Friday, January 31, 2014

Which Title Describes Your Collegiate Ministry Strength and Style?

If you have done College Ministry for more than a week, you know you have to be a Jack or Jill of all Trades. I have talked with a pastor about a $100,000 gift to our building campaign and 5 minutes later helped a student shed tears over a $25 parking ticket. Then, you go mop the floor where the commode ran over.....and oh yeah, you are supposed to speak in a few minutes.

But, if you had to use one word to describe your style or strength, what would it be? Pick from one of these:







Which best describes you at your best?

Which one least describes you?

If you are a hybrid of two.....which two?

If you readily identify one of these as your core strength, are you functioning in that role? Are you giving yourself the chance to do it well? The Lord made us all uniquely and He wants to use us that way? If all of these are valid roles in your ministry and one is obviously a weakness....what are you doing about it? Is there someone else who can fill that role.

Jim Whaley says "Communicator" should be one of the choices....good suggestion. Others?

By the way, if you make me choose, I would go with Manager (I see it as a combination of things.). For the hybrid, I'm a Manager/Mentor. My weakness.....I'm not a Preacher....but I'm a pretty good speaker. But, never forget, there is more than one way and one style to do College Ministry right and well. Don't just copy someone else.
Ok, which one are you?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On Returning to Campus Ministry....Not just writing and speaking about it!

I retired from being the Baptist Campus Minister at Arkansas State 2 and 1/2 years ago. At the end of July I was asked to go back briefly as my successor was resigning effective the end of August. Briefly has gone on till now and it has been a wonderful experience. I could not have loved or enjoyed it anymore!

I thought students might be unhappy with me, frustrated with the situation, drop out of the ministry, etc, etc. When I was asked almost immediately if I might go a little longer then first planned, I said, "Let's wait a few weeks to see how it is going.". After a few weeks, it was still going great. I was working three days a week after having worked 5, 6, 7 days a week previously. I told several people, "I should have gone part time years ago.". So, what happened?

First, the Student Leadership Team stepped up big time. I get that...and we had two super part time staffers and a strong President.

But, what was the difference with me that was a factor, that might benefit some of you?

1. I felt no pressure whatsoever! In the past, I had put a great deal of pressure on myself. It's amazing what you can do when you operate pressure free.

2. I haven't felt the need to defend anything....don't like something we are doing, that's fine. Think I do College Ministry the old fashioned way, that's fine.

3. I have spent a ton of time talking to and listening to students. I love it..they are fun, challenging and seem to want to know what I think.

4. I don't go to meetings I don't want to go to. Be careful here...I'm not urging this as a hard core philosophy.
But, I think I could have practiced this more previously.

5. I don't waste my time trying to straighten out anybody else's College Ministry. I see some dumb things and even some things that need straightening out....but, I just go talk to some more students.

6. I'm not as picky about how my student leaders do things. If it is working and they feel good about it, I try not to be the least negative. I think sometimes in the past I over-coached and it took some of their initiative away or made them afraid they might mess up.

7. I live in the moment and enjoy what's going on. I'm not thinking about next semester or next week.

8, Since I don't work ALL the time, I'm not dead tired when I go....maybe your should try resting a little more too.

Now, I plan to write and speak more on College Ministry....hope it helps some!

Monday, January 27, 2014

New Students, Info Cards, and Follow Up

One of the great things about the start of a new semester is seeing new students you did not see the previous semester. So, how do you identify them and what then?

At a Lunch Program, it is possible to have Info Cards simply spread up and down the tables. We have even sometimes had a small golf pencil taped to each one. At our first Lunch Program of each semester we announce a drawing from all new cards turned in for a gift card to a student eating place. Or, this semester we drew for a Lunch Card good for all the dollar BCM lunches the rest of the semester.

At our evening Worship event, it has been more difficult to get Info Cards. This semester, we experimented with having some BCM plastic cups filled with candy and an Info card at a Newcomers Table. One of our very outgoing and warm students worked at the table. Those students working at the Welcome Tables doing name tags directed them to the Newcomers Table.

So, what do you do with the cards you get?
-Give them to a student who lives in the same Residence Hall?
-Give their name and number to a student to call or text?
-Text each of them yourself?

I'm of the opinion that the sooner they hear from you the better. I personally lean toward the text message by someone. They don't have to answer and it still let's them remain somewhat anonymous. I texted several students today whose cards we had gotten last Wednesday and Thursday (Yes; I was late!). I was pleasantly surprised at the number who texted back.

How do you get contact information from students? Or, do you? How do you follow up?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Now that the Spring Semester has Started

We write and talk a lot about what to do at the start of the fall semester, but we don't say much about getting the Spring Semester going. That's because we have it totally under control and our ministry is packed out with super committed disciples. In fact we don't have room for any more. If this describes you....don't read any further. Some things you might do:

1. Be very diligent in looking at and thinking about who you have seen.....and, who have you not seen? Who has not appeared this semester that was a regular before Christmas?

2. if you have not laid your speaking topics and scriptures out for now to Spring Break, it's not too late and it will keep you from scrambling so much each week.

3. Are Spring Break plans nailed down?

4. Who are some freshmen who have really begun to blossom and could be given some additional opportunities?

5. Do you select next Year's leaders before the semester ends? Begin to just watch some folks with that in mind.

6. Is there a College Ministry friend who had a tough and discouraging fall semester that you need to call and see how their semester is starting and just encourage on?

7. Have you sent tax information to your contributors? I believe in sending to all who gave...not just those who gave $250 or more. It shows you are grateful.

8. It's not too early to think about what you will do for your spouse for Valentines....College Ministry spouses are too often not treated as they deserve.

9. Is there a Couples Event you could do related to Valentines....
Engaged Couples seminar, Godly Woman seminar, or a Guy/Girl Relationships focus for your worship event as an outreach event.

10. What was the best use of your time last semester? What was the biggest waste of your time? Repeat and Don't repeat!

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Dirty Secrets of College Ministries

The dirty secret is a lot of the facilities used by College Ministries.....dirty being the key word!

As a College Minister who has been blessed to serve and utilize three different campus centers, I believe in them and know the huge benefits. I've been in lots of Centers and been through some church college ministry areas that were embarrassingly dirty. Or, things looked good on the surface...till you opened a door or two.

One church College Minister who had an area filled with junk and broken down furniture said it wasn't his was the janitor's. I would disagree because the janitor is not responsible for the Ministry.

The care and use of a facility says a lot about our ministry. It also tells our donors and supporters how well we use what they give to us. Why should they give us anything if we obviously don't take care of and use wisely what we already have?

Some campus based Collegiate Ministers that have campus facilities have "Live-In Student Caretakers" and they say that is part of the problem....Live-In Caretakers who....don' I think this is often the result of three issues.

1. Communication of Expectations....Student Caretakers need a clear list of duties. Just expecting them to see what needs doing and to do it will not work. Have a clear list of duties and when those duties are to be performed. Sometimes, it is necessary to show them what it should look like. Yes, I mopped and waxed a floor today. Tomorrow, we will work together.

2. Training in how to do the duties...."Everybody knows how to clean". Ever been in any student dorm rooms or apartments? Then, you know everyone doesn't know how to clean. We do a "Clean-Up Day" prior to the start of the semester....2 purposes: cleaning AND showing Caretakers how to clean as it needs to be done.

3. Accountability. Students with cleaning responsibilities need to be told when they aren't doing what they need to do. When we do not hold students accountable to responsibility, we fail them. We are teaching responsibility and ignoring lack of responsibility is not teaching anything good.

If you have a facility or an area in a church thatmis yours to use.....don't let it be your dirty little secret.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

10 Ideas for Connecting with and Reaching College Guys

1. Have a monthly guys lunch event...if you have a facility and the food doesn't have to be gourmet..just plenty. You or someone talk about or lead a discussion on a guy topic.

2. Have Friday "Guys Meet for Lunch". No program. Each week pick a particular guys type restaurant (fried or buffet or meat). Announce at your weekly event or on Facebook and twitter where it will be this week. UofA Campus Minister Cole Penick has a "Guys Victory Lunch".

3. Have A Guys Retreat. Daniel Berry formerly at UK did this well. The menu was very manly.....cheeseburgers on donuts for breakfast. Friday supper is breakfast with eggs, pancakes and of course sausage and bacon.

4. Be intentional about guys sharing testimonies, leading in prayer.....not guys only, but not girls only at your main vent. Do guys see other guys leading out in your ministry?

5. Take a group to a pro sporting event.

6. Fall Monday nights have Monday night football on the big screen with a Bible study at half time. One church in Texas built their whole College Ministry around this idea.

7. Have a Freshmen guys intramural football team. Lots of guys played in high school, but aren't sure how to get hooked up to play intramurals.

8. Have a guy and girl leader for each Bible study group.

9. Enlist 10 guys to paint up for a campus sporting event. Feed them before or after.

10. Have a Friday afternoon golf tournament at a cheap public course with prizes for highest score, funniest shot,
Most putts on one green, etc. You might even come with some old sets for guys who have never played to borrow.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Reaching Guys

I just read an excellent article, "Why Men Don't Sing in Church". Simply put, the author said it was due to lack of familiarity with the words and tune cause we sing so many different ones. So, that's not just a guy issue. I have noticed that anytime we sing a hymn that more people sing and or sing louder.

But, it again punches my button about reaching guys. In my fifth season of campus ministry anpd return to Arkansas State, I have been blessed with being connected to the "BCM Naked Guys". They are guys ranging from 15 to 35 depending on the event and the weather who paint up for football and some basketball games. Twenty guys did it for the bowl game. First, let me say that was never a name we just developed. But, everyone on campus knows it. The Athletic Department and coaches love them. They were on the cover of the annual a year back.

Part of what makes it work is a student leader who continually enlists, prods and most importantly keeps them in line. It would not work without him. But, does it cause us to reach more guys? I don't know the answer for sure, but I think so! I sure know it helps our ministry be known on campus. Would the time and energy be better spent on something else......a world hunger evangelistic event....a trafficking event? Sure! Would it? No. But, because we connect ith them in that area, I know they connect with us in some other areas.

Reaching and connecting with more guys is sloppy and not real certain. But, we have to try and do different things. By the way, I'm more sold on the Naked Guys than I've ever been! By the way, we don't hold hands and pray at the end of our worship events anymore like we did some years ago....only real churchy guys like that!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Good Book

Carey Nieuwhof's book, Leading Change Without Losing It, is excellent. It is a quick practical read of 118 pages.

One of the things he does best is talking about "4 Kinds of People"....The Early Adopters, The Early Majority,
The Quiet Majority, and The Opponents. He makes a good case for what percentages of these usually are.

Another great contribution is talking about recognizing the difference in "Loud and Large". He says, "Just because a voice is loud doesn't mean you should listen to it most". For a biblical background, he points to Moses.

If you are working for a big change in your ministry, this is a must read....OR....pass it on to friends who are living in the midst of a tough transition. My first year as Campus Minister at ASU was tougher on me emotionally than my year in the war in Vietnam. If you are there this year, this book may help just a little!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

If You Have Kids that Go to College, They Probably Don't Go to Church!

Seven out of ten high school seniors active in church, have no spiritual connection in college. So, odds are that includes your son or daughter. Why is that?

I speak at lots of Senior Sunday Lunches and I share this statistic....the parents always sit there and smile at me. At first, I thought they probably weren't listening. Then, my wife suggested they probably thought that that three out of ten was their son or daughter. Since then, I've realized the third possibility....they don't care!

I don't mean to be harsh. But, I've realized that many parents don't expect spiritual connection in college because they had none when they went to college....and they came back to church. I think in some way or other that message is communicated....we know you won't go to church or the campus ministry and it's ok.

There's two problems with this. First, if they do come back, they bring the issues that they developed while they were away from the Lord and spiritual influence. They make life choices and often pick a spouse during this "vacation from God". But, here's the worse news.....these days most that go away during college aren't coming back.

Here's a less than perfect suggestion....parents should expect and communicate that they expect spiritual involvement in college. Just like we communicate an expectation of good grades or keeping those scholarships, we expect them to be connected to spiritual influences. That means asking questions about grades, going to class and attendance at a campus ministry and or church.

But, here is the step that proceeds that. While they are in high school, don't expect any spiritual practice or participation that both parents don't practice. When you expect them to be in Bible study and worship, you be there too. Want them to go on Wednesday night....then you go too. I've spoken to lots of Youth events where high schoolers were filling a seat.....but, they weren't there!

A message many high schoolers are getting is that high school graduation is also graduation from church. Don't expect anything from your high schooler or college students you don't practice. Will this guarantee your son or daughter's involvement in college.....sadly no....but, it does increase the odds! Then they know you mean it when you ask about it and expect it.

If you have a son or daughter going off to college in a few weeks, you can make sure the Baptist Campus Minister (there are more than 800 nation wide) has their contact information or contact the College Minister at a local church. Many of these are mailing, emailing, calling and texting information about Welcome events during this time shortly before school starts.. What a student does their first three weeks of their freshman fall goes a long way toward determining their path and practices while in college.