Friday, February 27, 2015

9 Questions to Ask About Your College Ministry

1. If the big attracts and the small keeps, which do you do better? Which needs improving?

2. Can a student do all of your ministry in one year? Why should they come back for years 2, 3, and 4?

3. If freshmen are the most open and available, how are you being freshmen intentional?

4. If a student is coming to your large group event, how easy or hard is it to know where to go and what to do?

5. What's the main reason students come to your ministry?

6. What's the main reason students don't come to your ministry?

7. What's the perception of your ministry by those outside of it? Why is that?

8. What's the strength of your ministry?

9. What's the weakness of your ministry?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tomorrow (Thursday) is the National Collegiate Day of Prayer

For 200 years the last Thursday of February has been set aside to pray for our college campuses. You can go to the website, National Collegiate Day of Prayer, to register to pray for a specific campus. But, you don't have to register to pray.

I would encourage you to pray for at least one other campus beside the one where you are or where you went to school.

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Time Does Your Collegiate Worship Event End?

Most of us advertise or promote what time our collegiate large worship event starts. Do you say when it ends?

Even more importantly, do you end then?

I am really fussy about lots of how the chairs are set up and are they neat and are extra stacks of chairs not just standing around random here and there.

But, the thing I am most fussy about is starting AND ending times. Different ones say it doesn't matter to students what time you end as long as it is good. Others say you can't start on time, because students are always coming in late. First, I actually know students who study and their knowing what time something ends is a factor in their deciding to come. Second, if your events are famous for never starting on time (and yes, that word gets around), students will certainly not worry about getting there on time.

So, what happens if God is really moving and it is suddenly quitting time? At some times like that, I have paused and said, "It's our normal quitting time and we are going to pause just a minute or two and let you slip out, if you need to". That tells students you respect them and their commitments. It tells them that they can come next week and still know they are going to have time to go study some more for that chemistry test.

But, let's be honest, most of the time we run long because we started late AND got carried away by the sound of our own voice. What are we teaching students about doing things right and with excellence?

Not reaching a wide variety of students? Only reaching those that seem to have nothing else to do? Do you start on time and do you end on time?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Check Out

There is a new Bible study resource you may want to check out. It is You can design your own Bible studies using their materials. This is a new product by Lifeway Christian Resources. You can choose from about 1,200 different Bible studies and plug them into the format of your choosing with your discussion questions, applications, etc for your group.

There is a $200 annual fee, but you can try it for free for two weeks. The normal fee on this is based on the number in a church or ministry, but the fee for a college ministry is the flat $200.

It has the plus of your not having to start from scratch, but being able to customize it to your needs. You might want to do Bible study groups for 10 weeks and simply pick your ten topics and then customize. It could be a super time saver for you as well as saving money on materials.

Here is to more good Bible study groups with your personal touch. So, go to and check it out.

Monday, February 16, 2015

20 Something's Not Attending Church...The Left Outs

In preparing to speak at a conference to parents and youth ministers about college students dropping out of church and what to do about it, I asked a question. I posted on my Facebook page what I was doing and would welcome anyone telling me why they dropped out or don't go much anymore.

I didn't get what I expected. Instead of people telling me they no longer believed or just didn't have time for church, I got something else. I heard from 20 Something's telling me they felt left out of church or unwanted. Their stories go like this, "I'm a single woman with no children....Bible studies for women are in the day time or at 5:30". Her work day isn't over at 5:30. This person is a high level medical professional with great responsibility. A young adult and college worship service and matching topics doesn't fit her needs. She has been told she should just serve more.

One young woman wrote of being married, but not having children. All of their Sunday School class members have children and the teacher talks all the time about being a mom and a dad. After a health issue, they recently returned to church after not having been since before Christmas. No one had checked on them. Their church has fellowships for young couples and since they have no children, they are asked to baby sit the children.

Another wrote of being married after college with no children and there just was no place that fit them in any of the churches they visited.

I have realized there is a another category: "20 Something's Who Feel Unwanted by the Church". They are left out in the way we organize and do church for the most part. We are so focused on those who don't want to attend, we have lost sight of those that want to, but feel there is no place for them.

Let me end on a positive note. One wrote he had stopped attending the non-evangelical church he was raised in because he did not believe what they taught. But, since then, he came to Christ and now serves as a Bi-vocational College Minister.

What about the 20 Something Left Outs?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"I Just Wanna Be in the Band".

When I was College Minister at Arkansas State, we did our leadership interviews and selection in February. Our new Leadership Team would start after Spring Break and serve the following year until Spring Break. We also did auditions for our worship band at the same time. A student came to me and said he wanted to audition for the worship band. I said great, you will also need to sign up for an interview. I told him the interview involved him sharing his faith story and talking about his church involvement, etc. He then said, "I just wanna be in the band".

In other words, I don't want to be held to the same expectations as the Leadership Team. Here is the problem with that view, most people who will come to a collegiate large group worship will know more who is in the band than who is on your Leadership Team. There is no such thing as, "He is just the bass player". Whoever is on stage represents your ministry. They don't get a pass because they are a good musician.

Character and commitment trumps ability every time! I recently read an article that said often musicians are enlisted to play because of their ability and it is a good entry point for them into the ministry. We don't invite someone to preach at our church as an entry point into our ministry.

You know what this may not always have the best band in town. But, they may represent who you are.

A friend who leads a large church based College Ministry said their church had decided not to ask alcohol abstinence from their volunteers as it had become a legalistic issue. We were together in a meeting where his first task after he got home was to talk to the student who led their worship band about being drunk in public. Apart from the College Minister, it is likely that the worship leader and even band members are the best known people in your ministry.

We should not ask more of our musicians than we ask of anyone else....but, we should not ask less.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Do You Speak About Calling and Do You Help "Ministerial Students"?

I made a commitment to the ministry many years ago while serving as a Summer Youth Minister at my home church. I had taken the youth to camp and made a commitment with which I had been struggling for a while. In later years I often did the morning Bible Study at that very camp. One thing I would always talk about during the week was calling to ministry.

I am of the opinion that we don't talk about it much to students these days. "Ministerial Student" has even become an old fashioned term. With our emphasis on everybody sharing and going, I believe we are not doing what we ought to in talking about "vocational ministry". Some are called by God to make ministry their vocation. The second part of that is, are you helping students who have made a commitment to "vocational ministry" to work that out, understand it and take the next steps?

Have you identified students in your College Ministry (both male and female) who have felt a call or are trying to decide if God has called them to "the ministry"? My mother called it "The Gospel Ministry". Second, are you doing anything to help them? Young women especially feel left out in this process and increasingly want to know what options are available to them.

So, what could you do? Here are some options:

-Give them a copy of Jeff Iorg's book, Is God Calling You?. It is practical, short, and excellent!
-Have a session for them where you just answer questions about ministry, seminary, etc.
-Invite a local pastor to meet with some students to talk about ministry and their questions.
-Have a panel at your large group Lunch Program, Worship Event or Retreat where there are people representing all kinds of different callings (Children, Administrative, Women, Youth, Recreation, Worship, Teaching, etc.). Many are not aware of the variety of Vocational Ministry positions available.

I grew up thinking there were just preachers, song leaders and missionaries. That is part of why I think it took me a while to crystalize and commit to my calling. None of those three seemed to fit me. I wrote in August about a national gathering of college students where those who felt called to the ministry were invite to a lunch. Out of about 1700 students, about 100 came. There they were divided into groups according to their perceived specific calling. Out of these 100 students, with a large group in every category, there was only one worship leader. What? With all the emphasis on music in worship these days, where is the disconnect? Maybe, they aren't hearing anyone talk about calling.

What's the simplest thing you can do to help those who either have made a commitment or are wrestling with it? Invite them for a coke and affirm their commitment or their struggle with the decision. Answer questions and see how you might plug them into some ministry opportunities that might benefit them.

Have you spoken on "Calling" this school year?