Monday, June 30, 2014

Are You Trying to Make Students Be Just Like You?

One of the real easy temptations in College Ministry is to just reach out to students like you.....or....try to shape students to be just like you.

Have you noticed that many students go to the seminary from which their College Minister graduated or currently favors? This is an example of how, without realizing it, we tend to shape students in our own mold. The problem with this is that it limits our outreach to those students who are not drawn to our particular personality, gifts and ministry style.

One of the basic truths of scripture is that we are a body made up of different parts. When we try to make everyone just like us, we deny the truth of scripture. Are you limiting your ministry to those who want to be just like you? Do students who see things a little differently than you do feel wanted and needed in your ministry?

Look around your ministry. How similar are your students in thought, style, and gifts? Too often students in a particular College Ministry all look the same. In situations I have been familiar with, once you met a student you good easily guess what College Ministry or Church they had connected to. A healthy ministry has a wide variety of people. Remember; who you reach determines who you can and cannot reach. A cheerleader at our University once told me she was not cool enough to attend a particular ministry. I've thought cheerleaders were pretty cool ever since Junior High.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

9 Silly Mistakes for College Ministers

1. Thinking if your ministry is not the largest, it is of no value or failing.

2. Talking a student into taking a leadership position. Usually, you will have to keep talking them into doing it and/or they will quit when you need them most.

3. Hiring someone because of their great resume, but you have no sense of positive chemistry between the two of you.

4. Giving the appearance of playing favorites among the students.

5. Not being aware of how your meetings with students of the opposite sex "appears". You can be totally appropriate, but not look appropriate.

6. Posting stupid stuff on Facebook and Twitter (politics, etc) and no, I don't want to play Candy Crush.

7. Thinking that one bad event or bad week dooms your ministry.

8. Thinking one good event or week has made your ministry.

9. Thinking the outside appearance of a Campus Center does not matter (yard, shrubs, trees, etc). For many, the only impression they have of your ministry is what they see as they pass by.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

How You Doing Big Boy?

When I came to the ministry at Arkansas State many years ago, the students already involved in the ministry did not want me and made that very clear very often. In many ways, it was more personally stressful to me than my year in Vietnam during the war. I even ground my teeth in my sleep which I had not done previously or since. Students would come into my office to tell me they wished I was not there

One of the keys to my emotional survival during that time of extreme criticism was my former College Minister. Dick Bumpass had been my College Minister as a student and was then serving at the Naval Academy. He would call me on the phone and say, "How you doing big boy?" in his Texas accent. I could almost literally hear him leaning back in his chair and just ready to listen. I would unload on him each time he called.

Who do you unload to (besides your spouse)? One of the unfortunate things is that many times College Ministers have no one to unload on, except their spouse. This can place undue stress into the relationship. Sure, you should be honest with your spouse, but they may not need to hear all of it.

If you are an experienced College Minister, I encourage you to be a caller to a newer College Minister or one who has just gone into a stressful situation....ask them, "How you doing big boy?". If you need calls like that, I encourage you to find a friend to whom you can unload without taking it ALL home.

I believe many people quit College Ministry early on because no one mentored them....or at the very least helped them make it through that first stressful year or two.

Who should you call this week?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On Being Faithful.....and Working With International Students

I had lunch with a friend who is on church staff and works with International's not part of his job description, but just an opportunity the Lord gave he and his wife.

He talked about the unmatchable feeling when he was able to baptize one of them in our church. He told of an older retired friend who had worked with International students some years back. The older friend told of receiving a message from an International who he had given a Bible to 30 years ago.....the student had just accepted Christ and wanted him to know.

Thirty years later he learned how God had used something he had done...a simple act....a faithful act. I am reminded we never know how God is using all that we do.....or.....when.

When I stepped away from the ministry at Arkansas State three years ago, I received messages from students I didn't always remember, saying God had used me in their life. I didn't know; I was surprised. God calls us to be faithful, even when we think it's not working. Maybe, thirty years later, you will hear.

Just keep on doing and being what God has called you to!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Doing Summer College Ministry!

What do you do in the summer with students who are in school or around town? Here are some different thoughts/ideas.

1. Do a summer ministry project in town. Enlist students to do a one time ministry event in a housing project.

2. Do a weekly Back yard Bible Club with games and refreshments in a needy area.

3. Sponsor a Beach Party with Volleyball and refreshments in the center of campus.

4. For a weekly event, do an overview of one book of the Bible each week....."8 Books of the Bible in 8 Weeks".

5. Have an Outreach Night where students call, Facebook, and write incoming freshmen.

6. Have s Student Work Day on your Center or meeting area...paint, repair, build a stage, install some extra lighting, make some curtains, clean out and throw away. Wind up with a cookout.

7. Take a group of International students on a one day or overnight sightseeing trip.

8. Enlist students to do a neighborhood survey for a small church one evening from 5:00 p.m. Toll dark.

9. Do a different one of these events each week from now till school.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good Falls Are Made in the Summer!

Good falls are made in the summer has long been a truth understood by those who do College Ministry well. The first thought that brings to mind is outreach to incoming Freshmen. But, there are other parts to that truth. There is repair/updating to facilities, reading/prep for fall speaking, etc. But, one part of working on a good fall is connecting with and or thanking those who have helped you......or could help or benefit your ministry.

A couple of years ago I spoke for a Collegiate Ministers event and I talked about the need for campus administrators to see on-campus College Ministers as peer professionals. I had talked about dressing like a professional for important meetings. The best compliment I got was when one of the young Campus Ministers at the end said, "I'm going to put on my kaki's and go meet the VP of Student Affairs".

My first few days as the new, very young, and very inexperienced Campus Minister at Henderson Stare University I experienced the value of how people could benefit your ministry. I had joined First Baptist Church on Sunday. A lady came through the receiving line, shook my hand and told me to come by her office that week. She worked in the President's Office. I dropped in a couple of days later expecting to chit chat with her for three or four minutes. She greeted me warmly, stood up, threw open the door next to her desk and told the President of the University, "Dr. Garrison, Arliss Dickerson is here". Wow! I had not expected that. Her name was Eilene Arnett and I have never forgotten her.

Lots of people sit on lots of doors it would benefit you and your ministry to walk through. Or, they have and do open doors for you all the time and you need to thank them. Here are some examples and ideas:

-One College Minister I know grills steaks for a lunch for the college recruitment office. They walk students by his campus center.

-Dick Bumpass, BSU Director at Arkansas State many years ago, had a rose garden behind the BSU Center and he took roses to different Administrative Assistants.

-Another College Minister took a week and just drove around his area visiting with pastors...asking for nothing but thanking those who needed thanking and meeting those he had not met. A good week well spent!

Who do you need to thank or meet?

-Is there a janitor that opens a room for you each week?

-Is there a Sunday School class that has fed your students?

-Are there people who fill out the records each week and do helpful stuff that no body sees or seems to appreciate?

There is a difference between using people for your own purposes and developing positive relationships that God can work through. One of the differences is expressing appreciation. Be an "Appreciator" not a "User".