Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve Giving and College Ministry

Some years ago, a man I did not know called me on New Years Eve morning. He said, "Could I buy your lunch?". Being a College Minister I probably said something like, "Oh boy!". He named a well known and popular restaurant and said he would be wearing khakis and a white shirt. It didn't seem like a potential robbery to me.

I met him at the appointed time and we had a nice lunch and visit. He told me of a brother who had been a foreign missionary with whom I was vaguely familiar and a daughter that had come to our Outreach Lunch Program some as a commuter. He said he appreciated people who had given their life to the ministry. At the end of the lunch he gave me a check for $1,000 for our ministry. I was blown away. He gave regularly after that.

I have always wondered what if I had not been available that New Years Eve day.

I am acquainted with someone whose company hands out profit sharing partnership checks mid or late afternoon New Years Eve day. They have no idea how much it will be until they receive it. He and his wife immediately make some decisions about how much of it they will give to their church and they have also given generously of it to our ministry. Often, he will go around and drop off the checks. But, a couple of years ago, they mailed the checks knowing that if they were postmarked New Years Eve, they would receive a tax deduction for the very generous gift and the ministries would use it just the same.

After several weeks of not receiving any acknowledgement of their gift, they called to learn it had never been received....evidently, it had been lost in the mail. They now prefer a physical handoff.

After my New Years Eve lunch invitation when I served on a local campus, I made it a practice to be in my office and or to have a message on our Ministry phone which said something like, "Happy New Year. Today is New Years Eve and I am running some errands at the moment, please call me on my cell phone. I'm not far away. Here is my number 870.761....."

Is someone from your ministry available to go to lunch or receive a check on New Years Eve?

Besides sending a thank you....make sure you send your contributors a statement they can use for tax purposes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Value of a Personal, Handwritten Note

This week Chris Larmoyeux, the pastor of an Arkansas church, posted on Facebook a picture of a note he had found in a box of college stuff from the 90's.

It was a note from Darrell Cook (Now Baptist Campus Minister at Virginia Tech.), who then served as Associate BCM Director at Arkansas State University. The note had been written to the then high school senior who had visited the BCM Center on his college campus visit. The note invited him to be part of the ministry, if he chose Arkansas State. The pastor went on to say how the ministry had been used in his growth, calling and meeting his wife.

I am a huge believer in writing personal notes, rather than just doing texts, phone calls, emails, Facebook, etc. Although, I definitely believe there is a place for all of them.

1. A handwritten note communicates a personal touch.

2. A handwritten note to a student is often seen by their parents which has a variety of good effects.

3. A handwritten note can be brief but draw atrention to an enclosed brochure or flyer that might not get as much attention if mailed alone. (The pastor also posted a picture of the brochure about the ministry's Freshmen Survival event.).

4. A handwritten note Indicates a personal interest by the College Minister.

5. A handwritten note to a financial contributor communicates a greater sense of gratitude than a form letter.

6. A hand written note can be just three or four sentences and communicate way more than a printed letter.

Some years ago I read of a congressman who never let a letter to a constituent be mailed without his quickly adding a hand written Post Script. Most of the letters were a form letter that had been customized, but he personalized each one.

"I Paul write this greeting in my own hand..." 2 Thessalonians 3:17 NIV

Monday, December 14, 2015

Teaching and Modeling Excellence in Your College Ministry

In my previous Blog I said that one of my non-Negotiables was teaching and expecting excellence. I gave the, to some, silly....but true......example of how for our Outreach Lunch Program, we put the fork on the left (on the folded napkin)of where the plate would go. And, we put the knife on the right of the plate with the cutting edge toward the plate. One out-going Lunch Team Leader even presented their successor with a chart showing the correct place for all pieces of silverware. That illustrates my first point about teaching excellence.

1. Excellence is taught in little things.
We could argue that where the fork goes doesn't matter...just so they have a fork. But, if we are sloppy in little things, why do we suddenly expect excellence in big things. Coaches say, "You play the way you practice.".

2. Don't ever expect something from your students that you don't model yourself.
Our students are watching and listening to us all the time. We may be teaching the most when we least realize it.
Are you on time? When you tell your students you will do something, do you do it?

3. If you have a facility, Center or room, it should look it's best.
It may be old, but it can be clean and even freshly painted. Or, if there are chairs randomly stacked around during our event, does that present a picture of excellence? The rows can be neat and symmetrical (yes; I'm a nut about how the chairs are arranged.).

4. Evaluating regularly is a part of teaching excellence.
It says we are always trying to get better.

5. Apologize to a student when you need to.
Sometimes, we will forget to do something we said we would. When we apologize, that says we take it seriously.

I don't think Jesus ever said to the disciples, "Guys, second and third best is ok.". Yet, we say that when we don't attempt to model and expect excellence.

Friday, December 11, 2015

What Are The Non-Negotiables for Your College Ministry?

There are so many things we are asked to do and just things that come our way each day we can lose the main thing. Have you thought about what your non-Negotiables are? Another way to say it might be, what are the basics and these things must happen?

Some years ago after refusing to do so prevously, we made the decision to enter one of our students in the Homecoming Queen and Court voting. She was selected to the was the first time a religious group nominee had been selected to the court. It was amazing the positive doors it opened for our ministry with the school and opportunities it provided. However, along with that came the invitations to enter the barbecue competition, the Greek Bowling Tournament, etc, etc. None of these were bad things, but it was easy to see the requests and "opportunities" could be overwhelming. I was reminded of the freshman girl who told me that her mom said when she came to college, "Remember to keep the main thing the main thing.". It was at that point I realized the importance of articulating your non-Negotiables and working to be true to them.

Some of my Non-Negotiables:

1. We are a Christian ministry.....not a campus club. Be true to the Gospel.
There are a ton of things we can do that are good, wholesome, and healthy....but they are not the main thing we are here to do.

2. Enlist and train student leaders.
The day we stop keeping that central we have begun the end of our ministry.

3. Try to reach a variety of students.
There are all kinds of students here....we are trying to reach all kinds.

4. Tweak...don't strafe and burn.
Some ministries seem to start over every year. There are no constants. I believe that is damaging to your purpose as well as to students simply knowing what to expect. Till we get it perfect, there are always things that need adjusting and cleaning up. But, we don't start over every year.

5. Be grateful...write thank You's.
Never take for granted those who help you and support you. Some thank You's need to be written daily and some at the end of the year. If you don't know where you and your ministry would be without _________. Then, somebody needs to be thanked and know you are grateful and that what they do matters.

6. Meet one on one with student leaders.
It's part of developing and training leaders. It's part of teaching them to walk with the Lord. It's is one of the ways God will speak to their life.

7. Talk about forgiveness often when I speak.
Many Christian students do something contrary to their commitments and "raising" when they come to college. As a result, they often feel God is done with them or that they now can only be second class followers.

8. Expose students to some of the best.
Early in my Christian walk, it seemed to me that Christian leaders were often not the sharpest and most competent. That was one of the great "Oh-boys" when I went to college and met Christian students and particularly Christian leaders and speakers who were tops. From my earliest years in College Ministry, it has been a goal of mine to expose students to some of the best.

9. Stress excellence!
"That's good enough for government work." is an old saying....through the years, I have felt like for some the idea was, "That's good enough for church work.". If we represent and point students to the one who created the universe, second, third best, and shoddy does not represent Him well. My students sometimes rolled their eyes that for our
Outreach Lunch Program, the forks went on the folded napkin on the left; the knives went on the right of the plate....thrown on the table was not ok. Excellence is not just about big things, it is how we do everything.

But, these are mine; what are yours? If you had to write down right now what your non-Negotiables are, what would you list? Are you letting other things....even good things....squeeze out the non-Negotiables?

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Different Thought on Collegiate Ministry Evaluation and Feedback

I am all about evaluation. Until we do things perfectly and people and situations never change, we alwau have to evaluate and adjust. My boss told me one time that my students were the most critical of all the students who filled out evaluations at at our annual state-wide event. I think that came from the fact that our students were very used to filling out evaluations and being in sessions where we evaluated different aspects of our ministry all the time.

It is my strongly held belief that radical change for a ministry each semester or year is the wrong thing to do. But, I am a big believer in tweaking.

If you are looking for a tool or list of questions to help you as you do semester end evaluations, let me recommend Stephen Lutz's "20 Questions for Mid-Year Evaluation" at

Here is my different thought on evaluation.....we need the input of those students who no longer are part of our ministry. Here is where this thought comes from. I am strongly committed to the concept of a specialized freshmen ministry. I believe it is the single most effective way to reach more students. Some years ago we asked all the Freshmen involved in our Monday night Freshmen Family Groups to fill out an evaluation of all we had done that semester...Bible studies, individual ministry, etc. One thing we were trying to identify was how we could not have as high of an attrition or loss of students as the semester progressed.

The evaluations came back glowing. Our Freshmen Ministry was the best thing that ever happened. So, why did we lose students? Then, it dawned on me. We were asking the wrong students. We were asking the ones who stayed involved.....we needed to be asking the ones who had dropped out! A business would not ask happy customers why some customers were unhappy.

So, three thoughts as you evaluate. First, if you have students fill out evaluations, do one at mid-semester....not just at the end of the semester. This will give you a wider Range of viewpoints than from just those who love everything you are doing and will stay with you no matter what.

Second, it is too late to do mid-semester evaluations now. So, identify some students who started the fall
strongly involved in your ministry and did not finish. Then, ask some of your students who know them to take them a comment or evaluation sheet to fill out......without signing it. You can mail something to them with a return envelope at their home address over the holidays. But, the return rate on this is very low. The personal contact is the best way to get a response.

Third, ask two or three students no longer involved if you can buy their lunch. Tell them your purpose is to continue to make the ministry more effective and their honest feedback would be very helpful.

Evaluation requires a clear-eyed view of things. Perhaps those that are not our fans can give it best. At least, it will point to what they see as lacking in your ministry. However, sometimes students dropped out because they did not share your purpose. Don't let that shake your resolve if you believe in your calling and purpose. One of our student leaders told me one time that several students he had been inviting to our outreach Lunch Program said they would come, if it were not always a Christian speaker or emphasis. My response was, "Then, they won't come because we are doing a Christian event.".

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#Givetwentyfive.....Page 2......#Give25

It has been encouraging to see people spread the word to give $25 to a College Ministry that blessed you during college days.

I received a message from a College Minister who serves on a campus where his is the only ministry. He raises his own salary (with a wife and children) and he said, "I am behind in support right now, so extra one time gifts would be awesome.". He also named a friend in College Ministry who serves in a different state who has taken a par time job to make ends meet.

A former BCM'er posted on her Facebook page that she had "learned Bible study skills, how to lead Bible studies, scripture memorization, outreach, accountability, leadership skills and much more" and challenged her peers to give $25 to a College Ministry that had encouraged them.

Sometimes, I am embarrassed at how little I realized or appreciated people who poured into my life and what that has meant to who I am today and God's call on my life. #Givetwentyfive is just a small way of saying thanks AND seeing that others in college now and the days to come experience what you and I did. It is a way of saying thanks.

I can say from personal experience that when a College Minister receives a check/gift to the ministry (or his salary fund) is encouragement to keep on. Some days one word of encouragement goes a long way!

Would you tell your story and/or encourage your college days friends to give back this month? What if a million College Ministry alums gave $25 this month?

Monday, November 30, 2015

LAST Call for All College Ministry Alums.....Help the Ministry that Helped You.

Many years ago I had a "the light came on" conversation with an alum of our ministry. He said, "Arliss, I would give you some money, but I can't give you enough to help.". I realized a lot of people don't make a gift to a College Ministry because they cannot afford to give $200-$300 or more. They are embarrassed to send a small check and they think what good can $25 do.

At that time, we had 1200 people on our Alumni mailing list. A little quick math told me that if all 1200 gave $25, that would be $30,000! Now, $30,000 would help!! So, we began to ask our alums to give $25 a year. After that first appeal, my favorite response came from am alum who sent a check for $50. He said, "Here is $50 because I know there is no way my roommate sent his $25." We need to give people permission to give a small amount and to see the value of giving a small amount.

How many College Ministry alums are there in the U.S.? How many people have been positively affected by a College Ministry? What if all of them gave $25 this December?

The thought is staggering!!! Let's do some simple math (for me, never simple). If a College Minister had just 125 alums who had been affected by his or her ministry and each gave $25. That is $3,125. That is significant. Most ministries have way more alums than that.

1,000 alums....$25,000! What a difference $25,000 would make to a budget....or to someone raising their own salary. $25 can do that.

December is the month to challenge all who have been positively affected by a College Ministry to give $25 to that ministry. Let's not just challenge people who might give to our ministry....let's challenge all people to give to whatever ministry was a blessing to them.

Remember; if a gift is postmarked by December 31, it is tax deductible.

Isn't there a story somewhere about a little boy with a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread and some crazy amount of people that got fed with it? Jesus used the little.

Monday, November 23, 2015

"College Presidents Defend Importance of Free Speech"

In an article by that title, I was pleased to see presidents at Yale, Williams(Massachusetts)and, Wesleyan College speaking up for the necessity of free speech on college campuses. This discussion has come about due to some widely reported incidents of student groups protesting and even forcing the cancellation of speakers expressing ideas for which they disagreed.

Those of us in the community that advocates and works in the area of Christian college ministry should be defenders of free speech. First, as part of our basic ideas as a country, but selfishly in that when speech is free on campus, it continues to leave the door open for our Christian message to be shared. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech are two closely tied concepts, I believe.

That means for all of us we will hear things with which we don't agree. But, for a college campus to be a genuine place of learning and not just indoctrination, there must be a wide variety of views expressed....done in a respectful way.

In my view, I believe those campuses that have told Christian groups they cannot determine the qualifications for their groups elected student leaders have violated not only the Freedom of Religion principle, but also the spirit of our belief in Freedom of Speech. It does not mean the college administration or all religious groups agree with those qualifications. But, we respect their right to determine who their leaders are and what beliefs they hold and speak.

Some years ago, as a recognized student organization, we requested the use of the Student Center Ballroom (the largest meeting space available on campus) for a one night special speaker. Each recognized student organization could use it once or twice a year. The man in charge of the scheduling told me he did not want to do it. He said if he let our religious group use it, he would have to let "some religious group dancing around with horns on their heads use it and you wouldn't like that.". He was stunned when I told him I thought they had every right to do that. That didn't mean I agreed with their message.

The Associated Press article (November 23, 2015)quoted Williams President Adam Falk as saying, "I think that our students probably more so than than previous generations, come to college having been marinated in a media environment that does not foster productive conversation across disagreements. That means it is even more important that colleges find ways to work with students to teach them that and model that for them."

Those of us doing Christian college ministry must be part of these conversations. We can't be afraid to express our ideas and beliefs and expect that opportunity to be extended to us.....even as we allow others to say things with which we don't agree.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Worship Leader Sought for College Ministry Church

First Baptist Church, Murray, Kentucky is seeking a full-time worship leader. This person would lead both a contemporary service and one that is more traditional. First Baptist, Murray is a college ministry church near the Murray State University campus with 11,000 students. Keith Inman, the pastor, is a former College Minister.

Resumes may be sent to Keith at The phone number is 502.905.9268. Please share this information with anyone you think might be a possibility. Keith and I used to work together and I could not recommend him any more highly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

College Students by the Numbers...... A Survey of Students Who Attend Church

A survey of students who attend church provides some interesting numbers. The survey was done by Dr. Donald W, Candill and Benjamin J. Payne who are located at Gardner Webb University in North Carolina.

78% indicated they like churches where they can meet people from different cultures.

68% said all things being equal they would attend a church that offered free food on a regular basis.

84% said they attend to learn more about the Bible.

94% would prefer to attend a church located near their place of residence.

53% prefer rock music, professional lighting and engaging media.

89% indicate the sermon and their perception of it as exciting would motivate them to attend.

Wonder how this would compare to a survey of non-church attending college students?

FREE Today...."Doing College Ministry Better"

My Kindle E-Book, "Doing College Ministry Better" is free today (Tuesday, November 17th) until midnight. Go to Amazon Kindle E-Books. This is the book that has been used as required reading in some seminary classes. Hope it is helpful to you. Any feedback is appreciated.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Followup on Students Who Visit the First Time

Followup? This is obviously a blog that was supposed to post in August and didn't....right? Nope this is for November.

College Ministers are super conscious of followup of new people during the all important first three weeks of school. But, I think we sometimes become sloppy about it later in the semester. We are emerged in just keeping things going and meeting with all the students we need to every week. And, if someone shows up now, it really means they are interested and will connect on their own. Plus, all those who are involved will see them and connect with them.....maybe!

I do believe that if a student comes later in the semester it means they have a genuine interest, have recognized the need in their life or one of your regulars has invested in them and brought them. But, to assume they will automatically feel welcome and get connected is a false assumption.

Three things I believe About Followup:

1. They need to hear from a staffer.

2. They need to hear from a student.

3. They need to hear from at least one within 24 hours, if at all possible.

Why a staffer? They may have come out of a very real and recognized need in their life that a staffer can likely speak into better than a fellow student. AND, I've learned that students sometimes get sidetracked and don't make that followup connection immediately like they meant to.

So, if a staffer is making a connection, why a student? Sometimes, the perception is that a staffer gets paid to do it and that if a student does it, it means more to the new person. Some feel a followup connection by a student expresses a more genuine interest in them...not just someone doing their job. So, you need to make sure a dependable student gets their name and contact info immediately.

How do you follow up? My three favorites are:

1. Text: they get it immediately and it is personal.

2. Facebook: I read lots of articles that say students don't do Facebook anymore. Most students I've dealt with don't seem to read those articles and don't realize that.

3. Phone call: This is my third preference because many students don't answer a call from a number they don't recognize. But, if they do answer, it is very personal and can answer any question they might have immediately. I have a friend who goes home and makes calls till 10:00 o'clock some nights. Don't tell him it doesn't work.

Sschedule a time for Followup: I blocked time after our outreach Lunch Program to try and connect with students who had come that day for the first time. Friday mornings were followup time for our our Thursday night event.

Followup on the Followup: Often, when I make that first connection I will say, let me buy you a coke some time and we can visit. Some will say then they would like to and so it can be scheduled then. But, after they come back for a second time is often the time to say, "Let's get together for a coke." I know you will say coffee....but I hate coffee. The last time...some years ago...I drank coffee was when a significant donor insisted. It was worth it!

So, how are YOU doing followup now?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Not Too Late......Sunday is Collegiate Connect Day!

It is not too late to be part of Sunday's Collegiate Connection Day in encouraging college students to join a local church. This is the day set aside by Southern Baptist College Ministries to teach and encourage students in committing to one particular church.

Here are some last minute ideas to consider:

-If you are a Church Collegiate Minister, send out a group text, message by GroupMe, Facebook, email, etc to students encouraging them and reminding them of different ways they can join your church.

-Buy lunch today or tomorrow for some individual students you know who have had interest in joining your church and answer their questions.

-If you know of students who are planning to join, let others know that in that it is easier when they know they will not be the only one.

-Campus based College Ministers who have a Thursday night event could have a brief testimony from a student who is a member of one of your local churches.

-Check out for lots of ideas.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Do You Have Some "Pretty People" in Your College Ministry?

I love College Minister meetings, workshops and seminars. There are always the connections with people who get the frustrations and pains I have. There is never the guarded and sometimes wariness I have felt in pastor meetings and conferences. Different methods, thoughts and philosophies are expressed which help me think through my own methods, convictions and practices. That is always a win.

At one such meeting, I had finished my responsibility and slipped into a seminar being led by a well known and very successful College Minister. I sat down between two veterans at the back and one leaned over and said, "He is talking about having a ministry to pretty people.". As I began to listen, the speaker was sharing his belief that to reach a campus you needed to reach the leaders of the campus...the Greeks, athletes, etc. Then, they would draw in and bring other students to your ministry. My back row friend felt it was only a ministry for pretty people. The seminar presenter called them "the Influencers".

Some ministries are often criticized as "just a ministry for pretty people". Other ministries are criticized for only reaching students that have no where else to go or to fit. And, leaders of those ministries can speak long and passionately about why their ministry is doing the right thing....reaching leaders....being the hands and feet of Christ to the least of these, etc.

I am all about leaders. No ministry can function without leaders. It must develop, attract, and train leaders. But, I would disagree with those who say all the leaders are Greeks or athletes or there are no leaders outside these two groups. However, if we are only reaching leader types, is our ministry what it is supposed to be? Every group needs some followers and servant types.

A few years back a non-denominational ministry on a well known deep south campus was having a once a week worship event aimed at fraternity and sorority members. It was attended by several hundred greeks each week. The decision was made by the leadership to open it up to all students on campus...not just Greeks. The attendance then fell to less than a hundred each week. The decision was made to go back to it being a "Greek event".
What happened there? I don't begin to know all the dynamics and local factors. A detailed study of that would fascinate a "College Ministry Geek" like me.

But, I have found Greeks and athletes to be pretty isolated groups from others....for one thing just because of time and schedule constraints. My caution would be that if your ministry is based on the idea of reaching Influencers that will reach others you should be looking all different places. There are Influencers all across campus in different places...not just Greek chapters and athletic teams. Beware of equating pretty and influential.

If your ministry is proud of the fact that you have no "pretty people", shame on you. The gifted and charismatic student has needs and struggles as well as being loved by God. They just are often more gifted in hiding their struggles and pain. I have the crazy notion that a College Ministry should have all kinds of students in it...pretty, not so pretty, out-going and shy, Jesus loving and Jesus doubting.

Many years ago I had a shaping experience. A student came to my office to tell me that
day she was moving out on her roommate. Her roommate had some physical disability and an angry personality. The friend cared for her, but could take it no more and said, "But,
I'm her last friend". That night I stood at the door visiting with students as they came in for our worship event. The young woman with the disability came in and sat down on the back row. I sat down beside her. As the music started, another young woman rushed in and sat down on the other side of me. She was a freshman...gorgeous, a talented singer, etc. Every group on campus was after her and she had shared with me her struggle with all of that. As the worship ended, the one leading asked us to all stand and join hands as we prayed.

As I stood between those two young women holding their hands, I became very emotional and had "a God moment". This is what College Ministry is supposed to look like.

Should we reach leaders...yes! Should we reach servants....yes! Should we reach those that lost their last friend that day, yes! We have to be intentional about reaching out to a variety of students. And we have to realize just reaching "pretty people" will not bring every one else. But, forgive us if we are proud that our ministry doesn't reach "pretty people".

A College Ministry Principle I strongly believe is, "Who we reach helps determine who we can and cannot reach". But, the Kingdom of God is supposed to look like all people. What are you doing to try to reach a mix of students?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Southern Baptists Collegiate Connection Day....Sunday, November 15

When college students across the country come to the campuses in the fall, churches and campus based ministries do an excellent job of outreach to both believers and non-believers. But, many of those students never connect to one church, but simply continue to float and visit. Or, they attend one church after visiting, but never commit to that church and begin to serve there.

Sunday, November 15th is the day Southern Baptists are calling whychurch2015. It is a day to point toward and educate university students in the need for church connection and how to do a church connection. New believers usually have no clue as to how or even why to connect to a specific church. And, students who came to Christ as a child in their home church often do not know how to or even why to move their membership to another church.

Today's collegiate believers are our future church leaders and servants. But, we must prepare and train them for that role. It is not too late for your ministry to be a part of connecting students to the church. Wouldn't it be great to see students flooding the aisles of churches Sunday, November 15? Or, wouldn't it be great to see one or two students join that day! Let's teach students to love the church and be a part.

For more information, go to

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2nd Most Important Task of a College Minister?

If you were to ask College Ministers what the most important task they have, most would say, "share the gospel" or "teach students to walk with the Lord".

But, what would they say is number two? Would it be leadership development or teaching students how to do personal Bible study?

Here is my Number 2: helping connect students to a local church. If they develop that life long commitment, it will help grow them, encourage them in difficult times, give them opportunities to serve, and if they have a family, be a blessing and help to them.

One criticism some pastors have had of campus based college ministries is that they replace church and even lead students away from local church involvement. Overall, I don't believe that is a valid least not with the college ministries I have observed.

November 15 is the Sunday set aside as an emphasis on encouraging college students to connect to a particular local church. In Southern Baptist life, it is called, "Why Church 2015. The idea is students have had time to visit different churches and likely have decided where they best fit. The trend in recent years is for students to just attend....not make any commitment to officially connect. But, a part of our teaching them about being a part of a church is teaching them to make a commitment.....not just float or be a visitor.

Many students don't join a church because they don't have a clue how or they grew up in one church and don't know how to officially to move their membership to a different one. This can be an opportunity to teach them different ways to connect to a church. College Ministries can talk about the different ways. Some Church ministries have a meeting of all students interested in possibly joining and explain the different options their church offers. In previous years some churches found that students were more willing to take this step when they knew they would not be the only one.

One church that has a large college ministry sends out a letter to all students who have
attended since school started inviting them to join on this day and telling them joining options.

If you lead a campus based ministry, you can partner with area churches in promoting this special Sunday. Or, you can simply challenge your students to connect to their different churches by taking the next step of membership on that day.

Some churches tie the Connect Sunday to a home football game weekend. Obviously, each situation can do what works best for their schedule and that might mean setting a different date.

Go to for more help and suggestions. Other than sharing the gospel with student what else can you do that will benefit their life more than helping them connect to a church? I believe it is the second most important thing we do!

Monday, October 26, 2015

FREE Monday...10 Commandments of College Ministry...Kindle E Book, October 26

My Kindle E Book, The 10 Commandments of College Ministry, which normally sells for the outrageous price of $1.99, is free today.

As a favor, I would ask three things.....would some of you write your honest review of the brief book on the Book Page?

Second, would you pass the word of today's freebie on to others?

Third, would you tell others about my College Ministry Blog and that they can follow me on Twitter @arlissdickerson where the Blog is posted.....usually twice a week.

Have a great Monday!

PS: if you are reading this on Tuesday, I think it is still showing as, if you are interested, check on it on Google.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

12 to 16 College Ministry Interns Wanted

Jon Barron, Baptist Campus Minister at the University of Kentucky, is planning to build a staff of 12 to 16 Interns to reach out to the 28,000 student UK campus in Lexington.

Would you like to be part of this bold experiment? Or, do you have students that you want to recommend? This is a large ministry that is wanting to do even more. For those wanting experience in doing college ministry on a flagship campus, this is a great opportunity.

For more info or to apply, contact Jon Barron:

Monday, October 19, 2015

The 2 Most Deadly and Quickest Killers of College Ministries

As listed in my previous Blog, I believe there are several things that will kill either a campus based or church based College Ministry. Some are slow killers and others can be almost instant. But, there are two I believe are the most deadly and I don't think you can rank one over the other as they are very different.


This one can be either instant or slow. There are many reasons that continual turnover is destructive to the ministry.
-Some students always disappear when there is a change in leadership. They were drawn to the previous leader and that relationship is no longer there.
-Due to some circumstances in their own life, they are not there when the new leadership takes over and no one misses them and re-enlists them. Or, they sense no one cares that they are not there.
-Sometimes a new leader brings a completely different philosophy or approach to the ministry and previous students are not comfortable or don't feel they fit with the new approach.
-A new leader may attract a different or new set of students and those previously involved feel left out or that they don't fit with the newer students.

So, what do we do with this issue? The answer is complicated because many things go into causing the problem. First, frequent turnover often comes due to a lack of support to the College Minister or the ministry as a whole. The salary may be minimal and people quickly move on just to survive financially. Or, they feel no one cares about it but them..,there is no emotional support. A growing issue is additional duties being added to College Minister job descriptions that make it feel impossible to do what is being asked.

Another factor is that College Ministers must realize that it usually takes three years for a College Ministry to begin to operate at full force. Simply put, that is three years of students coming into the ministry under the same philosophy, expectations, and leadership relationships. So, a College Minister, when possible, needs to make a long term commitment to that ministry. That means suffering through the hard building days and not assuming the grass is always greener in a new position.

Outside the College Minister's scope, those who provide the position must see the need for a livable salary that provides for a family and a job description thatnis do-able and attractive to someone who is called to College Ministry.


This one can be instant when others become aware of it. They simply see the ministry as a sham and they want nothing to do with it or don't want others to think that ministry represents who they are. First, please hear me, this is not a call for continual snooping or spying on leaders to insure their perfection. They are not perfect. But,the
issue is when there is a continual pattern of inappropriate behavior by people seen as being leaders.

-First, I think there must be clear expectations communicated to potential leaders of what the standards are. This can be done in interviews and with a signed covenant.
-When the leader becomes aware of inappropriate behavior, those students must be talked
with individually....and respectfully...not in an accusatory manner.
-Remember, there are false accusations made and there are one time mistakes made by the finest of students.
This comes to the point where you must sometimes accept the word of a student that the accusation or appearance of wrong doing is false or mis-understood by others. And,
sometimes you extend grace and a second chance even when it is as it appeared.

Several years ago, I became aware of continual mis-behavior by several students in our ministry, I confronted the issue and immediately the attendance at our large group
meeting dropped by half! Students who were involved in the inappropriate actions immediately stopped attending as well as friends of theirs. I was shell shocked, but felt I had done the right thing. But, I did not realize how heavy the price of my actions would be.

Then a crazy thing began to happen, attendance at our meeting began to grow and went
back to where it had been. First, there were new students coming who had been turned off to our ministry due to the behavior they had seen in several. They just assumed that represented our ministry. Not only had I not realized what was happening, but that it was affecting our ministry overall. Students on campus know what the reputation of your
ministry is..... when you do not! Then, some who had been involved in the mis-behavior came back with a new spirit and understanding of Christian actions and responsibilities.

I cannot promise if you take a moral stand and students leave that it will quickly grow back......but, I can promise you it is possible.

Is there something standing in the way of your ministry being what God wants it to be?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

12 College Ministry Killers.....Which Are You Ignoring?

1. Continual turnover of ministerial leadership
-There are always some students who disappear in any transition. Besides shifts in philosophy and approach, there are just relationships that are not there. Borderline people disappear and no one even knows it. Key supporters get left out....usually unintentionally.
-Stability is key to growing a ministry.

2. Playing favorites with students....or appearing to do so.
-A College Minister will always spend more time with key leaders, but talking to and relating to a wide variety of students at your key events is huge.
-A story is told about one College Minister who became close to a group of guys and they would spend large amounts of time with him. He would order pizza on the ministry account for them to eat together. Other students got that message.

3. Not cooperating with college officials and/or violating school policies.
-College officials can open or close doors for a ministry. Working with them is to your benefit. If they know and trust you, it can be surprising the doors and opportunities that open.
-If the school says don't put flyers on car windshields, don't do it....even if it is the plan of salvation. Some will say you are being "bold for the gospel". Nope; you are harming the overall proclamation of the gospel on that campus.

4. Being sloppy in handling, reporting and using ministry finances.
-I have never been aware of a College Minister stealing from college Ministry funds. But, I know of several situations where sloppy handling caused people to wonder and be reluctant to give.

5. Not communicating to your stakeholders, supervisors, employers what is happening in your ministry.
-The more people know the more they help and tout the ministry to others.
-The more people know the more it keeps your ministry in the budget.

6. Expressing a critical attitude toward other ministries.
-We can genuinely have disagreements with other ministries' theology or methods, but we must be careful to not be continually negative. This is a major turn-off to students and is harmful to the overall campus view of ministry groups.

7. Not staying true to the core principles, beliefs and purposes of the ministry.
-There are lots of good things we can do that keep us from doing the best things.
-We must always be a ministry, not a club.

8. Neglecting your spouse to do ministry.
-First, it is the wrong example to students in this day of struggling marriages or even belief in marriage.
-Some wind up having to leave College Ministry to make their marriage right after neglect due to working all the time. See #1.

9. Dampening students sense of ownership and initiative.
-In our desire that things be done well and with excellence or in a certain way, it is possible to make students feel inadequate or always wrong. So, they stop doing or leading out.
-I've learned the hard way that sometimes I must keep my mouth shut and in the end it is better....not done my way....but better!

10.Constant flux and change in the ministry.
-Every year is totally different. Often, it is a change to copy someone else's success.
-Meeting times, places and nights are always changing. There is no constant to build on.

11. The appearance of immorality or mis-behavior among your student leaders.
-Likely, this is the number one College Ministry Killer!

12. Working student leaders to death with little appreciation or positive input into their lives.
-We must never forget they are volunteers and the experience they have influences what students want to follow in their footsteps.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Information on Helping South Carolina Flood Victims

You can go to my Twitter account (@arlissdickerson)or my Facebook where I have posted a link from David Taylor, a College Minister in South Carolina, on suggestions for helping in South Carolina. Please share this information anywhere it will be helpful.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lessons from 42 Years of College Ministry

1. You don't get the "atta-boys" and perks that pastors don't have all the pressures and the folks you work with can't fire you.

2. School years start and stop. There are clear beginnings and endings that bring freshness to the ministry and refreshment to the College Minister.

3. There is a benefit to every age you are, if you just recognize and use it.

4. The sooner you get over thinking you are cool the better.....the students quit thinking it long before that.

5. The only way to survive long term is to have friends, colleagues, and supporters other than students.

6. Spouses have to share or embrace the calling to College Ministry.

7. Success is built by putting one year on top of another and most of the time making small tweaks, not wholesale changes.

8. Some years just go better than others....they just do.....only God knows why.

9. No matter how much you love and feel God-called to College Ministry....some days are hard and you have had all you can handle and selling insurance looks good!

10. Students will surprise you....good and bad.

11. It hurts when students you have invested in deeply walk away and you never know why.

12. You gotta raise money.

13. You have to do what gives you satisfaction....and some things that don' just do.

And....I still like chili dogs and pizza!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Working with Students "Second Experience"

Several years ago I served on a committee to pick students for summer ministry assignments. I read about 100 students' spiritual story or testimony. At least 80% of them said something like, "I became a Christian or joined the church or went forward, or prayed a prayer when I was 8, 9, or 10.....but then when I was 18, 19, or 20.."

They would go on to describe a second experience. Some would say, "I re-dedicated my life." Others would say, "I really became a Christian.".

Through the years I have had this conversation with an untold number of students. How do you handle it? How do you treat it? First of all, I think it is important and we should never take it lightly. I have sometimes called this decision the "Discipleship Decision". It was when a child's faith became an adult's faith. Obviously, there are those who went forward in a church service just because everyone else in their group was and made no spiritual decision. But, that is not true of all of them.

I believe you celebrate this decision with them and in the end you must label it whatever they label or a salvation experience. But, I think it is important to say, ok; now where do you go from here? What does this mean for you?

I am aware of some College Ministries who when a student comes to them wrestling with such an issue that they simply say the student should pray the prayer of salvation to be sure. And, they count them as a salvation. I think that is dishonest and unfair to the student in working through their experience. For many I have worked with, they had genuinely come to know the Lord very young and were now understanding and wanting to accept the fuller implications of that decision. That needs to be affirmed and helped.

I like the passage at the end of the "Woman at the Well Story". "We no longer believe just because of what you said, now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.". John 4:42
I think this describes many students who believed because godly parents or Youth leaders told them, but now they have owned it as an adult. Yet, there are those who just held up their hand or signed a card. We must help all of them work out their salvation "with fear and trembling".

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2 Dates for Your College Ministry Calendar

October 15 - Engage 24

This is a 24 hour period to encourage all Christian students within your college ministry to be intentional about sharing their faith with a non-believer. As you are aware, many who profess Christ have never shared with another how to begin a relationship with Christ. Some ministries will hold special projects that day while others will simply challenge their students to share in their daily contacts. Many hold some sort of gathering that evening for students to tell their experiences, to encourage one another, and celebrate together.

November 15 - Why Church 2015

This is the Sunday set aside to have a special emphasis on college students joining and officially connecting with the church they have been attending since school began in August. Many students simply float from one church to another and never make the intentional commitment. Prior to this Sunday, campus based College Ministries can emphasize the value of not just attending a church, but commmiting to one. A church College Ministry could
send a letter or text to all the students who have visited this fall telling them of this special Sunday and sharing with them the different ways they can join. Some even have a special meeting for students interested in joining. Often, students are more willing to take this step, if they know others are as well.

For additional information on these two dates, go to and

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to START Working with Alumni

I am on record as being super strong on the need to work with alumni. I believe this relates to both church and campus based, but more strongly to campus based. I have had campus based College Ministers tell me they are in a situation where no one has worked with alums before, so there is no list and so, there is no way to do it.

Ok; somebody has to start somewhere. Will the next person in your job find it better than you found it? Here are different thoughts and ideas on building an Alumni list or beginning to connect with alums of your ministry.

1. First, it could be an "Alumni and Friends List". You know of people who are interested in your ministry even though they are not products of your ministry.

2. It could be a "Friends and Parents List". Yes; some ministries work at connecting to parents. They feel the parents will encourage their student and yes; some parents even give financially to the ministry.

There are many different ways to get Alumni names and addresses to begin a list.

1. Many ministries have scrap books, pictures, or even framed event pictures from past years. Get all the names from these sources. Some of these you will be able to get addresses for as you will recognize them from your church, etc.

2. Search for people on Facebook from the names you have. When you connect, ask them if they would like to be on an alumni list to receive updates on past friends and current happenings with the ministry. Some will and some won't. That's ok.

3. Send a letter with a return envelope to alums you have addresses for asking them to send you names and addresses of friends they have contact with who were involved in the ministry.

4. If you are an alum of the college where you serve, you can often buy an alumni directory with alums names and

5. Some college Alumni offices will supply you with addresses, if you tell them they were involved in your ministry and you are trying to re-connect. Some Alumni offices even have asked alums what organizations they were involved in and can give you a list of yours....if they are kind hearted and trust you.

6. Send out a newsletter with lots of alumni news and some ministry news....more people news. Don't just ask for
money. In fact, I would encourage you not to ask for money at the beginning. Ask for their current updates for family, work, ministry, etc.

7. Ask alums to send you their "Christmas Letter". These can then be used to do up-dates for your next newsletter. Or, send out a letter with a return envelope asking for news for a first Alumni Newsletter. Obviously, you can also do this by Facebook.

8. It is Homecoming season. Have a Drop-In for Alums and Parents. Some churches do special events and recognitions on the Sunday of Homecoming Weekend.

9. Host an Alumni and Parents Tailgate event.

10. Never, ever send out a Bulk mailing to alums without asking for "Address Correction Requested" on the envelope. The Postal service will charge you for each one you get back, BUT, it is money well spent.

11. Remember, not all alums are on Facebook and some of the age categories most interested in connecting do not do least on any regular basis.

If you find yourself wishing someone before you had done some alumni work, what will the person who follows you y think of what you have done? Someone has to start it!

By the way, I know a ministry where one alum regularly gives $50,000 to the ministry.

Friday, September 25, 2015

You Should Be Fired if You Don't Work with Alumni

A College Minister always has more to do than can get done. I get that. But, I strongly believe a College Minister that is not working with alums is not doing his or her job.

Three Reasons College Ministers Need to work with Alums:

1. You have been a mentor to them during college days.
You can still be a positive influence or help in their lives. It may be at a distance or perhaps just at certain times in their lives. Sometimes your alums will be in leadership roles in their church and need outside resources or just good advice. You are a touchpoint for many who have made significant spiritual decisions during college years. Many College Ministers fuss about Youth Ministers who seem to wash their hands of youth after they graduate from high school. Aren't we doing the same thing if we do not stay connected to alums?

2. Alums can be a powerful voice for College Ministry.
All of us continue to be dismayed by the number of cuts being made in College Ministry. At the same time, we are inundated with articles expressing concern about the loss of Millenials to the church, we are seeing deep cuts in College Ministry. Sometimes, these cuts are made because there are hard financial decisions to be made and there is no one in key roles speaking up for College Ministry. Simply put, often cuts are made where leadership will get the least flak. If all the alums of College Ministries are aware and make their voices known, it can have a very positive effect in decisions that are made. Do your alums know of the positive things that continue to happen in your ministry? When someone says, "College Ministries are just not getting it done.", would your alums have information to respond? Their being aware of current happenings in your ministry is a plus and just being aware of the financial changes affecting ministry to college campuses is huge.

3. The financial gifts of alums are a huge factor in many ministries.
Most, if not all of the larger College Ministries I have close contact with, receive significant gifts from alums. One Southern Baptist College Minister told me that in their state they were not allowed to ask individuals for money and therefore, there was no need to work with alums. This goes to the idea that it might take away from cooperative giving through their church. I still point back to my numbers one and two. If you are not forbidden to ask alums for money and you don't have all the resources you need, you are making a huge mistake in not working
with those who have come through your ministry. They know and see the value. Many alums giving small amounts can make a huge difference. Or, one alum can write a check that changes the whole impact of your ministry. In recent years large and modern College Ministry Centers have been built with significant contributions from alums. Or, their influence within their church led to significant church involvement.

HOWEVER, you cannot and should not see your alums as a cash cow! This does not work and should not work.
My call is for you to continue partnership with them. Encourage their continual walk with the Lord and service in His church. This is one of those things you do as you go along and at times that students are away from campus. Darrell Cook, Virginia Tech, who is the prime example of mutual partnership with alums(see his article on this Blog), has a Reunion and Work Weekend where they meet on campus, work on the BCM Center (Remember, most of them are engineers.) and they have fellowship meals together. It is a time everyone looks forward to. He even sends a Virginia Tech BCM onesie to alums who have a baby.

Often, those of us who write articles and blogs use an overstated title to get your attention to get you to read our writings. Let me tell you what my title, "You Should be Fired if You Don't Work with Alumni" should be fired if you don't don't work with alums!! It's that important. You can continue to be a positive influence int their lives. And, the longer you serve in one ministry situation, the more your alumni influence and impact can grow. it is never too late to work on alumni connections. Hey, it's getting to be Homecoming time.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Why I HATE Weekly Large Group Collegiate Events!

I don't....I LOVE weekly large group Collegiate events! My recent blog "Has the Day of Weekly Large Group Worship Events Passed?" was interpreted by some as I was opposed to them. I think they just read the title. My point was everyone has to decide what is best and true for their campus situation.

My key mentor in college ministry was Dr. Tom Logue, who was State BCM Director for Arkansas for many years and hired me. A story is told about Tom where a pastor came to Tom to recommend his Youth Minister to Tom to hire as a BCM Director. He told Tom, "He is great with small groups.". As the story goes Tom responded, "I have lots of Directors who are great with small groups; I need some who are great with large groups!"

An argument for small groups is personal discipleship...not just sit and soak large group events. I get that and agree. BUT, I also believe that large group events provide some things small groups do not. Sometimes....SOMETIMES, large group events don't work well, because the time and effort is not put into them to make them worth attending. One reason they often don't work well is they seem to be a vehicle to promote or put the spotlight on the college is a vanity event. Not everyone that is called to the ministry is equipped to be a spotlight speaker.

A second reason large group events often fail is they are a copy of someone else's event. It is not your event. One of my key beliefs in College Ministry is we must play to our strengths. That is true of our personal strengths AND our ministry's strengths and personality. Every campus has a personality and every ministry has a personality and those all go into what makes a large group event work or fail.

A while back, I heard about a ministry that had Hot Dogs and Root Beer each week before their event. They have a large crowd. That's it...that's the secret....No...that was just part of their doing their event with their personality, doing it their way. Your large group event might contain testimonies, drama sketches, mixers, a brief talk by a guest or one of your leaders and then turn around into discussion groups some weeks. Or, it might have a different guest speaker each week. Students can be the "star" not the College Minister. I know of college ministries who have had one of their students be the regular speaker each week. That's a little scary to me, but it works for them! Doing it differently takes more planning than having thirty minutes of music and then a talk by the College Minister.

But, the time you might spend preparing to speak can be put into planning and asking students to do different things. In many ways we communicate that to be a good Christian is to come, sit, and watch. Are you communicating that? Remember, your event can have students doing lots of things and you speaking. It doesn't have to be a choice. I have always believed that each large group collegiate event should have different parts that might appeal to and speak to different people. I'm ok with a student testimony being the memorable thing at a large group event where I speak. One of the best things we do is equip, enable and train students to be up front.

I don't hate large group collegiate events...I hate poorly done ones! AND, a group does not have to be LARGE to be a working large group event. I have never had as many students at an event as I wanted, but lots of them God worked in and through them.

Looking for basics in College Ministry? Check out my brief book, "10 Commandments of College Ministry" that is a Kindle E Book.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

6 Things That Will Make Your Small Groups Better - Linda Halfacre Weir

Fall is one of the most electric times on college campuses. Classes are in full swing. Football is celebrated. The marching band is peppy. Students are in the process of transitioning from dependence to independence, teen to adult. Perhaps there is no greater tool for growth for a college student then being a regular part of a healthy small group.

These 6 things can make your small groups better.

1. On-going Group Recruitment. At all points in the semester, students will recognize their need for life in community, intentional spiritual growth, or both. Talk about the benefits of small groups often. Help your groups be open to new participants all along the way, not just the first few weeks of the school year.

2. Leadership Development. Invest in your small group leaders. Love them, hear them and train them. Make sure they know they don't have to be Bible scholars or Who's Who on campus--although they can be. Small group leaders simply need to be living in Jesus and desiring to lead others spiritually through relationships. Your training for small group leaders should simply focus on this.

3. Balance. Small groups need to be balanced with the spiritual and the fun and the spiritually fun. Jesus is our example for doing life in community. He served his small group of 12. He cooked breakfast for his group. He prayed with them and for them. He taught them. He walked with them. He developed them. Such balance.

4. Accountability. Have an easy system for measuring the health of your small groups throughout the semester. Who's coming? Who's not coming, but is staying connected to the leader? Who won't come back to campus after Thanksgiving? What areas come naturally for your leaders (Bible study, prayer, Care, On-going connections)? What areas are a struggle for your leaders?

5. Exit Ramps. Students are more likely to commit to a small group if they know there is an ending time. If the students know the group ends a week or so prior to exams at the
end of the semester, joining will be less intimidating. Many groups will pick back up second semester. Having an ending point and a chance to reenlist each semester puts the student at ease. Some may find a group Freshman year that lasts until graduation. Some may have a different group each semester. Clear starts and stops give students an appealing freedom.

6. Starting and Stopping Time. Have a set time each week to begin and end each group
meeting. This let's a student know their time is valued.

Linda Halfacre Weir served as Baptist Campus Minister at Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Monroe and Florida State University. She later served as Southern Baptists Leader of College
Ministry at Lifeway Christian Resources. Linda currently serves as Director of Adult
Groups for Pinelake Church, a multi-campus church in Mississippi. She has long been considered an expert in collegiate small groups.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Alumni? Shouldn't I Be Thinking About Freshmen? By Darrell Cook

New students are everywhere. On campuses around the country, churches and collegiate ministries have countless opportunities for faith engagement with students in these critical days of transition. The chances to reach students are there every day for the rest of the year, but these days especially call for a sense of readiness, expectancy, and immeasurable opportunity. All that to say, it definitely feels like if there is ever a season in which I don't have time for alumni, it is now!

Though it seems counter-intuitive to think about alumni this time of year, I need to be thinking about them with gratitude and engagement. As we continue to unlock what it means to reach this campus our alumni cultivate so many areas that make us more effective.

Cultivating Prayer - Since it is such a crucial time, it is wonderful to know that alumni and friends of the ministry are praying during these days of opportunity. We sent our latest alumni newsletter in early August and in it I shared that our opening series for our large group gathering would be in Ephesians. We requested that they would pray Ephesians 2:10 - that students would see that they are God's workmanship and that God had given them some purposeful places in which to walk. It was encouraging to hear back from so many alumni that they were glad to know where we were focusing and especially pleased to be praying for students based on what they were studying.

Cultivating Resources - Because alumni give, it is so much easier to reach out to these new students. Some have given of their time providing food and hospitality for our events or prepping our facilities at our alumni work weekend. Because of alumni that give financially I have staff in place to serve with me, scholarships for retreats, funds for facilities and equipment, and people willing to fill financial needs as new opportunities arise. Our traditional cooperative giving channels are still a huge blessing, but the constantly growing edge of our resourcing these days is through our alumni.

Cultivating Perspective - Alumni also remind me that life does not always run by semesters. While I am dealing with freshmen name overload, many alumni are in the middle of discerning what it looks like to follow God through job transitions, marriages, retooling their skill sets, births, grief and loss, and unexpected changes. Life after college is called "the real world" not because college is completely synthetic, but because life after college is so different than the college experience. Thinking of the celebrations and struggles of our alumni makes me a better campus minister as we disciple students for the long haul. And that dovetails right into....

Cultivating Vision - Rhinking of where many of our alumni were when they were freshmen helps me to be patient and trust God to grow our current freshmen and young leaders over the long haul. Thinking of where our many alumni are now gives me hope for the church. It drives me with a sense of what an honor it is to have this calling. It helps me begin with the end in mind and makes me remember the call to grow mature believers with the students in front of me.

Enjoy the fall. Welcome and love the freshmen well. Before you know it, those freshmen will be the alumni who are resourcing and encouraging those reaching out in Jesus' name to the generations after them.

Darrell Cook is the Baptist Campus Minister at Virginia Tech and is widely known for his outstanding work with alumni. He is also known for having the World's best filing system!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Has the Day of Weekly Large Group Worship Events Passed?

Mike Puckett has a great article @CollegiateCollective ("Decentralize or Die") about his decision to go from having a large group worship event to all small groups and why it was the best decision he has made. It is a reminder of the truth that all ministry situations are unique and decisions have to be made with that in mind. No body knows your situation like you do.

There are some today who say the time of large group weekly worship events in College Ministry is gone. I must admit, I'm not in that camp. Some places it is working as well or better than ever. Yet, we have to continually evaluate what we are doing and how we are doing it. Some years back I wrote that one of the negatives of the Passion Conference is that many College Ministries are trying to duplicate a passion session each week. The problem is they don't have a famous worship band and the speaker is not Louie.

One College Minister called recently to talk through his question of whether to drop his weekly large group event. His dilemma is that attendance in recent years was 500 plus and now it is "only 200-300". Was it still worth doing? Some of us would consider an attendance of "only 200-300" the arrival of the kingdom. So, again each situation is unique.

Here are some issues that come into play:

-Do you have an adequate meeting speace that is regularly or always available to you? For some not having such a space makes the decision.

-It is my experience that large group worship can be the front door to your ministry and take students to your small groups or be the only event they will attend. Many students are afraid of small groups for fear of what they might be asked to share or that their ignorance of the Bible will be embarrassing. A large group experience offers an annoninimity that some prefer.

-For some the selling point or the downfall is whether or not the College Minister is a great speaker. First, the main event does not have to be a speaker each week. Some use testimonies, guest speakers, guided prayer times,
while others have a different type event each week. One of the larger campus based ministries with which I'm
familiar uses a different guest speaker each week. The continuity is the worship band, student testimonies, etc.

-One driving factor for some in going away from a weekly large group worship event is the reality for them of losing Recognized Student Organization status. They no longer can schedule rooms for their meetings. Others fear this happening down the road, so they are changing their format for that potential eventuality. I must admit I
don't share the view of changing something that is working for you with the "possibility" you may not be able to do it in the future. Plus, if you have your own meeting space
this is likely not a factor.

-If you have a supervisor or work for a church or other organization, I would not cancel my large group event without their involvement in the decision.

For some ministries a weekly large group worship event is not the best idea and for others it works great. You must decide what is best for your ministry. And, part of that decision involves how many is an acceptable number for you and a positive vibe for the students.....even if it is "only 200-300".

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The End of the Beginning......Now What?

For many years our Back-2-School Retreat fell about the third weekend of school. I called it the end of the beginning. The first three weeks are so crucial in making contacts, holding new student events, and just all the craziness that goes with starting up. During those first three weeks there is no regular schedule; you simply are plunging on to "what's next". It's about maximizing every moment and just getting done what has to be done and trying to remember the name of a student you see coming down the walk that you met two weeks ago.

So, if the beginning has ended, what now? The answer is to set an intentional schedule. Since the first few weeks call for a flexibility that has no set schedule, it is easy to continue to operate that way. It is easy....but, wrong!

Here are some things I would suggest need to be scheduled.

-Prep Time: If you speak for your weekly event or speak in churches on the weekend, you must have a set time for your preparation. There was a time I found myself preparing on Sunday afternoons to speak on campus on Monday night. That wasn't fair to my family and it certainly is not what Sabbath is to be about. Or, I can remember inviting students to come to an event where I was speaking.....but didn't have a clue what I was going to say.

-Leader Meeting Time: One of the most crucial things we do is meet with our student leaders on a regular basis. This is for their development and for the benefit of the ministry. In my opinion, this is a must. These meetings need to be in your weekly schedule. I also suggest that they be scheduled in such a way that they do not keep you from being other places you need to be.

-Eating Where students eat: At least once a week schedule a time where you eat where students eat in a cafeteria, food court, etc. I find this to be a huge outreach time as students you already know introduce you to other students.

-Walking across campus: One of my personal rules is "Walk through the Student Center EVERY day.". But, there are times that traffic on campus is at a peak. It is a good time to be out there. I've stood at a campus crosswalk lots of times visiting with students who came by.

-Free night at home: It is easy to have something every night and never be at home for dinner or a family night. We ate dinner lots of night at weird times so I could go back to campus and yet all eat together. But, later on Tuesday nights became "no campus night". You and your family need that.

-Paper Work Time: When do you respond to letters, do reports, etc? Find a time in the week when things are quiet that is set for paper work or administrative tasks. Some never get to them and some let these keep them from students. Have a set time and do them then. Don't worry about it other times. Talk to students then.

-Follow-up Time: This is the time that you follow up on students who came to your large group event or in some way filled out an Info Card. For me, Wednesday afternoon was follow-up to our Wednesday Lunch Program and Friday morning was follow-up to Thursday night worship. Whether you do follow-ups personally or assign them, make sure it is done in a timely manner. Some experience says that the sooner a follow-up is done, the more meaningful or effective it is.

What is your most important task? Do you have it scheduled? What is your most satisfying task? Is it scheduled?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Count.....and You Should Too!

Another one of my awkward confessions is that I do count attendance and keep a record of it for all collegiate events for which I'm responsible. It is somewhat fashionable and even considered spiritual not to count. "It's not about nickels and's about people." some say.

First, I have always felt I needed to be able to give some accountability to those who paid my salary. The size of the crowd does not determine the success or failure of the event. Some of the most impactful or serious events will have smaller crowds. A witnessing seminar will never have as many as a session on love, sex, and dating. But, you need both.

A second value I have found to counting and keeping records is that it helped me to see and anticipate the rhythm of the semester. Let me explain. For our weekly events, I kept a chart which showed how many for Week 1, Week 2, etc. And, I could compare the same week to previous years on that same week. I learned that there are certain weeks in the semester when attendance is matter what the Bible study or talk is or what's happening. It just has to do with the rhythm of the semester. Seeing and knowing those trends helped me in planning, evaluation and most of all, my own personal mental health.

But, here is the overwhelming reason you need to be counting. With the money crunch these days and the move in many areas to cut back on College Ministry, we must be able to make the case for the value and effectiveness of our it or not the number of students showing up is a significant factor in that. I attend a church with a long and storied history of College Ministry. We have people who have come through our church serving as foreign missionaries, etc. For a variety of reasons, the last two or three years our College Ministry has not been nearly as large at it used to be. When we recently lost our College Minister, some said, "Do we need a full time College Minister?" They weren't being negative and opposed to College Ministry. They just were thinking about and weighing hard choices.

Let me take it a step further. Do you know how many different students have attended your events in a week? When you say, "We had 75 at worship, 50 at Lunch or Sunday School and 30 at our Freshmen event.". Is that the same 75 students who attended different things and times or is that 125 different students? I would suggest even if it is not done weekly, that you should use sign-in sheets and make a list of the different students who attended. The
number of different students being impacted may be very different than your attendance number. I would even go as far as to say it should be.

Can you say how many different students attended your events last week? Can you say how many different students attended your events in a semester? That gives a more accurate picture of your ministry.

Whether we like it or not, we all have to be able to give an accounting of our ministry. Numbers is ONE of the ways we do it. But, make sure you are giving an accurate picture. It is wrong to lie about your numbers....and
there are those that do that. Another thing I have learned is, students don't do well counting attendance. Someone has said, "Every number represents a person." I've always wanted to reach as many "persons" as possible.

Monday, August 31, 2015

10 Quick Truths & Reminders for These Early Weeks

1. Reality Week is when that first round of tests hit and students will disappear that didn't mean to....keep track of who was there and now are not.

2. One great event or one terrible event will neither make nor destroy your ministry.

3. Students hate the reality or appearance of Christian ministries competing against each other.....and hold your tongue even when the "other ministry" is not.

4. Great titles for Bible studies or speakers make a huge difference in inviting and for publicity.

5. Start on time and end when you say you will.

6. Show and express appreciation to your student leaders who are putting in lots of extra time these first few weeks....surprise food or snacks work great.

7. Remember "The Unforgiveable Sin of College Ministry": Not getting contact info from first timers.

8. Upperclass student testimonies are powerful.

9. The ministry is reflecting your strengths/weaknesses.....make sure some way... some how the weaknesses are being addressed.

10. Make pictures at your early events...they can be a slide show at your large group event....they can be great promotional material for that event next year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The #1 Reason Students Stay Involved in a College Ministry

Relationships are the number one reason students stay involved....or leave.

Many years ago the Billy Graham organization did a follow-up study on people who came to Christ in their crusades as to whether they became involved in a church after that decision and if so, was there one influencing factor. First, they were disappointed with the percentage of those who followed up their decision with involvement in a local church. But, for those who did connect to a church, the overwhelming common factor was.....they knew someone in the church. There was a personal relationship.

No matter how strong your ministry matter how good you are as a matter how great your worship band matter how funky your lighting is, most students will not stay if they do not develop some positive relationships there. Right now, most College Ministers are working 24/7 to reach new students. Many of them will come for 2 or 3 weeks then disappear.

So, what do you do?

First, help your leaders understand this and for them to have a mentality of wanting to connect to newcomers. Look for those who are by themselves. Don't think those who come in pairs are good. Often, a pair comes because one wants to and persuades the other to come with them. If that "persuaded partner" does not continue to come, the other will likely soon disappear unless they have connected to others.

Watch for those who come in late to your event, or after it has started. That is often those who know no one and want to avoid the awkwardness of being alone and feeling like a loser. Have a couple of your "relaters" hang back and watch for them and then go sit with them. Then, they Introduce them to others when it is over.

Food of some sort after an event helps people stay and visit. It can just be chips and drinks. But, food gives people a reason to stay and makes it easier to talk to others. Food is a magic potion in relationships. Encourage leaders and other core students to invite new students to go for ice cream or coffee after the large group event.

If you have a Lunch Program, have table or row captains who sit in the same area each week and get to know those
who sit there. We have noticed that in our Lunch program that core students tend to sit in the inner rows and those who are not core or are new tend to sit on the outside tables. Help your leaders to know where they sit matters.

Of course, the biggest "connecting factor" is if they become a part of a small group. That is why many ministries
have now gone to having small discussion groups that follow their large group worship event. These groups discuss the Bible study of the night, pray and do social events together. Or, at the end of your large group event during
the first month you might just do 5 minute get acquainted groups. Students simply circle up where they are sitting for two or three fun get acquainted questions. I am also a big fan of having a quick mixer at your large group worship during the first 10-15 minutes....not a mixer where everyone watches 5 people do something, but where
everyone actually mixes and meets at least a couple of people. But, if they just meet other newcomers like themselves, each may think neither was very friendly or welcoming.

Everyone needs and wants someone to know their name and care that they are there. And, if they don't experience that, they will disappear....and often you will not even realize it. Relationships are key and God works through relationships!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Permission to Print My Materials

I was asked yesterday about the possibility of someone printing my materials to hand out to Freshmen and/or parents. I am glad for you to use "10 Things the Parents of a College Freshman Need to Know" or "How to Make it in College: 5 Tips for College Freshmen". Those were the ones I was asked about.

However, I am glad for you to use ANY of the material on my blog. I would appreciate it, if you would credit the source in some way or other. That might be a little for vanity, but mostly that it will hopefully connect more people to all of our college ministry materials.

But, whatever you do, I am not going to sue you. If they will help your ministry, help a student or the family of a student, that is why they were written.

If you want to go high dollar for materials, you can check out my Kindle books on Amazon. The newest is "The 10 Commandments of College Ministry". The others are "The Big 50" and "Doing College Ministry Better". They range from 99 cents to $1.99. I told you they were high dollar!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Last Minute Questions to Ask as the Crucial First Weeks Begin

1. Is my website up to date?
-Does it list our Welcome events? Are time and place clear?
-Does it clearly and simply list our regular weekly events?
-Are there pictures that show our regular events? One picture can say way more than you would print.
-Most College Ministry websites I see are not up to date or are not easy to understand what and when and where.

2. Who have I not seen that I should have?
-Is there a key leader that has not shown up or been where they are supposed to be?
-Or, we have had some Welcome events and there were some sharp students I have not seen since then....where are they?
-Or, is there a key person who coordinates a space we are using etc, that we have never quite connected?

3. If you have Center or room, is it clean and neat....will others think it is clean, neat, and inviting?

4. Am I giving priority to things that need to be done NOW and I won't get a second chance on?

5. Which does this first week or two event need....more work....more prayer.....or more money?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Southern Baptists National Collegiate Ministry Figures for 2014-2015 School Year

Mark Whitt, Southern Baptists Leader for College Ministry, has released Southern Baptists College Ministry figures for this past school year.

-Total Number of Baptist Collegiate Ministries: 747

-Total Number of Staff: 1,028 (702 Full-time)

-Total Number of Students Impacted: 543,457

-Total Number of Students Who Accepted Christ: 3,774

-Other Conversions Through BCM Ministry: 5,477

-Total of All Contributions to Missions Through BCMs: $5,889,146.24

-Total Church Staff with some Form of Collegiate Responsibility: 1,557

-Churches with Full-Time College Only Positions: 246

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What's the ONE Thing in a Succesful College Ministry?....7 Answers

Many leaders in business and authors who write in that area believe that there is ONE thing that makes the difference in every successful venture. What is that one thing? One business author has written a book telling what he believes that one thing is in business.

What is the ONE thing in College Ministry?

I believe there is ONE is not the same ONE thing for each ministry. But, I believe we can learn from others' one thing......and....for some of us, it might be our one thing also. I asked seven College Ministers who have large, strong College Ministries what their ONE thing was, if they had to name it. Five are campus based and two are church based.

Lynn Lloyd, Formerly at the University of Arkansas for 20 plus years: "Weekly one on one meetings with BCM leaders, staff, and some key freshmen guys."

Linda Halfacre Weir, formerly at FSU, Louisiana Tech, and Louisiana-Monroe: "Work the natural flow of the student calendar. Helps you, student leaders, work around the clock the first three weeks, rest and plan in the summer."

Lloyd Luncefort, Southern Mississippi: "Unconditional love for students. People come before programs."

Steve Masters, LSU: "Student Ownership of the ministry."

Kevin Inman, Louisiana Tech: "Freshmen Ministry and Journey Groups"

Austin Wadloe, First Baptist, Denton: "Adult volunteers"

John Shaffner, First Baptist, Lubbock: "Adult volunteers"

What is your ONE thing?

Do you know?

Are you utilizing it to the fullest advantage?

Coming Late Summer: "The 10 Commandments of College Ministry".....a Kindle E Book

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Remember the 7 Reasons Students Attend a Christian Event the FIRST Time!

This is from a survey done by Kentucky BCM Directors with students in five states. It equals more than 100% because students could give more than one answer.

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%


1. You must teach and encourage students to invite others. They do NOT automatically do it.

2. Having an appealing event makes it easier to invite others.

3. So, does this mean we should not do webpages, mailings, posters, or flyers? No; often students have told me they were aware of our ministry because of one of these things and wanted to come. But, it took a personal invitation for them to step over the line and come.

4. Remember; the first 3 weeks are solid gold. You can reach students during that time that you may not have another opportunity to reach. Be your best. Spend wisely extravagantly!

5. Are your first events appealing? Would someone want to come that is not looking for a Christian group? How are you planning to follow up on new people that come?

Coming Late Summer: "The 10 Commandments of College Ministry".....a Kindle E Book

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"10 Things Parents of a College Freshman Need to Know"

1. College is usually harder than high school and your son or daughter may study as hard or harder, but not make as good of grades as high school.

2. The friends and habits a student develops during the first 3 weeks often determine their whole college career. Make sure they understand the importance of starting right with a clear set of priorities. Students can shipwreck their college career and even their entire life during this time.

3. 7 out of 10 high school seniors active in church have no spiritual connections while in college. If this is a priority in your family, discuss how to make it part of the first 3 weeks. Many do not intentionally turn away from their faith; it just gets lost in the beginning with all the busyness.

4. Parents cannot see or receive their son or daughter's grades without a special signed form that can be obtained from the Registrar's Office. This is part of federal privacy laws.

5. Students who live in dorms tend to make better grades national studies show.
-It's all about being connected to college life and feeling like a student.

6. Students who are active in campus organizations are more likely to stay in school and graduate.
-Again, it is about being connected and feeling connected. Obviously, a campus ministry like the Baptist Collegiate Ministry is a huge plus.

7. National studies show students tend to marry someone they date! Really!!

8. You should know where your son or daughter lives at school and how to contact them there.....or how someone else could contact them (dorm and room number, apartment and number....not just cell).

9. The average is for students to change their major 3 to 4 times (that is why it is best to take required basics the first semester or two).

10. Psychologists say the two greatest times of change in a person's life are birth to age one and high school graduation to Christmas. That is why it is so important to stay connected and involved during this time.

Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Dumbest Mistakes College Ministers Make

10. Not defining success
-It is a combination of your employer's expectations and what gives you the most satisfaction. Both of these MUST be part of your plan for success.

9. Trying to make your students just like you
-This is such a subtle temptation we sometimes don't realize we are doing it. Are you limiting your ministry to those who want to be just like you?

8. Trying to go it alone
-Do you have a peer group that encourages, supports and cares what you do? All of us need someone other than our spouse who hears and encourages us.

7. Not loving college students
-College students sometimes act selfish, immature and disloyal. Can you still encourage the students who would not have made it as a freshman if it were not for you; but now don't have time for you or your ministry?

6. Not realizing God's kingdom is bigger than you and your ministry
-Do you think about what is best for college ministry as a whole or just yours? No one ministry fits all students.

5. Not relating to university officials in a positive way
-It is amazing how many doors college administrators can open or close for you and your ministry. Help them know you and know you are a positive partner.

4. Not playing to your strengths
-It is easy to coast on our strengths. Make sure you are giving adequate time and preparation to do what you do well as well as you can.

3. Not learning from those with whom you disagree
-You may disagree with the theology or methodology of another college ministry, but there may be something you should/could learn from them. Thinking inside the same boxes results in recycling the same thoughts and ideas.

2. Not writing personal thank you notes
-People give to and support those ministries that they know need, appreciate, and use their help or financial support. "Thanks for your gift, it helped us do ...........

1. Not using volunteers
-A leader of a large church college ministry had 1200 students at his weekly event. He had 185 adult volunteers If you divide that out, that is about 7 students per adult volunteer.

Coming Late Summer: "The 10 Commandments of College Ministry".....a Kindle E Book

Thursday, July 23, 2015

5 Reasons Older College Ministers Lead Larger College Ministries

It is my observation that in many cases (not all) that older College Ministers lead the larger campus based college ministries. I think this is also tends to be true in church based college ministries, maybe to a lesser degree. Often, I think there is the feeling that they have just fallen into this and it is just happenstance. If you think that, you are missing the reality. Plus, I think there are things we can learn from these larger older College Minister led ministries that will benefit each of us.

1. They have built up trust with partners.

They have supporting individuals and churches that know them, trust them, and even send students to them. They and their ministry are a known quantity. Nothing replaces trust. When trust is not there.....nothing else much matters. There are two parts to this....being known first and then being trusted. This is huge with individual donors. No matter how new or young you are in college ministry, you can work at being known by your partners. Your partners are whomever supports or makes your ministry possible. Just doing your work is not enough. Trust comes after they know you. First, they have to know you.

2. Ability to recruit top staff

When someone is known and trusted, that word gets around. People want to work for someone like that. But, there is a network that recommends people. That network also just has a wider awareness of who is out there. The larger college ministries have top staff and part of the reason they do is these older College Ministers are not afraid to recruit people brighter and smarter than they are. Age and experience brings a level of security that gives a freedom in recruiting top people. Also, these College Ministers have and express a desire to help younger college ministers succeed. The church based College Minister has to recruit top volunteers out of the church to invest in and mentor college students, teach classes and serve as adopting families.

3. Ability to mentor and train staff and student leaders

These College Ministers realize one of their main responsibilities is to train, mentor and encourage their staff
and leaders. They take that responsibility seriously and are intentional about doing it. One Head College Football Coach said his job was to coach the coaches and they coached players. Staff, student leaders and volunteers must be trained to be successful in their roles.

4. An on-going tradition of a strong ministry and a recognition on campus

Excellence breeds excellence. These College Ministers don't make wholesale changes each year. They tend to tweak
what they do. Students and others know what to expect from the ministry. Student leaders have seen it done before. There is a general awareness of the ministry on campus and a positive feel about it, even by those who don't attend or connect to it.

5. Relationships to administration

This one particularly applies to campus based ministries. Long term College Ministers can develop a personal and
even peer relationship to administrators in high positions. Again, trust is a factor here. They have learned they can trust this person. He or she will not do something improper or outside the boundaries. These administrators come to see this person as a co-worker. They have the keys to they campus and they can open or close doors for the ministry. When there is a long term earned trust relationship, they often open doors....even surprising big time doors.

What can all of us in college ministry learn from these long time pros?

1. Work at building trust relationships

2. Invest in developing others.

3. Figure out the best way to do our ministry and keep tweaking it for better....not just changing every year and copying the next new thing or the big ministry down the road.

4. Commit to being where you are for the long term until the Lord leads you away rather than looking for somewhere to jump when you have those tough years....we all have them. Some wisecracker once said, "The grass is always greener over the septic tank."