Thursday, August 28, 2014

Does God Call Ministers of Music or Worship Leaders?

I am a huge believer in God's call to vocational ministry. I experienced it many years ago beginning in high school and being resolved to some degree in college. I also believe we need to speak about calling to ministry to our students. In our attempt to emphasize everyone's call to service in the Christian life (which I agree with), I think we have "de-emphasized" God's calling to "full time service".

But, within that I have noticed and am trying to figure out a new phenomenon. At the national Collegiate Week done in Glorieta, New Mexico each August by the Lifeway Collegiate office there are 1700 students in attendance. Many of them are leaders in their campus ministry. Steve Masters, BCM Campus Minister at LSU, for the last two years has organized a luncheon for students who have been called to ministry.

At that lunch, they are seated at tables according to their area of calling. It is attended by 80 to 100 students. There are tables for those called to the pastorate, missions, youth ministry, children's, college, etc, etc. Each of those groups had large numbers.....except one.....there was only one student for music ministry. Last year at the luncheon it was similar.

With the great emphasis on music in our worship these days, why does it seem there are fewer feeling called to lead worship?

As some worship leaders have become celebrities, is it seen as beyond what an "ordinary person" can do? A few churches today have gone away from having a permanent Minister of Music or Worship Leader and they bring in different worship bands or worship leaders to lead each week. Are we "de-emphasizing" the music leader as "minister"? Where does that take us?

Are there fewer experiencing a call to lead worship? Should there not be full time worship leaders in churches? Or, are we separating ministry from music?

By the way, I highly, highly recommend Jeff Iorg's book, "Is God Calling Me?". It is a great book to give to students. It is super practical and readable and only 115 pages. I've given it to tons of students.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Should You Speak at Your Weekly Meeting?

I just read an excellent article by Tim Casteel about why you should not speak at your weekly collegiate meeting. I agree with all his points (prep time, exposure to local pastors, etc). I also think there is too much emphasis on College Ministers being speakers or even preachers (yes; I think there is a difference.). My main concern about the emphasis of some on College Ministers as preachers is twofold. First, many are trying to be Louie Giglio....and they aren't! Second, a healthy College Ministry is much more than a weekly large group meeting. If your ministry becomes all about your speaking, it is too centered in one person and lots of very important things are not happening. Plus, it often collapses when that person leaves. It is not built for the long term

So, why should you consider speaking at your weekly meeting? You know your students best and know what questions and concerns they have. You can assign guest speakers different topics out of your knowledge. But, after years of doing that in our our large Lunch Program event, I know how often someone is assigned a topic they are not good with and it shows from start to finish.

Through a process over time, I became the speaker for our large group worship event. Then, some years ago, we had a speaker for our Back-2-School Retreat our students loved. I came up with the plan to have him come speak at our Thursday night event once a month. The thought was he is terrific; our students love him and we will reach even more people at those monthly "special events". I did not tell anyone, but in my mind I thought, if this goes like I think it will, I will raise the money to bring him in on a weekly basis next year.

A crazy thing happened....our attendance went down on the nights he spoke. I am not a better speaker. I know that! But, our students felt like it was not as personal. He was not with them on a daily basis. They could not stop him in the Student Center or campus food court and ask a question about last week's message....or... talk about that personal struggle in their own life.

No one knows your students like you do! No one is as available to them on a daily basis as you are. God uses that relationship.

My best friend in College Ministry who I talk to from 2 or 3 times a week to 2 or 3 times a day does not speak at his weekly event and he has one of the larger ministries in the country. So, it's not a right or wrong question. It is what fits your gifts and strengths and your situation.

Prep time is obviously an argument against your speaking weekly. That's why I always laid out a semester's worth of topics and a rough outline during the summer. Some say, "But, what if some immediate situation arises I need to speak to"? You can always change away from that planned topic and already prepared outline. Then, you have a spare!

Should you speak at your weekly event? The answer is a definite.....maybe!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

4th Most Read Blog 2014: The Most Popular Campus Talk I Ever Gave

I estimate that I have given well over 1,000 campus talks. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is one that has been most quoted, most requested, and most re-printed. I've even walked into campus centers and seen some version of it laying on a handout table. It all started one spring in our "Dead Day Program Planning" meeting. They asked me to come up with a talk that would draw Christians and Non-Christians alike to our first worship event of the fall. Have a title that is "promoteable". Without much discussion and thinking, the group said, "Do something on guy/girl relationships.". I thought we were talking about a one time talk. It became an annual End of the Year talk. Through the years, I was asked to do it as an outreach event on different campuses. After a few years, I quit doing it. Then, someone called and asked me to do it at a Teen Drug Conference. And it came back again. I wish I could say it was explaining the book of Revelation or the plan of salvation or How to Know God's Will.!

Here is the basic outline and you are welcome to take it, improve on it, and use it, if it will ever be of help to you.

7 Red Flags in a Guy/Girl Relationship

1. The two of you are all consumed in each other and all other relationships are neglected.

2. Major differences are ignored or not talked about such as future goals, religious differences and life priorities and goals.

3. There is a drastic change in the sense of responsibility one or both partners has to other commitments. A healthy relationship makes you a better you.

4. Friends and/or family who know you best and love you most disapprove of the relationship.

5. Conflict is avoided at all costs. Healthy relationships learn to express and deal with disagreements.

6. One partner uses the other or demonstrates a lack of respect for the other. This can involve emotional or physical abuse.

7. Physical contact or sexual involvement becomes the central activity or the main part of the relationship. This can be entrapping or make it difficult to know your real feelings.

Some of What the Bible Says About Sex, Relationships, and Marriage:

God is the author of sexuality - Genesis 2:24-25

Sex outside of marriage is harmful. - I Thessalonians 4:3

Genuine love wants what is best for the other person. - I Corinthians 13:4-6

Marriage is a total commitment to one person. - Ephesians 5:28-31

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Most Wonderful Sound to a College Freshman

What is the most wonderful sound to a college freshman? What is it that suddenly makes them feel they are in the right place? What is it they long to hear?

It is the sound of someone calling their name....knowing their name....hearing it makes them feel maybe someone cares.

A freshman came through my door that had been to one of our events a few days earlier. I recognized her and as she came in the door I spoke and called her name. She fell back against the door and said, "That felt wonderful".
She had just come from being part of the biggest most impersonal place she had been in her life.

Some people have the gift of remembering names and can do it with little effort. You like me may not be gifted that way. So, how do you remember and call people by names when you may literally meet 200 in one day and even within one event.

It is simple...CHEAT! Make pictures at Welcome events. Write down names under the picture. Study the pictures. We have passed around pictures in Monday staff meetings naming people and asking, "Who is that"? Use name tags at every event. In fact, we did that all year for our Thursday night large group worship. You don't have to use expensive name tags. Address labels work just fine. I'm all about playing mixer get acquainted games at your worship events those first few weeks. Also, repeat back to a student their name after they tell you. I realized often I was not hearing in the first place. Many came from high schools I knew their mascot and I was able to tie all that together in my mind to remember them.

Remember, everybody likes to go somewhere everybody knows your name!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

College Ministries in the U.S. - Baptist Collegiate Ministry

This the fourth in a series of posts about different College Ministries basic stats (Chi Alpha - 5/13; Cru - 5/17; MBSF - 5/27). Southern Baptists have just released figures for this past school year.

777 Campuses with a Baptist Collegiate Ministry ( A variety of names are used in different states.)

85,306 students involved

3,614 students accepting Christ

$7,607,934 contributions to missions

669 full time staff/377 part time - 1,046 total

205 churches with full time College Ministers

Mark Whitt located at Lifeway Christian Resources in Nashville is the National Coordinator. Historians disagree as to whether the movement began in Texas or Mississippi.

Missional or Attractional?

A friend recently attended a gathering of College Ministers to share ideas. Some of the brightest and best were there. My friend said they basically fell into two categories...either Missional or Attractional. I have never really thought of ministries dividing strictly along those lines.

If your ministry were to be categorized as one of these, which would it be? Is that your intent?

In generalizations, I think deep south ministries tend toward the Attractional as they promote large group worship experiences and other events. The ministries in other parts of the country have to be more outreach oriented simply to survive or exist. Yet, I believe that a ministry that is Attractional can still and should be Missional in outreach to non-believers and "wandering believers".

Be intentional about what your ministry is.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

7 Top Reasons Students Attend a Campus Christian Event the First Time

The first three weeks are the most important of the whole school year in terms of reaching and connecting with new students. So, why do they come the first time? Here is what students in 5 states said.

7. Website - 10%
6. Mail - 12%
5. Social Media - 17%
4. Advertising - 34%
3. Food - 35%
2. An Appealing Event - 46%
1. Someone invited me - 77%

A personal invitation is huge. Having an event your students feel comfortable inviting someone to is key. So, should you NOT do mailings, Facebook posts, and advertising? I believe that often those things are what helps prepare a person to respond positively to that personal invitation. Many students have told me throughout the years, "I've been wanting to come, but I did not know anyone who came".

I believe you must spend "wisely extravagantly" during these first three weeks. Have events that your current students WANT to invite others to attend.

Finally, most students are not automatically "inviters". Teach, train, and encourage your students to invite.

This survey was done in 5 states by Kentucky Baptist Campus Ministers. The percentages equal more than 100% because students were allowed to give multiple responses.