Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Weekly Freshmen Event

I am a big fan of a weekly freshmen event. It can be a freshmen only Bible study group. Or, it can be a large group event. Here is one model of such an event:

Some years ago, we began to do a Freshmen Night that met weekly on Monday nights. Each session started with a large group gathering where we did a time of worship and did some general announcements. We then split into Freshmen Family Group Bible studies led by an upperclass leader with an assistant leader or host (one being male and one being female). The freshmen usually wind up calling them mom and dad. The Bible studies are super practical and relate to specific freshmen needs. Each Family Group usually has some sort of light refreshments or even pizza now and then. Throughout the semester, they meet for some fun event, such as Freshmen Night at the Fair, etc.

Later on, we transitioned to having a freshmen band that led worship during the opening large group time. This also served to enlist more freshmen and to serve as a developmental process for our worship band that led worship for our everyone worship event on Thursday night. The last year or so, we have done fun, get acquainted and team games during the large group time. This came out of a feeling that students were not getting to know enough people outside their own Family Group.

Could you be reaching more freshmen with a specific Freshmen Night? Or, instead of a weekly event for a whole semester, what about doing one the first 3 or 4 weeks of school with some food, fun games and addressing some specific freshmen needs with spiritual truths?

Freshmen are looking for fun and friends. Freshmen have time availability. The majority of freshmen active in church during their high school senior year have no spiritual connection in college. Many freshmen shipwreck their life during the first few weeks of their freshmen year...your ministry can be a lifeboat that God uses! Students can come to Christ!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Improve Your Ministry and Save Some Money Now: The Collegiate Summit

Through the years the most helpful thing in improving my campus ministry and maintaining my own emotional health has been periodic gatherings with other College Ministers who see things like I do AND those who see things differently than I do. One of my all time favorites is the National Collegiate Ministries Summit held in Nashville once every three years. It will be April 29-May 1 (Wednesday-Friday). So, who will be there? Well, a whole bunch of Baptists will be, but, it's not just for Baptists....and most of them are friendly. There will even be some breakouts for volunteers and part-time folks.

The early bird registration cost is $125 until January 14 when it goes up to $160. That includes two meals and break times. Plus, there is a special $50 registration for a spouse when registered together. There are hotels within walking distance with special Summit prices. Or, you can sleep on someone's couch. To register, to see a full schedule, etc, go to Lifeway Christian resources events. Give your budget a break by registering in this calendar year and save a little by registering early.

In addition to Breakouts, Affinity groups and just good hallway conversations, here are some of the folks who will be speaking.

-Kyle Idleman, Teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.

-John Dickerson, author of The Great Evangelical Recession and regular contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.

-Michael Kelley, author of Transformational Discipleship and Tough Sayings of Jesus and favorite collegiate event speaker.

-Rickey Chelette, known for speaking to thousands of young adults each year about sexual identity issues.

-Dave Hunt, well known Nashville musician and former College Minister returns by popular demand as Worship Leader.

I will look forward to visiting with you at the Summit!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Associate BSU Director for Mississippi College

Mississippi College, a Baptist University in Clinton MS, is looking for a full time Associate BSU Director (male or female). A Master of Divinity or Master of Arts degree is preferred. Interested candidates should send resumes to Ben Maddox at This is a fully funded position with benefits.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Single Most Effective Freshmen Event

The single most effective, one time Freshmen event is Freshmen Survival. Freshmen Survival is an idea that a Campus Minister in Texas by the name of Dave Jobe developed. As it often happens, it developed out of a need and opportunity. The campus where Dave served as Baptist Campus Minister would open the dorms for freshmen a week before classes started, but they did not have many activites for the freshmen. So, Dave started a 3 day Freshmen Survival.

There were fun activities, small groups, seminars, etc. It was a huge hit. Dave's ministry grew. Some others in Texas picked up on it. A few years later a group of College Ministers met in Arkansas for 3 days to throw around ideas and learn from each other. Dave shared his Freshmen Survival. The room lit up. Several of us began to talk the possibilities. Out of that one idea came an event that was one of the two most significant ideas/events in growing our ministry in a significant way (the other was Freshmen Night).

There are two approaches to Freshmen Survival. Some do all weeekend and wind up on Sunday with the different Family groups attending one of the local churches together. Southern Mississippi where Lloyd Lunceford is the BSU Director for some years even had Freshmen Survival the first weekend and Transfer Survival the second weekend. The other approach many have used is the one day event ranging in time from 5 to 8 hours.

The single day event contains fun get acquainted events, survival seminars, and a meal. Some even conclude with a concert or brief worship time. Seminars have topics like "Dating ASU Style", "Spiritual Survival", "Cheap Eats and Discounts", "Pros and Cons of Joining a Greek Organization", "How to Make it in College". Family groups are a key part where students get to know each other and the Gospel is shared. Yes; students have made professions of faith at Survival events. Another key part is the meal (pizza of course) because we found that students tend to relax more and open up more during and following the meal. Yes; pizza works magic with college students. Another fun favorite is the Freshmen Olympics with wacky games with Family Groups competing against each other.

Some have a guest speaker for Survival who does the different topics such as Spiritual, Academic, and Social Survival. I personally lean toward the concept of those being done during the different seminars they get to choose. But, a huge key to Survival is your well trained upperclass students leading the the different events and connecting with them personally.

Should you be doing some version of Freshmen Survival this fall? Thanks to Dave Jobe many of the larger Baptist Collegiate Ministries use this key event. Yes; I still believe it is the single most effective Freshmen event!

Friday, July 18, 2014

College Minister Sought for University of Louisville

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is considering candidates for the Campus Missionary position at the University of Louisville. A Master of Divinity degree or higher at an SBC Seminary is preferred. Send a resume and cover letter or address questions to Brian Combs ( This is a fully funded position.

Mizzou Campus Ministry Position

Jerry Carmichael, BSU Campus Minister at the University of Missouri, is looking for an Associate Campus Minister. Jerry will continue to oversee the ministry and extensive alumni and church involvement, as well as being the primary fund raiser for the ministry. The Associate Campus Minister would have direct involvement with the daily on-going ministry with students. This position would involve raising all or part of your salary, at least in the beginning. If you are interested in knowing more, contact Jerry at or 573.808.3302.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"50% of Freshmen Drop Out"?

In doing some reading on an intentional Freshmen Ministry, one writer (sorry I dont remember which) said something like, "If you want 100 freshmen involved, you have to enlist 200; 50% will drop out.". One of my huge frustrations through the years has been seeing freshmen disappear.

Why do Freshmen drop out?
-Some attend events looking for friends....if they don't connect relationally, they go elsewhere.

-Some get a part time job after a couple of weeks and their schedule and time availability change completely.

-But, the biggest departure point for us always seemed to be about the halfway point of the semester....when the seriousness of school and the reality of losing a scholarship really kicked in.

So, what do you do? One thing to do is keep records. Do you have a sign in list for your Freshmen events? Or, do your Freshmen Bible Study leaders keep a list of who is there and who is not?

I am convinced that that many miss a week or two because of prepping for a big test, etc and either they are not missed OR they are embarrassed to come. I genuinely believe those two things are key. No body missed me or I'm embarrassed to go back. Staying connected is huge.

A third huge drop out point for Freshmen is when their Freshmen groups end. Some argue that it is best to have specialized Freshmen groups meet following your main weekly event instead of on another night. That way they become attached to the main event that they can attend throughout their college years....not just a Freshmen event that will end at the end of a semester or at the end of freshmen year.

Do 50% of freshmen drop out?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Single Most Effective Way to Grow or Enlarge a College Ministry

I have long believed the single most effective way to grow or enlarge your College Ministry is with an intentional and specific Freshmen Ministry. Several years ago in our ministry at Arkansas State we began to do a Freshmen Night each Monday with Family Groups led by upperclassmen. Recently I read, "Drop What You're Doing and Build a Movement" by Tim Casteel, Cru Director at the University of Arkansas. He gives in great detail, with other attached articles, a specific plan for developing and organizing a Freshmen Ministry. I recommend this article to you.

10 of My How and Why Do Freshmen Ministry:

1. Many college freshmen shipwreck their lives in their first semester of college. Your ministry can be a lifeguard.

2. Freshmen are looking for friends and fun.
-Have fun Freshmen events the first two weeks.
-Combine fun and spiritual throughout the fall.

3. I used to think sharp sophomores were great to lead Freshmen groups....they had just been there and survived.....I was wrong!
-Their immaturity would pop up at just the wrong time.
-We found many were doing it for the position not the ministry.

4. Do practical Bible studies that help freshmen with key issues.
-Dealing with Doubt
-Making Good Decisions
-Accepting Forgiveness

5. Go looking for missing freshmen after Reality Week. College seems like summer camp at the beginning of the fall semester. Everybody is having Welcome Parties and there is free food everywhere. But, about 2 or 3 weeks in, there comes the first set of quits being fun. It so shell shocks many freshmen who just failed their first test ever. They immediately drop everything they were doing.
-Go find and re-enlist them.

6. Connect with as many incoming Freshmen as possible throughout the summer.
-Other groups are looking for them and connecting with them.
-These freshmen can bring other freshmen to your start of school events.

7. Spend wisely Extravagantly on freshmen events at the start of school.
-How does the quality of your event compare to the quality of a Greek Rush party?

8. Connect personally with freshmen (I don't care how old you are.)
-Invite 3 or 4 at a time for a coke and a visit (I kept my fridge stocked with cokes.)
-Eat lunch in the cafeteria or food court with a table full of freshmen as often as possible.

9. Draw out some freshmen for extra investment as the semester progresses.
-Some will just naturally rise to the top.
-Some will come to you asking for more.

10. Before school starts send an invitation to some freshmen inviting them to be part of a Freshmen Leasership Team for the purpose of growing as a leader and developing friendships with other students who want to grow as a leader.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Biggest Unanswered Question in College Ministry Today

There are a lot of unanswered questions in College Ministry today. Will churches and denominations continue to make cuts in College Ministry? Will State and private colleges and universities continue to make policies that limit Christian Ministries or force them to leave campus? As huge as these and other questions might be, I don't think they are the biggest.

In my mind, the single biggest question in College Ministry today is, "Will churches aimed primarily or solely at college students develop commitment to church after college days?".

Many years ago, a pastor told me he did not like our campus based ministry because his students didn't like his church after attending a campus ministry. His point was that students became "spoiled" to everything being aimed at them and for them. Of course, I responded with all we did to point students to the church, not just to our ministry. But, is there truth in what he said? We all like things tailored to us.

In our great concern for the growing loss of 20somethings to the church, one of the answers has been "start campus based churches". In fact, some now advocate that as the only answer. What will campus based churches produce 20 years from now in terms of church attendance, lay leadership in churches and most importantly on-going relationship with the Lord? I don't know. In fact, no one knows.

I was leading a workshop for a group of Sunday School teachers who taught university students in a traditional church. In the midst of our discussion, one of the volunteers said, "What students do about church after college is not our concern". I wholeheartedly disagreed then and do now. Perhaps, he was saying we can't control what they do after college when it comes to church. I agree with that.

But, part of what we do in reaching college students for Christ must be pointing them to the they can serve, how they can give, how God would use them.....and doing it as part of a church....not a Lone Ranger in faith. Remember the new survey category...."spiritual, but not religious". That's not a goal of any College Ministry....that I know of.

Will "College Student Only" churches point students to church later in life? I don't body does.

Friday, July 11, 2014

What You Ask for affects What You Get

Summer is a time of raising funds and thanking friends who support College Ministry. Seasoned fund Raisers categorize their donors according to their ability to give, what they have given in the past, etc. They have learned that asking for too Little is just as much a mistake as asking for too much. Some years ago I was involved in a campaign to raise a million dollars for College Ministry in Arkansas. A general mailing was sent out and it mentioned giving something like a hundred dollars. Return mail brought a check for $100 from a supporter who we had planned to ask for $50,000. He was done. He had done what we asked. As far as I know, he never made an additional gift.

In a general mailing one way to do that is to list different needs. They can vary from a magazine subscription to a new copy machine to a month's salary for an Assistant Campus Minister, etc. A "Wish List" of needed items in a variety of prices give people the opportunity and awareness to give something meaningful to them and in a price category that fits their ability and willingness to give.

One ministry that I know of sends out a list of all of their start of school outreach events and what each will cost. You could choose to sponsor the Hamburger Cookout for the football team at $500 or the $50 for the 100 flyers, etc.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

YOU Are the Biggest Asset of Your Ministry!

You are the main thing your College Ministry has going for it.....pretty scary huh! God created you with specific gifts and abilities. So, make sure you are utilizing them to the fullest. Don't slight your strengths to work on your weaknesses. Don't ignore your weaknesses, but don't let them keep you from being the best you. If you are a speaker, then spend time preparing to speak. If you are an organizer, spend time organizing. this is not an excuse to do poorly in other areas. But, it is a reminder that you need to plan and work in a way that utilizes your strengths/gifts to the max.

You are the FACE of your ministry. Parents look for people to be a role model and an example to their sons and daughters. I've seen ministries that parents told their kids to stay away from.....because of the leader. Potential financial supporters want to invest in the ministry of some one in whom they believe. Most great ministries have an identifying face. You are that face. People identify with people. You must be responsible to embody the ministry that you lead.

One year our ministry had large professionally printed posters all around campus. I got on an elevator in a men's dorm and someone had taped one of our posters on the wall of the elevator. I got off the elevator at my floor. A few minutes later, I got back on the same elevator....someone had spit on the picture of me. I took it that my face had not drawn them to our ministry. For better or worse, you are the is is is a is a stewardship.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Bad High School English Teacher!

I had a bad high school English teacher. She was demanding. She made us memorize poetry. She kept fussing at us to have more curiosity about things. She didn't take excuses. She expected us to do what she assigned. We didn't like her much!

I'm not sure what year later that it dawned on me that she was a great teacher. Her main goal was not that we like her. Her main goal was that we learn and be better off as a result of her class. A great temptation in College Ministry is to want students to like much that you don't expect a lot from them and you don't challenge them about some things. For several years I had one year Assistants or Interns. I would always caution them about the temptation to settle for being liked....instead of being respected.

One of the great pluses of being an older Campus Minister is you have realized you are passed your students thinking you are probably passed some years before you thought it did too. But, They can respect you more and more each year. And, it might not even dawn on them till sometime after college how much you meant to them.

Are you will willing to tell them things they don't want to hear? Are you willing to push them a little farther? What about when they tell you they didn't read that book they just reported? Respect is a whole lot more important than being liked. Respect lasts longer than cool....and what earns respect doesn't change like what's cool does each year.

By the way, I can still quote some of that poetry. "In this secluded space oh miracle of grace, no mortal eye but mine hath seen that face......"