week give them some specific tasks you want to see accomplished.

6. Meet with them weekly....doesn't have to be long.
- It can be staff meeting or individual, but be personal with them.

Friday, December 27, 2013

What's THE Most Important Thing?

A College Minister friend asked me today what I thought was the single most important thing to do in a College Ministry?

My answer was "One on one meetings" with your student leaders. It strengthens your ministry in many ways and builds deeply into their lives. Plus, it repays the investment they are making in the ministry.

He then said, "What else is number 1?". My second number one most important thing is "Demonstrate excellence and expect excellence". Students ought to see things done well and they ought to be taught to do them well. Second rate is never good enough in ministry and anything that is supposed to honor the Lord. "Close enough for government work" doesn't apply here.

He then asked "What is your third Number 1"? It is "Accountability". Are students taught to be accountable to the commitments they make? We fail them when we do not help them to learn to be accountable.

That's it....that's my number one most important thing we must do in College Ministry.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Accusation: I'm Old Fashioned in College Ministry

Recently, I was accused of being old fashioned in my College Ministry. Let me plead guilty on several counts:

-I don't wear gel in my hair.

-I don't have black frame glasses and I usually wear my shirt tucked in.

-During the music worship time before I speak when the lights are doing different crazy Tech Team then turns on the mirror ball....and I flinch!

-We don't use a professional worship band...We use students to train them for future service.

-I still hug students; I was told years ago I shouldn't do this.

-I think churches make a mistake when they separate their College Ministry from the rest of the church.

-We don't try to reach out to just the pretty and popular students and we have all kinds.

-I still believe it works best when campus based ministries and church based ministries cooperate rather than competing.

Yep; I'm guilty of all those things.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Most Perplexing Collegiate Ministry Issue

There are many things that I don't understand in Collegiate Ministry....but, the most perplexing is how and why "committed Christian students" disappear from practicing their faith when they come to college.

All of us are familiar with the figure, "4 out of 5 high school seniors active in church have no spiritual connection in college". Others say the figure is "7 out of 10". Either way, it is not encouraging....what happens?

A mother recently shared that her "Christian high school daughter" now at the end of her first semester in College thinks mom is old fashioned because she won't let her go spend a week in another state with her boy friend...just the two of them in his new apartment. There's the guy who was a leader last year in his youth group and a worship leader...this fall in college, he is drunk a lot and not connected to a church or campus ministry.

What happens? Is it peer pressure is greater? Was their Christian commitment last year just responding to the peer pressure of a different group? Or, were they just "taken" to church by their parents?

A Sociologist who made a study of high school seniors and their transition to college has said, "Parents aren't getting what they want(faith-wise), but they are getting what they deserve". I accept that in some cases, but not in all.

Some have said it happens as a result of growing up with "Rules Religion" and when they get to school and break one of the "rules" they quit faith out of guilt.

Somehow, we have to get a better understanding of what happens between youth group star to no faith walk in college.

How do we re-connect with them after they have gone away (sophomore, junior, senior years)?

Later Addition: My friend Brian Combs recommends "Artificial Maturity" and "Generation IY" by Tim Elmore and "Hurt" by Chap Clark, if you want to pursue this topic more. We had Clark at the Collegiate Summit right after he wrote this book. He had just spent a year sub teaching in different high schools as part of his prep and research. Great suggestions by Brian!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Differences in a Collegiate Ministry and a Ministry TO Students

In a previous blog I said there was a difference in a Collegiate Ministry and a Ministry TO college students. I also said both are good and we need both....they just aren't quite the same.

A ministry to students pre-predetermines when and what will happen. A College Ministry functions on the campus clock and students have big input into what happens and when.

A Ministry to Students pretty well just deals with spiritual issues. A College Ministry deals with all issues of college life...homesickness, teaches leadership, connects to and helps non-spiritual issues and activities on campus.

A Ministry to students is primarily adult/non-student led. A College Ministry has a majority of students leading and some or one non-student adults leading. Some College Ministries actually have no non-student/adultleaders.

A College Ministry is training students to take over leadership roles in that ministry in the future. A Ministry to students is usually not heavily dependent on students for its key roles for Leadership in that ministry for the future.

A Ministry to students is often better funded than a College Ministry because it has a large number of non-student adults leading out and active. They tend to bring more resources to the table.

A College Ministry tends to be more affected by the trends and decisions of a college administration than a Ministry to students.

A Ministy to students tends to have more non-student adults for mentoring and role models.

Students often speak and have the key roles at events at a College Ministry where staff tend to have the key roles at main events in a Ministry to students.

Where there are strong/large churches their ministry tends to be TO students.

A Ministry to Students tends to prioritize large group gatherings and a College Ministry has large group events but also prioritizes one to one.

Smaller church College Ministries tend to depend more on students in key roles and are more of a College Ministry.

Most Campus based ministries are College Ministries...not "To Ministries".

Where there are no strong church ministries, the Campus Ministry tends to be more hybrid...both to and for.

Smaller Church College Ministries tend to need and utilize more student leadership and be less non-student driven.

Usually, a Church College Ministry is a Ministry to students

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Message from Your Grandmother to College Ministers

Those that have read much of my stuff know I'm like your grandmother in that I harp on writing thank you notes.

Now, as the action on campus slows down is the time to think about who ought to get a thank you note from you. Who has helped your ministry? Who has gone out of their way for you? Whose church or Sunday School class has done something for you?

Different ways to do Thank You's:

-Handwritten notes are always appropriate.

-Use a great picture from your ministry and have Christmas cards made and mail to all your supporters.

-Still have some students around? Have each one of them write a thank you message to one of your supporting churches, classes, men's group telling what the ministry means to them.

-Make some fudge or cookies and take to that secretary or custodian that has gone out of their way to help you.

-Wite a summary of highlights of the semester and mail it to all your supporters.

Do people know you are grateful?

Do people/churches know their support makes a difference.

One last word from your grandmother....get some extra rest during the holidays...brush your teeth too!

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Killer Band? A College Ministry or a Ministry To Students?

A few years back, a Church College Minister came to me and said, "Why don't you let me help you put together a killer band?". He said he would get his music guy at church and some different people out of the community and we could have a really terrific, professional worship band at our weekly event that he thought would draw an even larger crowd.

I like large crowds and I know how important the worship music is to students....but, I said, no thanks. We use students out of our ministry to make up our band. They aren't pro or semi-pro. A time or two we have had students quit our band because it was not pro enough for them. So, why am I so stupid?

I believe one of the main tasks of a legitimate College Ministry is to be training students for future service in the church. I don't think we do that well when we are always having "the pros" do things for them. I have seen student worship bands start out weak and end the year strong..getting better every week. Why? Because, they had the opportunity. Last Sunday at the church I attend, 4 of the 6 worship band members in the Contemporary service were past members of our student worship band. The paid "pro" leading had started out as a bass player in our band. The next year when we asked him to lead the band, he said he was the wrong choice because he wasn't a worship leader...that there were better musicians than him. I told him we wanted him because of who he was. He did it and he got better every week. Now, after graduating, he is a "pro".

There is a distinction between a service or ministry TO students and a College Ministry. A College Ministry is using students to train and prepare them for service in the future.

One question you may need to ask yourself is, Are we a College Ministry or are we a Ministry aimed at college students? They're both good...they just aren't the same thing.

6 Statements to Consider for Your College Ministry

1. Don't do what a student can do.

2. Always get contact info for any new student who comes to your event....Seeker friendly privacy is over-rated.

3. It's more important for potential freshmen leaders to have a good experience than to have a big responsibility.

4. Continually build and reinforce a wide network of support.

5. Be a teacher not a preacher.

6. Be a friend to the whole campus.

Friday, December 6, 2013

4 Questions to Ask at the End of the Semester

1. What is it that you/your ministry did that made the most difference?
-What did students respond to the best?
-What moved students most toward life change?
-What gave you the biggest bang for the buck?

2. What did you do that needs to go by the wayside?
-It isn't worth what it cost you time wise or monetarily.
-It used to work but it doesn't anymore and you are doing it from force of habit.

3. Are you making decisions based on what is not what was?
-Campuses and situations change. Students change.
-Are you thinking honestly about the situation NOW?

4. Are you playing to your personal strengths and the strengths of your ministry?
-Are you shortcutting on some things because they come easily to you and as a result you are not seeing all come out of it that you might?
-Each ministry has a unique or set of unique strengths....particularly where there is more then one college ministry this matters.
-What sets you apart? What makes your ministry unique?
-What are you offering that meets a need that is not being met elsewhere?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Leaders and Covenant Agreement...Public Examples, Grace, Hard Conversations

We ask our student leaders to commit to a covenant agreement which in part asks them to not use alcohol and illegal drugs during their time of service. There are a variety of reasons for that. Regardless of different good arguments about what scripture says about alcohol, we have found it to be the number one problem on campus. In our setting we have also seen it be a huge barrier when non-Christians see Christians use alcohol.

But, what do you do about "enforcing" this commitment? A friend and colleague and I had a good discussion about it today. Where is the line between holding people accountable and snooping into people's personal lives? I don't believe you actively seek or check on people. I trust that Chrisitan leaders will honor commitments. I have had students come to me and indicate they had violated their commitment and apologize. If it becomes an issue that one of our leaders is violating this commitment, then I will have a conversation with them. If they tell me it is not true, I take them at their word. If they indicate that it is, we discuss where we go from there. If they continue that behavior, they cannot continue to serve. If they tell me it is true, but they realize they made a mistake, we talk about what happened and why. If they commit to honor their commitment from that point on, they continue in their leadership role. I have never had to have a second discussion with one of our leaders in this area who continued in their leadership role.

Recently, someone interpreted a vague Facebook message as possibly meaning that someone had violated their commitment in regard to alcohol, and I was asked if I would speak to that person. My answer was no. We cannot control or even know all that others say about us. I'm serious about working with students and teaching them to honor commitments. But, I never want my students to feel I don't trust them and am always looking over their shoulders.

It's a tough line to walk...teaching students to honor their roles as public faces of faith along with forgiveness and grace. How do you handle it?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What Has Changed in College Ministry?

Since I started College Ministry in the 70's, a question I am often asked is, "What has changed in these years?". My thoughts and responses will strictly be from a Baptist perspective and I would be interested to hear form other perspectives in the similarities or differences.

1. My first and quick answer is lack of loyalty of students. Formally, if you reached and worked with a student, they would stay with you their whole college career. This was particularly true of students in leadership roles. Now, a student may be very involved as a leader and just go to a different ministry the next year. Many students must almost be re-enlisted each year.

2. When I first began, many of the best known "BSU Directors" nationally were women.

3. Early on there was more emphasis on growth and discipleship and now there Is a greater emphasis on evangelism and missions teams.

4. There are fewer weekly events now. The BSU program I was involved in as a student had 8 programs each week....5 Noondays 12:25 to 12:50 Monday thru Friday and 3 night programs 6:00 to 6:30 Monday, Tueaday and Wednesday. When I went to Henderson State as Director, we "only" had 3 programs a week...Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
5:30 to 6:00. It was 10 minutes of music led by a different student each time, 5 minutes of announcements and a speaker for 15 minutes.

5. Today College Ministers are often expected to be speakers. In the 60's and 70's the emphasis was to stay in the background. If you were up front, you were not equipping your students to do the ministry.

6. The "Big Name Speakers" were staffers at NAMB and IMB or one of the Seminaries (Nathan Porter, Ed Seabough, Stan Nelson, Tommy Starks, Grady Nutt) and spoke at the large conferences and on local campuses as part of their job. Later on Charlie Baker was the preminent college speaker while pastoring churches in Oklahoma. Money was not an issue in having them.

7. Church College Ministries were primarily Sunday morning College Sunday School and Sunday night supper and programs at church or in homes.

8. Weekend Revival Teams of 4 or 5 students went to different churches throughout the year leading youth or all church revivals. That's where many led music or preached for the first time. Later, that morphed to traveling Drama Teams and Singing groups primarily for Sunday night services.

Conclusion: College Ministry will always change, adjust and adapt....the point is to be intentional about meeting needs and being what God is leading us to do. Don't change to change and don't stay the same cause, "That's the way we have always done it.".