Monday, April 28, 2014

Why Don't Church and Campus Based Ministries Work Together?

I was leading a seminar on College Ministry with both full time professionals and volunteers. One of the sweet volunteer ladies raised her hand and said,"Why don't campus based and church based ministries work together better?". I paused and stuttered around for a minute.

She then said, "How come every time I ask that question people pause and stutter around?". I looked at a Church based College Minister friend of mine in the group and said, "You want to answer that question?". He quickly said, "No.".

Ok, so here goes. This is in Baptist circles; I don't know about other groups. For many years I was considered an "expert in working with churches". We had great communication, joint projects and monthly meetings. Then, personnel changed and I was not an expert anymore! What happened?

-Part of it is personalities. Our first group all liked each other and enjoyed being together. That was not true of the later group.

-With increasing budget cuts these days, College Ministers in both situations feel increasing pressure to produce numbers.

-Somewhere along the way the rules changed in Baptist life...and not everyone got the memo that the rules had changed. It used to be that the Baptist Campus Minister was considered the "Gatekeeper" to the campus for Baptists. Everything went through his or her office. In fact, he/she was told they were to help coordinate what the churches did. Some churches became their own recognized student organization and felt they didn't need or want a "Gatekeeper". Part of this developed as churches went from more part time College Ministers to full time College Ministers.

-Under "the old rules" the BSU/BCM//BSM/whatever didn't do anything Sunday or Wednesday night and the churches didn't do anything weeknights (except Wednesday). Sunday was the main emphasis of the churches. In recent years, many Collegiate Church Ministries have emphasized their week night meeting as much or more than their Sunday events. So, now everybody is meeting on whatever night. Scheduling got more difficult and therefore, competitive.

-One Campus Based Minister said, "I give the names of all the incoming freshmen I have gathered all summer to this church and they use my list to advertise their event that is the same time as my weekly event.".

-One Church based College Minister said he felt our campus based ministry offered so much it kept the students too busy to do all he wanted to do.

-A common statement is, "There are plenty of students not being, what's the problem?". The problem comes in that there are not plenty of Christian student leaders and these students feel pulled or drop out of one so, they can do more or serve in the other or....oh some.

-A well known Pastor whose church is immensely popular with college students wrote an article where he said something like, "Students should be active in their campus based ministry their first year or two and then just their church their last couple of years.". His idea was based on the fact that campus based ministries usually do an excellent job with freshmen. I said to him, "If we went with that plan who would be the upper class mentors and discipleship leaders with these freshmen?". He said, "I didn't think of that.".

-I've had Church College Ministers who enhanced our ministry and we theirs and I had a College Minister in my own church who wouldn't even return my calls. So, I've seen both sides.

There are no magic answers... but, here are a few suggestions.

-Communication is huge. Communicate..,even if it is one way....even if they don't communicate back, you communicate.

--Look for something you can do together that at least is a benefit to students, if not a benefit to both ministries.

-Work with those who want to work together. Sometimes, we make it an all or nothing deal. Dance with those whom will dance with you!

-Try to never speak ill of another ministry (unless it's a basic theological issue and then just speak to the issue.).

-Never think you are so big you don't need anybody else with whom to partner.

-Never forget that conflict between Christian ministries is a huge turn off to students.

-Occasionally, attend a main event of the other ministry....not when you speak or are supposed to be there....just show up. Make sure all others feel invited to your events. Yes; sometimes, its very uncomfortable.

Monday, April 21, 2014

So.....Your Event BOMBED!

Bombed...the old fashioned bombed....tanked....stunk...failed! You put tons of money or time or effort and prayer into was awful, or it was great and nobody came. We've all been there. If you are smiling smugly and saying it's never happened to you....just's coming.

First, realize if you are going to try new things, there will be some bombs. Remember, Babe Ruth set some kind of record for strikeouts. You can't just bury your bombs you have to learn from them. I've had lots of bombs in my College Ministry career, but two particularly standout. Many years ago on the first campus where I served, we had an outreach event in the University ballroom with a contemporary singer. The attendance was small and just my regulars. I later figured up that I could have paid $10 each to students to come....maybe hear me speak....and had a larger crowd.

Then, a few years back at Arkansas State, we had an event on Sunday night after students had moved into the dorms on Saturday. We were having a very popular Christian band for a night of worship. They cancelled and I went with an alternative which cost me more and then he sang love songs, because he was trying to break into the secular market. Oh yeah, the crowd was small too.

Lessons to learn or Questions to Ask after The Bomb:

-Is it a good idea that was done at a bad time?

-Was there a change that affected the event (the popular/well known Christian band cancelled) and you should have scrapped the idea?

-The idea was good, but there was a breakdown some where you were not aware of (after one event, I found all of the posters to be put out laying on a shelf.).

-Something else was scheduled up against it that was out of your control and it was too late to change.

-Did I force an idea onto my Leadership Team that they were never bought into?

-Did I count too much on money and not enough on personal effort and even....prayer?

-Did I get enough partners to go in with me or did I try to "Lone Ranger it"?

-If it had worked, would it have been worth what it cost? I admire the Church College Ministry that stopped doing a big annual special event for students simply because they decided it wasn't good stewardship.

-Is it better than some extra effort and possibly money put into one of our regular events?

-Even though the response was not what I had hoped, did it help the campus as a whole be more aware of our ministry? That may still be a win.

I will confess to to loving special events and outside speakers. If we are trying to reach some students we have never touched before, we have to try different things....some will work...some will not. Learn from your bombs and never ever give up on the idea of trying to impact your whole campus for Christ and touch students you've never seen before. Remember, A little boy named Billy Graham was the only one to accept Christ at a two week revival....what a bomb!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

College Ministry Fund Raisers

Roger and Rose Bear serve in College Ministry at Indiana State in Terre Haute. Their newsletter is one of the best I get. Recently, it spoke of Christian ministry fundraisers. "I grew up in a church that didn't believe in having fundraisers. You shouldn't expect the world to pay for the Lord's work. God's people should support God's work". The Bears went on to say they are doing a fundraiser now collecting gently used shoes for their "Unholey Souls" project.

Many College Ministries must do fund Raisers to support missions projects or Summer Missionaries who have to raise $3,000 to $4,000 for foreign projects. What are fund Raisers that people do? Does it matter if they accomplish some good past raising funds for worthy causes?

-One ministry spends a Saturday working at the area church camp getting it ready for the summer. The students ask people to pledge support per hour for their 8 hours of work. Money is raised and a good project is done.

-Another ministry tells of doing a highway walk-a-thon where they pick up trash and get cash sponsors per mile.

-I inherited a Barbecue Chicken Dinner on Homecoming Day. For several years we sold tickets to parents, alums and friends for a lunch on game day. More than money it seemed the benefit was having parents and alums together and seeing our ministry facility.

- For several years we did a 10 mile Walk-A-Thon where students got pledges for each mile and raised thousands of dollars. A few years back students didn't see the point.

-Golf Tournaments are a favorite fund raiser for many ministries. Some take it a step further and allow participants to buy extra shots or do-overs, etc.

-Another version of the Golf Tournament is getting sponsors to pledge per how many holes you can play in X number of hours.

-One creative College Minister has a full pad tackle football game. He says many former high school playersnlong for one more game. He borrows equipment from a local Chrisitan school. Thry charge guys to play and they sell tickets to see it.

-Some ministries do a Dinner or Dessert Theatre. Or, some even do a full blown musical such as Oklahoma.

What's your feeling about fund Raisers.....good....bad? Must they serve some good other than raising money? Got a great new idea you want to share with others?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Starting a Church Collegiate Ministry

This is a brief version of an article Bruce Venable wrote in response to a church asking how to start a College Ministry. Bruce currently serves as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Monticello, Arkansas. Prior to that, he was College Minister at First Baptist, Lubbock, Texas and a BCM Director in Louisiana.

5 Key Questions

1. Are there lay leaders (of all ages) who like college students and will college students relate to your lay leaders? Lay leaders must see ministry with students as more than a 45 minute study each week.

2. Are collegians within reasonable location of the church? They are mobile, but that benefit only comes when momentum is rolling. Connect with collegiate ministry on campus (BCM, BSM, etc).

3. Is your church worship collegiate friendly? It doesn't have to be a full blown college service with bands and lights. Is your staff collegiate friendly? The staff should believe students arema vital investment for the kingdom.

4. Will your church allow Collegiates to serve? Are they totally dependable? Tell me the last time you had an adult totally dependable...just saying.

5. Is there a way collegians can intergeneration-ally connect? Students are looking for mentors, not theologians, just good quality mentors.

First Step Suggestions to Start:

1. Identify one or two couples with the calling. Meet with them to establish vision and direction.

2. Do you have an handful of students you can include in the vision casting process? Students reaching students is unbeatable. Let them own and shape it.

3. Plan toward a fall launch. Find a way to reach next fall's incoming Freshmen. Connect with your BCM/BSM, etc to assist in fall freshmen events.

4. Don't think that you need to "wait a few weeks until after school starts" to begin next fall. Go after them from Day 1....even in the summer, if you can identify some. Thry decide their typical patterns of involvement in the first month of their freshman year.

5. Don't get frustrated with their unfaithfulness. They will be there some and be gone some....that is just the nature of the beast during this time of life.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

More Notable Voices in College Ministry

I recently wrote a Blog, 10 Influential Voices in College Ministry, and listed 10 people who are currently affecting College Ministry by their writing, speaking, specialized knowledge, example, etc. Of course, a list like that always leaves people out who may be as much or more worthy of being on the reader said, "glad you didn't call it the top 10". I'm a little smarter than that! One fussed at me for it being heavy on the Baptist side. I will plead guilty there due to the fact that is the world in which I primarily move. But...But, I will also plead guilty to the belief that Baptists, due to the number of campuses and students involved, is a leader in College Ministry.

I said to my reader who said he wanted to hear about others and to anyone else....who are other notable voices? Here are the responses I got.

Francis Chan - notable for speaking at the Passion conferences and challenging students to pursue Christ over material possessions.

Josh McDowell - speaker, writer who was connected with Campus Crusade for some years in speaking at large campus events and well known for his books such as Evidence that Demands a Verdict and Answers to Tough Questions, etc.

Gary Stidham - BSM Director at University of Texas, Arlington who is known for his example in evangelism and expertise in fund raising.

Brett Yohn, University of Nebraska and Bob Anderson, Kansas State University - they are tied together as a result of being students at University of Oklahoma who came out of Max Barnett's ministry and Max's vision to plant ministries at all the schools in their athletic conference. I'm told they moved in one U-Haul and Bob got off first in Manhattan...true story or legend...not sure which. Examples of a whole ministry given to one campus. Both have recently retired.

Frank Page - Dr. Page is Southern Baptist's top executive who is an advocate for College Ministry. He had a daughter who committed suicide. He said as a result of that he knows "the dark side of college life". He goes out of his way to attend College Minister events and speak a word of encouragement.

I asked a friend who does campus based ministry for a different church group (not Baptist) who one of their notable voices was. He said he could not name anyone. I think that points to our need to hold up more notable voices and examples. Here are people you can look to for help and encouragement.

One funny note: Some years ago I was asked to speak at a large state wide youth event. I was surprised as they usually had a big name speaker. A short time before the event I received a call saying they had just gotten the chance to get Josh McDowell....they would use me in a future year.....still waiting!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Discipling Your Collegiate Leaders

My two favorite months of the school year in College Ministry are the first month in the fall and the last month following Spring Break.

The fall is obvious, but the spring is because basically your students are with you less each day due to the impending sight of finals, papers, and coming of summer. Basically, what you had to get done is done. But, two things can happen. First, for some reason the end of spring semester always seems to bring more personal problems/issues for students. I think perhaps the end of a school year or the thought of going home for the summer reminds them of issues they have been submerging to that point. Or, discussions with parents about the summer raises new issues and conflicts. It can be a time of almost pure ministry.

But, for those who have elected/selected their new Leadership Team for the fall, this is a wonderful time to be building into their lives. How do you do that?

1. Set a weekly and private meeting time with each of them.

2. Get to know them. I always said that we would meet for an hour and that first half was all about them....
personal stuff, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, school stuff, whatever they want to talk about.

3. Cast vision for next semester. What has that leadership role been in the past? What could it be in the future? How do their unique gifts and abilities fit into their responsibility? Don't assume they see their position or responsibility the same way you do.

4. Talk about the summer and what they will do, where they will worship. I have been amazed to find some sharp Christian students who basically take the summer off from church because they aren't going to be around the Campus Ministry geared just toward them or the real cool College Church.

5. Pray with them. You may be surprised at the number of students who have not prayed out loud and personally with someone apart from some more formal group prayer.

6. Intentionally be their older friend...not a buddy.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10 Influential Voices in College Ministry

There is a an article circulating listing what one survey described as the "20 Most Influential Evangelicals". One of those is considered a leading voice in College Ministry. So, Who are the notable voices in College Ministry? Who are people reading? Who do other College Ministers emulate? Who is doing the thinking and speaking that affects everyone in College Ministry?

Here are 10 Notable College Ministry voices in no particular order.

Max Barnett - Former BCM Director at Oklahoma University and now teaches at different SBC Seminaries.

Stephen Lutz - College Minister in Pennsylvania whose book, College Ministry in a Post Christian Culture, has been used as required reading in several College Ministry settings. He has a new book, King of the Campus.

Mark Whitt - College Ministry leader for Southern Baptists who is headquarted at Lifway in Nashville and formerly BCM Director at Murray State University.

Chuck Bomar - Author of College Ministry 101 and College Ministry from Scratch and now pastor of Colossae Church in Portland.

Louie Giglio - Became known for large weekly Collegiate event at Baylor and then started the Passion Conferences.

Brian Frye - State College Ministry Director for Ohio Baptists and North American Mission Board Collegiate Ministry Consultant. Considered an expert in Collegiate Church planting.

Steve Masters - Director of a large BCM ministry at LSU and considered an expert in transitioning high school seniors to spiritual involvement in college.

Joel Bratcher - BSM Director at Texas A&M with a large ministry and seen as a role model in evangelism with International students.

Steve Shadrach - Author of The Fuel and The Flame. Started Student Mobilization and considered an expert in Fund Raising.

George Jacobus - College Minister of a large church based College Ministry at Central Baptist Church in Bryan, Texas at Texas A&M and a leader of the Church College Ministers organization.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Practicing the Ministry of Renewal in College Ministry

As stated earlier, in addition to being committed to reaching students who have never committed to Christ, we must have an intentional "Ministry of Renewal" where we are encouraging, intentionally connecting to and helping students who came to Christ before college to continue....or return to that commitment. It is not a second class ministry to evangelism.

In our ministry we have had a commitment to specific encouragement of those who had been Christian student leaders in high or church. Here are some things that I believe can be a part of Renewal Ministry:

1. When I met an incoming freshman in the summer who in any way indicated they were very active in their church in some way, I sent them a personal note telling them I believed God could use them on our campus that fall.

2. A couple of weeks before school started, I would send them a letter with an invitation to be part of our Freshmen Leadership Team. It would meet Tuesday at 5 with fun get acquainted activities with other freshmen like them, I would do a leadership tip.

3. Talk about forgiveness and starting over with Christ often and in different ways! I believe many who have been strong believers in high school walk away in college because of some slip-up, moral lapse, etc. Out of guilt, they walk away. They went to a party and someone gave them a beer. They didn't want to look weird...suddenly they had done something they said they wouldn't. They had a sexual experience...they walk away.

4. Highlight leadership.....make a big deal about leadership and leadership opportunities. We put a matted, framed picture of each year's Leadership Team on the Wall....we also put a picture of the previous Year's Freshmen Leadership Team on the wall.

5. When you meet someone in the summer coming to your school who indicates a strong commitment to Christ or Christian service, invite them to do a Sunday on the Committee to help with our Retreat....A Freshmen guys intramural football team and we will do a Bible study each week at our practice.....Could you help with our Tech Team?....Be on my Freshmen Advisory Group which will meet one time a month to help me evaluate our ministry as viewed by freshmen.....would you be interested in being part of our worship band? You could sit in once and see how it works out.

Questions to think about:

1. Are you intentional in giving opportunities to those who expressed previous strong commitments?

2. Do you challenge them individually about how God can use them?

1. Do you do anything intentional aimed at former high school Christian leaders?

2. Do you affirm and challenge people for how God might could use them?

2. Are you affirming and challenging to these student about how God can use them on campus or in your church?