Friday, May 30, 2014

What Are Your Students Like?

It has been said that we attract people just like ourselves. That thought can be funny or even a little depressing when you think about some of the students you have had! But, I do think there is more than a touch of truth in it. We all automatically connect with some people and not so much with others.

Another related principle is students tend to grow to value the things we value and practice. Many years ago I spoke on two or three different campuses for different occasions. In each I was struck by the similarity of the students and the College Minister. On one campus, the Campus Minister was a good athlete and even though not young played a lot of basketball. There was lots of athletic type guys involved. On another campus, the Campus Minister was a musician...played guitar and sang. I was blown away by the number and quality of musicians in that ministry.
I was on another campus where the Campus Minister was always late and know the rest of the story.

What students are you attracting and what message and habits are you reinforcing by your actions?

-Are you usually on time and where you are supposed to be?

-Do you prepare in advance for assignments?

-Do you answer emails, texts, Facebook messages in a timely way (my work email rule is "same day")?

-Do you read the Bible and pray on a daily basis?

-Do you talk to new people or same old same old at ministry events?

-Do you share Christ with lost students?

-Does the correspondence that goes out from your ministry show a level of excellence? The mail people get from you tells them something about your ministry. Are they attracted to your ministry?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Are Your College Ministry Promotional Materials Too "Religious"?

Its the time Of year when you are either thinking about what your promotional materials will look like or you are already handing them out at Freshmen Orientation/Registration events. It may sound like a silly question....."Are they too religious?"...we are a Christian ministry, you know.

Ok, here's the deal. I see lots of College Ministry websites and some printed handouts and I think lots of them are written to preachers or to make bosses happy. Or, they are written to be appealing to students who are serious disciples already. Many speak of discipleship and dealing with serious questions. I am sorry to say I don't think that is where most entering College Freshmen are. Are you just a Discipleship ministry or are you an Outreach ministry? I want to connect with students for Christ who are not coming to college with growing as a Christian as their first priority.

Most are looking for friends, fun activities, service opportunities, and even leadership opportunities. Please hear me, I am not saying sell out on who you are or hide who you are. No; don't be a bait and switch group. But, I want to connect with students who aren't all about scripture memory....yet, or answering life's deepest questions...yet. What about you? With whom are you trying to connect? Do you do fun events...especially at the start of school? Do you offer any special freshmen events? Don't NOT mention Bible study or Discipleship, But, do mention and show activities that might attract someone who needs to go to a Bible study, but might not make that the top of their Freshman want list.

Finally, remember; pictures tell more and better stories than anything else. Do your pictures show students like you are reaching out to? Does anyone look like they are having fun? Is anyone standing on a mountain in a different country? Are they dressed like College students dress? Have the necessary printed text and more pictures....less words more pictures.

Is your promotional piece or website too religious?

College Ministries in the US - MBSF

MBSF or Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship is a College Ministry primarily located in Arkansas. But, there are MBSF ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, California, and Texas. It was started at UA-Monticello (Arkansas)in 1954 by the Pauline Baptist Church. Each ministry is primarily supported by one Missionary Baptist Church with the College Minister being a staff member for that church. In some locations, the pastor of the sponsoring church serves as the Director of the MBSF. On some campuses, they have a campus house or MBSF Center and in other locations they meet at the sponsoring church.

Some Basic Facts:

30 Campuses

Approximately 30 MBSF Directors (full time and part time)

1,000 students involved.

The flagship MBSF ministry continues to be at UA-Monticello where the movement began. They have a large and modern on campus facility there.

This is the third in a series on different College Ministries in the country.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bob Hall - Campus Minister of the year

Our Campus Minister of the Year for 2014 is Dr. Bob Hall, Baptist Campus Minister at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Bob became the Associate Baptist Campus Minister at UT in 1977 and then became the Senior Campus Minister for the Baptist Collegiate Ministry in 1978 and has served there until his retirement this spring. During his ministry, Missions has been at the heart of all he has done. He has long been recognized by his peers as an expert in taking large student teams overseas. In order to better facilitate students serving, in 1989 he established The Foundation of Missions. That endowment is now valued at over $250,000. This was the first ever campus based student missions endowment.

From 2007 to 2009 he led a $1.5 million campaign for a major addition and renovation to the existing Baptist Student Center on the UT campus. During this construction, he enlisted and supervised over 300 volunteers who through their service completed the construction for approximately $900,000.

Bob Hall planted his life on one college campus and from there took and sent students all over the world to share the love of Jesus Christ. He has never sought nor wanted recognition or acclaim. He has simply been faithful to his calling from the Lord and to the students who came to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

For that and many more reasons, Dr. Bob Hall is our Campus Minister of the Year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A College Minister Code of Ethics

Many years ago I had my first experience of seeing what I felt was College Ministers behaving in what I and others considered unethical behavior. Through the years I've said about this or that action, "That's unethical.". But, I realized two things. I had never read or seen any sort of simple ethical statement for College Ministers. Second, many of these College Ministers were young and I genuinely think did not know what they were doing was viewed as unethical. Here's my try at a brief ethical guide.

A College Minister Code of Ethics

As a College Minister, I will strive,

-To serve for God's best for each student and not how they may best serve my ministry or promote my ministry goals.

-To strive for balance and care for my spouse and my children while doing ministry.

-To be fair and honest in dealing with other campus ministries.

-To not sell or advocate the sale of products to students for my personal gain.

-To avoid the appearance and reality of inappropriate male/female relationships.

-To operate at the highest standards of accountability and openness in terms of finances provided to the ministry.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

College Ministries in the U.S. - Cru

This is the second in a series giving basic information about different College Ministries.

Cru formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ was started by Bill and Vonnette Bright in 1951 at UCLA. It now has developed into a variety of ministries in the U.S. and abroad. In 1952 Cru spread to other schools and the Brights accepted their first six staff members. Here are basic facts about Cru's College Ministry in the U.S. today.

-811 Campuses

-48,000 students involved

-2,357 Full time staff or 2,765 counting 1 and 2 year Interns.

In 2000 Bill Bright announced Steve Douglas as his successor in 2001.

These statistics were provided by a Cru staffer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why Are There Fewer College Ministers?

I believe we are seeing a decline in the number of people doing College Ministry and feeling called to what I refer to as, "the high calling"? Friends who speak in or teach seminary Collegiate Ministry classes say the classes are much 8 or 10 rather than 20 or 30. I was fortunate to serve in a College Ministry position where we had multiple staff members. When we had a vacancy, I would usually receive at least 20 resumes without much or even any effort. The word would spread before I even would start looking. I remember the time one man about to graduate from seminary told me he would come and work for free, if I would "hire" him. He had a wife and young baby. I couldn't do that. In recent years, I had to beat the bushes hard to get 4 or 5 resumes. Those responsible for hiring College Ministers for some of the larger more flagship College Ministries are having a harder time finding people with experience who can step into those roles and stay long term.

What has changed...are there fewer College Ministers....and if so, Why? I think it is not one thing, but a combination of events...some related...others more random.

-The emphasis on church planting seems to be drowning out the call to other ministries.

-The downsizing of budgets has eliminated some positions...AND giving the message, no College Ministry positions are out there, so don't even look.

-Many years ago some of the top College Ministers were women. That number has steadily declined due to a greater emphasis on being College MINISTERS. This connects to the debate within some circles of what roles women can fill in ministry. Also, many women have served in Associate roles and many of these positions have been eliminated due to budget cuts.

-In denominational College Ministry, there is a greater emphasis on College Ministers preaching every Sunday to help inform people and promote the denomination. This has had two effects:

1. College Ministers must be able to preach. In the past, many College Ministers did not see themselves as preachers or feel comfortable in that role. This requirement is moving some toward church staff roles where preaching is not part of the expectation.

2. Families of College Ministers report increased stress and strain on families due to a long hard week on campus and then husbands being gone all day Sunday to preach somewhere.....then, it's Monday again.

-As giving has declined in many situations College Ministers often don't have the medical and health care benefits that church staffs receive. So, as families have grown, braces are needed, etc, etc, church staff looks better and better.

This is discouraging....I don't like what I just read...and....I wrote it! What's the answer? Obviously,there is no easy and simple answer. Here's a couple of thoughts...none perfect:

1. If College Ministry is important, let's realize that we have to pay for what we get what you pay for.

2. Consider more targeted College Ministries. Perhaps, it means going part time on some campuses in order to provide better salaries for staffers for the targeted campuses. I know the can of worms that opens.

3. If College Ministers have to preach every Sunday, every Friday is a no work day. Just be aware that you have cut the campus work time down. My church staff is off on Friday cause they work Sundays.

4. Give honor and blessing to College Ministers in every time and way possible. College Ministers often feel lonely and unappreciated. I was blessed to serve in a situation where I always felt appreciated and cared about.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Different College Ministries in the U.S. - Chi Alpha

Those of us who do College Ministry are always interested in who is doing what and where. Over the next weeks I hope to be able to post some facts and figures about different ministries. I would be grateful for any information any of you might provide. I don't plan to editorialize....just provide the facts.


Chi Alpha is the College Ministry sponsored by the Assemblies of God. It started in 1953 at what was then Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield and is now Missouri State University. Their name derives from 2 Corinthians 5:20, "We are therefore Christ's ambassadors...". Their website is Recently in announcing a new leader, they reported the following basic figures.

312 Groups

765 Affiliated Staff

28,000 students involved

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The National Collegiate Ministries Summit

The Summit will take place April 29 - May 1, 2015 in Nashville. It is for all who do College Ministry. There are plenary sessions, Mega Seminars and Idea Labs. Join 500 other campus based, church based and volunteers for this once every three year conference. Put it on your calendar for next year and put it in your budget now.

More information to come soon. I hope to see you there!

Monday, May 5, 2014

"It's the Details that Make Things Special"......My Wife Said It.

My wife is good at doing special events for large groups. She coordinated our weekly Outreach Lunch Program on campus for years that fed up to 300 students at a time. When there wasn't a guest church to do the meal, she fixed it with some help. She and and a group of 5 or 6 ladies do a once a quarter very nice dinner at our church with a program for up to 150 ladies. In talking about some of those events this weekend she said, "It's the details that make it special".

I believe that is true about everything. So, in your ministry....what details need some attention?

-In your weekly large group event, what is one detail that needs fixing? What is one small detail that could be be added that would be an enhancement?

-In your speaking is there one detail that detracts from your effectiveness? Is there one small thing you could add or do differently to make preparation more effective?

-If you have a Center or a room or an area for your meetings, what is one detail that would make it much more attractive or appealing? What's the one small detail that you don't notice that others do....and it's not a good thing?

-What's one small detail thing your could do for your spouse or kids this week?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

End of School Year Events

Someone asked me what my favorite food was. I said, "a left-over hamburger after the End of the Year Cookout". There is either a sense of satisfaction at the end of a campus year done well or.....thank goodness that mess of a year is over! The campus where I used to serve is having their End of the Year Cookout today. I'm not attending or a part of it, but I still enjoyed knowing it was today. I might eat a hamburger late tonight.

For most, it's too late to think about what end of the year events should be, look like, or accomplish this year. But, this may be a good time to think about next year's event. Or, you might even fine tune one you have scheduled for soon.

I had the privilege yesterday of attending an Appreciation Luncheon for all the churches and volunteers who had provided meals for the campus ministry's weekly outreach lunch program. A nice meal was served by students. Students gave testimonies about what it had meant in their spiritual life or connection. A brief video was shown with pictures of students listing the places they will serve in missions and ministry this summer. When it was over and they had left, most had already signed up to do it again next year, plus, they knew a lot more about what they were supporting. Is there some group you should hold an Appreciation Luncheon for?

One of the truths of College Ministry is that students tend to disappear as the semester moves toward it's conclusion. There are papers to write, make-up tests to be done and maybe even Chapter One to be read. They haven't left the ministry.....they just haven't been there. A special event at the end can help them re-connect before leaving for the summer. I always believed if you did not see a student the last month of school (no matter what the reason), you likely would not see them in the fall. For many years we did a big Cookout with even some "Olympic games" competition. In later years it became simply a cookout with some fun reocgnitions and praying over those who would be serving in Summer Ministry. Seniors who are gaduating are prayed over. A favorite thing of mine was asking who was getting married that summer and we would recognize them and have a special time of prayer for them.

A friend has a weekly event called The Gathering. Last week he had an event called "The Scattering". There the focus was on commissioning and praying over students who will serve in ministry this summer. A challenge was issued for all to walk with the Lord throughout the summer. An event such as this also helps other students begin to think how they might spend NEXT summer. The seeds of calling for the future can be planted.

A banquet is the concluding event for some. Awards can be given. God's movement in people's lives is shared. It is a fun and formal event with a spiritual purpose.

Sending graduating seniors off can be a separate event too. Several years ago we began hosting a cookout at our house for all the graduating seniors. It was all fun and relaxation, except, there was a 2 minute speech from me before the blessing. Here's my points: 1. Take what you have learned to do here and use it in a church wherever you go. 2. Remember, that much of what you have benefitted from has been made possible by alums who give $25 or more per year to our Alumni Fund. 3. You can eat and run or hang around and visit as long as you want; I'm going to bed about 11.

Questions to ask about your End of Year Events:

1. Are we re-connecting students at the end?

2. Are we thanking people who need to be thanked?

3. Are we planting seeds for next year and even years to come?

4. Are we celebrating what God has done this school year?