Wednesday, December 31, 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 Collegiate Ministry classes say the classes are much 8 or 10 rather than 20 or 30. I was fortunate enough to serve in a College Ministry position where we had multiple staff members. When we had a vacancy, I would usually receive 20 resumes without much or even any effort. The word would spread even before I would start looking. 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 is 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 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 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. 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, December 30, 2014

2nd Most Read Blog 2014: 10 Influential Voices in College Ministry

There is an article circulating listing what one survey described as the "20 Most Influential Evangelicals". One of these 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 - Colleg 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 headquartered at Lifeway 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 Mobilazation 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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The 2 Biggest Killers of College Ministers

Some would say low pay which forces some out of College Ministry is the number one killer of College Ministers. Others would say it is the long and sometimes crazy hours. Or, an argument can be made for growing older and no longer being able to relate to college students effectively. A good case can be made for all of these and most of us know someone that has left for one of these reasons. But, I don't believe either of these is "the main killer".

The two top killers are Comparison and Feeling Alone.

Comparison - Most of us who do or have done College Ministry know the feeling of working yourself silly and not seeing the response you hoped to see and seeing another ministry with bigger crowds. Or, we are wrestling with tough issues and other ministries just seem to glide along each year. Comparison is evil. Comparison is wrong. Comparison is UN-Christian! I do it all the time!! Maybe, I'm the only out of control sinner in College Ministry...maybe. Here are some things to remind yourself when you get into comparisons.

1. You never know all that is going on in another ministry.

2. Numbers represent people, but a big crowd is not all there is to it. One of my students suggested we name our worship band, Free Beer. He said we could advertise "Free Beer at the BCM Thursday Night!". I think we would have had a great crowd that one night. A crowd is not the only measure of success.

3. Long haul faithfulness beats short term flashes. Sometimes, we compare ourselves to the "latest hot thing". Your ministry was there doing well long before the flash and will likely be there going strong after the flash has faded or even ceased.

4. Comparison tempts you to do things that don't fit with your skills or even cause you to be continually changing your ministry instead of building on proven things.

Feeling Alone or No One Else Cares - As much of a killer as Comparison is, I believe feeling alone and no one else cares is ten times worse! I think it is the number one killer of College Ministers. People leaving College Ministry because of low salaries and needing to provide for growing families, etc is just a symptom of feeling no one cares. "If people cared, they would provide us with decent salaries". "If people cared, I would have a decent budget for this campus". Things to remember and do when you feel no one cares.

1. Have one or two friends in College Ministry you can talk to every week and fuss totally honest with.

2. Don't isolate yourself just with college students and your ministry. Our crazy hours and schedule tend to take us out of "the normal adult world". Several years ago, my wife said to me, "You don't know how to talk to anyone but college students". I was working on campus all week and teach college student Sunday School. I started teaching an adult class and suddenly had more friends! I found out others cared and they learned some rings to care about.

3. Go to regional and national conferences that re-juvenate you, remind you of your calling, and connect you with old and new friends.

4. Take a day or two off occasionally. The Bible seems to say it is a sin to work 7 days a week.....except if you are in the ministry? I have a friend who works like crazy....then, he takes a couple days off and goes hunting. For a period of years, I took Tueaday afternoon off and scheduled no campus events on Tueaday night. I picked my girls up at school AND we even ate supper at a normal time. I worked hard and lots....just not on Tueaday afternoons and night.

My observations and that of others, that know far more than I do, indicates that the strongest, largest or most successful College Ministries are run by College Ministers who have been in it long term. To have lots of strong College Ministries, we need to have more College Ministers who are not killed out of College Ministry by Comparison and feeling No One Cares!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

College Ministry and Fund Raising

Just before I was officially elected to serve in my first Campus Ministry position many years ago, I said, "Will I have to raise money, because I don't think I would be very good at it". The person who would be my supervisor told me no.

Seven years later I was one of five people making up an executive committee charged with raising one million dollars for a College Ministry endowment for Arkansas. Some years after that, as our staff began to be cut due to funding changes, I knew I had to either cut our ministry back or raise some salary money for staff. A few years after that, I was helping to lead the campaign to build a larger Baptist Center on campus.

My mentor and boss meant it when he said I would not have to raise money.....that was then....the times, they changed quickly. if you are thinking you were called to ministry, not fund raising...get over it. First of all, people no longer give their money blindly to one Christian entity. They now want to decide where it is going and if it is being used well. We can lament that change or simply move on. Secondly, College Ministry is receiving cuts in funding either for budgets or staff or both.

We can try to do more with less, cut back our ministries.....or, realize we need to raise funds. Here are some different thoughts and ideas.

1. End of the Year Giving is huge!

Most of us in ministry don't know the concept of Christmas bonuses or year end profit sharing. There are people who literally receive thousands of dollars in the last few days of the year. Some even receive a check the afternoon of December 31 and they don't know what it will be until it reaches their hand. Many of them in the next few moments write checks to different causes in which they believe and then either mail or hand deliver them. Does it even occur to them to consider your ministry? Are they aware of your needs? Are you available on December 31?

2. People like to give to provide things they appreciate or use.

Providing a list of things needed allows people to pick something that they want to provide for you. Someone may know how important their copier, they like giving you the money to buy a copier. Or, listing the cost of different needed items allows someone to pick an item and give that amount.

3. Provide a list of Possible Ministry Projects and Their Cost.

Outreach Cookout - $500; Scholarships to retreat for Internationals - $300; Speaker for Fall Retreat - $1,000.

4. Would you be ONE of ONE Hundred?

I once picked 99 people out of our Alumni list and sent them a letter asking them to be 1 of 100 to give $25 for a project I needed to fund. I gave the first $25. Almost all of them did and a few gave more which took care of the few who did not.

No; you don't want people running and hiding when they see you coming. But, you have a worthy cause and there are right times and right ways to help fund it. Or, you can always just cut back!

Oh yeah...send a handwritten thank you note and provide the needed Tax information for them!

Monday, December 15, 2014

An End of the Year Task for College Ministers

Say thanks to lots of people who deserve to hear it.

Students are gone or leaving and you are looking forward to a breather. But, one more thing needs to be done. Say thanks to people who have helped make your ministry possible this semester and calendar year. Churches have given to your ministry, alums and other supporters have sent checks. Some people have just been extra supportive to you when times were hard.

What are some different ways to say thanks?

-Personal, handwritten notes are always appropriate.

-A letter detailing some of the great things that happened this past semester....personalized or mass produced.

-A visit. Stop by someone's office and say, "I just stopped by to say how much I appreciate you".

-Call someone and say, "I want to take you to lunch".

-A picture Christmas card with a picture of your student group, a picture of your Center, or a picture at some event can be sent to pastors, alums, Individuals, friends, prayer partners.

A colleague and I were visiting the other day and he told of the pastor of a Baptist church with a large College Ministry who said he had never met the Baptist Campus Minister on that campus. Oh my! A visit to that pastor at the end of the year would be a good idea. He could say, "Thanks for what your church is doing to touch college students".

So, make a list and check it twice...who all needs to hear the magic words, "Thank you" from you?

By the way, thanks for giving your life to College Ministry! It is the high calling!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Three Types of College Ministries by Tyler Hoffpauier

Every campus minister I know has a somewhat different philosophy, but I think they fall into three main categories (you can probably think of more).

The Evangelistic Philosophy

Campus ministry is all about evangelism. If we aren't leading students to Christ then we aren't doing our job. After all, campus ministries are the evangelistic arm of the church on the campus. We have to reach students in order to reach more students.

The Future Leaders Philosophy

Campus ministry is about preparing students to be contributors to the church after college. Students in these Ministires are future Sunday School teachers, deacons and worship leaders. Students are exposed to missions and evangelism because those are things future leaders of the church participate in.

The Relational Philosophy

Campus Ministries is all about real relationships. It is the job of the campus minister to demonstrate life on life interaction. The campus minister walks with a group of students from salvation to spiritual maturity. They are a constant companion and a friend who students feel they can share their deepest secrets with. The minister is a guide, role model, mentor and counselor for students. The student then invests in others.

So is Evangelistic, Future Leadership or Relational best? My answer is, YES! I think to some extent campus ministers have to be doing all three. The context of the campus dictates what approach to take.

Tyler Hoffpauier is College Minister Intern at LSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry and a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

4 Elements of Super Large College Ministries YOU Can Do

I recently shared 10 Common Elements of Super Large Campus Based Ministries. Having 10 to 25 staffers is not even a dream for the vast majority of college ministries. A large budget or even a long term College Minister/Director is not on your side right now. But, I'm convinced there are things any ministry can learn and take from the Super Large. Of those 10 common elements, here are four you should consider adding or strengthening for your ministry to develop and grow.

1. Strategic and On-going small group/discipleship ministry

Some thoughts to consider: Do you have a 3 or 4 year plan what you want your students to learn or know? Do you pick some of your best to be small group leaders? Is it obvious to your students that you think it is important?
One ministry I am familiar with requires all their student leaders to be part of a small group regardless of their responsibility or other involvement. Are your groups studying the Bible? Dumb question! There are lots of great books by current Christian authors and leaders. One year in deciding what our campus based small groups would study, we did a survey of what all the college ministry churches were offering....they were all contemporary book studies. Someone must offer Bible study.

2. Intentional plan for reaching freshmen with an intense outreach at the start of the semester

It's too late to go back to the first two weeks of fall. But, even now, should you plan and raise vision for the coming fall? But, what can be done for the start of Spring Semester? Got a list of incoming Freshmen from last August? Maybe some of them aren't feeling so good about first semester choices. The weather is worse, but the field is clearer in January.

3. Do just a few things and do them well

What are the main things you want your ministry to hang it's hat on? There are tons of good things to do. There is a principle I am strongly committed to and that is....You should play to your strengths. What is it that your ministry does best? Or, what is it that you do that no other ministry does or offers? Make the most of those things. Consider if you are doing some things simply because you have always done it.....and the good reason passed a long time ago. Consider what some small tweaks might do to raise the level of your weekly worship meeting or you leader training.

4. Well trained and responsible upperclass leaders

Investment in developing and growing student Leaders pays off now and in the church in years to come. Do you or someone meet weekly with each student leader for encouragement, prayer and evaluation? Help your student leaders see the need to raise up younger leaders who will follow them. You multiply your ministry when you train and develop student leaders.

You don't have to be a Super Large Ministry to do these four things. How are you doing in these four areas?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Save Some Money Now: The Collegiate Ministries 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 very 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 and then it goes up to $160. That includes all sessions, two meals and break times. Plus, there is a special $50 registration for a spouse when registering together. There are hotels within walking distance. 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, author of Not A Fan and God's at War is 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 Trqnsformational 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 be hanging out in the hall there and look forward to visiting with you at the Summit!

Monday, December 1, 2014

10 Elements of Super Large Campus Based College Ministries

This is not a formula. It is not, do these 10 things, even if you can, and you are guaranteed a super large College Ministry. Sometimes, I believe there is just a movement of God that cannot be explained in any other way and certainly not put into a formula. I see College Ministers doing everything right and not seeing a large response. When I served as Campus Minister for the ministry at Arkansas State, we had a large ministry. We did not have a super large ministry. We never reached as many students as I felt we should have. So, I can't give you a magic formula. But, these are common elements that seem to be true in different ones of the super large campus based ministries...not all necessarily have each of these ten. But, these ten show up regularly. I think most of these are true for church based college ministries but, there are some different variables that exist in church based College Ministries.

1. A staff of 10 to 25.

2. A long term, experienced campus director.

3. Significant program budget

4. Strategic, organized and on-going small group/discipleship ministry.

5. Well trained and responsible upperclass student leaders.

6. Adequate meeting space in size and location.

7. Strong speaker and/or excellent worship band or worship leader.

8. Well known on campus with an excellent reputation (momentum).

9. Intentional plan for reaching freshmen with an intensive outreach at the start of school.

10. Do just a few things and do them well.

You may be far from super large. But, perhaps as you look at your ministry, you might say, here are one or two of these we need to work on or add that might take us another step in reaching more students.