Monday, March 30, 2015

Least Favorite Things Guest Speakers or Personalities Have Said to Me

1. "I won't take the whole time". These are the ones that always go overtime....especially when time is tight.

2. "Don't worry; I can make this talk relevant". Yep; you know the rest of that story.

3. "Call me back in 6 months". For some years it has been my privilege to be part of planning a national event for College Ministers. We usually schedule our main speakers about a year in advance. Two different times a potential speaker we contacted said, "That sounds really interesting, but I'm only scheduling 6 months out now. So, call me back in 6 months". In 6 months that person says something like, "I've decided that's not the type event I'm going to focus my time on".

4. "I would love to be part of your ministry. I charge a thousand dollars a day". These are the speakers that
call you.

5. "I could never get peace about this talk". Then they speak....and you lose your peace.

6. "How much time do I have left"?

7. "I'm a preacher; if you wanted a speaker, you should have gone to Radio Shack".

8. "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Charles Stanley"?

My all time favorite thing a speaker said: When contacting a possible speaker, worship leader, etc, I always ask immediately, "Do you have a set fee"? When someone says no, I ask what's the least and most you have gotten for doing a similar event and then I can see where I might fit into that range. My favorite was a singer who said, "I've gotten from a sweatshirt to $1,000". Now that is a range I can fit into!

When paying a guest speaker, worship leader, etc, here are some things to remember.

1. Find out up front, if they have a set fee.

2. When inviting someone without knowing that, send them a letter or email stating the date, that you will provide any necessary housing if it's overnight, mileage (or a plane ticket) and what you will pay them. Even if you make the arrangements by phone, send them the basic information in written form.

3. Remember, there is a difference in people who have a "day job" and those who do it full time.

4. For those locally or in the area who do things for you and don't want or expect an honorarium, a gift card to a restaurant is usually well received. If you work for someone who does not allow gift cards to be given (I have.), take them out for a nice meal.

5. Send them a thank you note after the event.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Time to Experiment!....and Cast Vision!!

College Ministry has lots of different seasons and surviving and being what God wants your ministry to be takes recognizing and utilizing these different seasons. In Alabama they say there are two seasons...fall football and spring football.

Spring football going on now most places is the time of getting ready for the fall. Coaches are evaluating players, moving them around and adjusting their offensive and defensive schemes for the fall. This is the time they try new things.

Spring break to the end of the Spring Semester is a special season in College Ministry. Just like the first month of the fall is special, so is the time from Spring Break to the end. Many have recently installed new Leadership Teams. Students are a little less with you each day as the deadline of finals looms and the procrastination of sleepy winter days begins to catch up.

Now, is the time to experiment....what is something you have always thought about having your worship some place different...doing an outreach or ministry project instead of your weekly event...doing all small groups one night....taking your Lunch Program to the center of campus....having a joint event with all the other Christian groups or Church College Ministries? If you are thinking about making some change in the fall, now is the time to try it out. Nothing tells you the benefits and pitfalls of something different like trying it. You may see it will work, but some adjustments need to be made when the change is made.

Some years ago when we had run out of space for one of our weekly events, we tried something completely different for the last one of the year...boom! It worked unbelievably well. We changed permanently in the fall. It was a turning point in our ministry.

Now is the time to be casting vision among your students for the fall. If you have new student leaders on board, now is the time for them to catch the vision of what they are to be about. Now is the time for them to learn how to serve and perform their ministry tasks. Mistakes now are not nearly as costly as mistakes or lapses made in the fall. A priority for the season called "After Spring Break" is investing in your student leaders. Growing and building them up now will grow and build up your ministry this fall. Give them the time now that you need to give to that season called "First Month of School" when it comes.

College football coaches are finding their quarterback and moving personnel around some. They are tweaking their offense and defense mow. They may make way more money than you do, but they aren't smarter than you are. AND, what they do is not nearly as important as what you, as a College Minister, do! It's "After Spring Break" season!

Friday, March 20, 2015

A New Religious Preference?

In my role as an Interim Church College Minister, I attend the BCM's weekly outreach Lunch Program to connect with my students, meet new students and be of help when needed. Sometimes, I sit with some of my students and encourage them and meet their friends they have brought.

This past Wednesday I sat down across from a student who was obviously by himself. We shared names and I said, "Tell me about you". He said "Well, I used to be a Christian, but now I'm an explorer".

Obviously, I am familiar with the "Nones" that we speak and write of so frequently, but I had not had a student tell me they were an "Explorer". So, naturally I asked him to tell me more. He told me of exploring different religions and of what he saw as common features of different religions and which ones he saw as diametrically opposite each other.

Just as the speaker for the Lunch Program was being introduced, my new "Explorer friend" said he he had to go and left quickly. I am already looking forward to seeing him again. Oh, as he left he said, "Thank you for not judging me". I had not done anything special, so that statement surprised me.

So, what do we do with the "Explorers"?

One thought on my part is that we need to be up on the general thoughts and beliefs of other religions (Yeah, I know, I'm still trying to figure out everything Baptists believe.) and that in some of our teaching and speaking, we need to talk about how our Christian faith compares and contrasts to other religions. I also may tell my new friend that I'm an "Explorer" too.

The "Nones" are out there....but, the "Explorers" are out there too. Hey, isn't that part of why we have outreach Lunch Programs on college campuses? I will be there next week looking for Donald.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Has God Called You to Stay Where You Are?

I have always been of the opinion that if someone wanted to talk to me about a job, I would listen. It helped me know God had called me to stay where I was. It is the start of that time of the year. I have started receiving resumes from people who are looking for a College Ministry job. We will begin to hear about positions that are coming open as the semester draws to a close.

And, it is the time of year to be tired, frustrated and thinking....maybe, it's time for me to move on. How do you know that God has called you to STAY?

Once I was offered a job....a good job.....a promotion....a raise....and a car. When I began to think seriously that I should take it, I tried to think, "Why is this God's will"? First of all, trusted friends told me it was a chance to influence more people. That's a God thing..right? And, I needed a car. They told me I would be invited to speak on campuses all over. God wants speakers on campuses all over.

But, I began to realize that it was not the job that was "calling". It was all that went with it. It was not the everyday tasks that excited me nearly as much as the everyday tasks of the ministry where I was currently serving. So, how do you know when that call comes that it is "God's Call"?

Here are some things to consider:
1. What is the main appeal of this offer....really?
2. What is the main call of my life...for example, people or administration?
3. Am I crazy tired and frustrated at the moment, but that is not my overall feeling about my current ministry?
4. Have I accomplished what I think God brought me here to accomplish?

By the way, in the years to come, after I turned that job down, God gave me all the things that had appealed to me about that job. I can't promise you that, but without those things, I knew God had called me to stay where I was. That is a great feeling. I'm not just here because I'm still here, but God continues to call me here. I hope something in the days to come will continue to affirm your call to where you are.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Who is the Audience for Your Collegiate Event?

Since stepping away from the ministry at Arkansas State, I have had the privilege of attending different collegiate events on different campuses. Here are some things I have observed and learned.

-The same type event (large group worship or a Lunch Program, etc) may have very different audiences from one campus to the next.

-Who your intended audience is should determine your message and your style of presentation.

-Some have not decided who their intended audience is.

-The message or type presentation sometimes does not fit the target audience.

I have a friend who has a weekly Lunch Program that is aimed at non-Christian International students. His core students bring and welcome International students and the Gospel is always presented in some way by one of their staff. They have many International students who make professions of faith in their ministry.

The campus where I served for many years was on the buckle of the Bible Belt. There were hundreds or even thousands of students there who indicated they had made a commitment to Christ, but had little or no spiritual connection while in college. Some had had negative experiences with churches and had walked away from church. Others had simply not made it part of their college plan. Our Lunch program was aimed primarily at Believers who were not making a walk with Christ a priority at college. We worked at having engaging speakers. We urged them to talk about practical Christian to do it on a daily basis.

A part of having a target group is making sure that is whom you are speaking to. Or, it is making sure that guest speakers understand....and are willing or able to connect with that group. We once had invited a pastor from out of town to speak at our Lunch event. At the last minute, he had a family emergency and sent one of his staffers to sub for him. I shared with him who his audience would primarily be and that if he preached at them, they would simply put their heads down and not listen. But, if he spoke to them warmly and practically, they would hear every word. His opening statement after being introduced was, "I'm a preacher, not a speaker...if you wanted a speaker, you should have gone to Radio Shack". He then proceeded to preach and everyone put their head down and didn't hear anything after that. That experience reminded me of the overwhelming necessity of speakers who understood our audience. Also, the few times after that, if a scheduled speaker had a conflict at the last minute and offered a sub, I declined and did it myself.

Some Ministries offer a large group worship event that is is aimed at the very committed. Others have a weekly large group event aimed at non-Believes and there are lots of fun ice breakers with a testimony and a Gospel presentation. Their deeper teaching is then done in their small groups.

Another option is to designate one night a month of your large group event as "Gospel Night" and make sure your core students know that night is aimed at non-Beleivers and encourage them to invite and bring friends who might not know the Lord.

The bottom line is your events have a specific targe audience? If so, are you speaking to that target audience in a way they will hear at that event?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Not a Viral Blog: Doing the Details of Fund Raising

I am vain enough to love it when a blog of mine goes viral (well viral for someone like me who is not famous or cute as a puppy or baby). Last week over 400 people read a post of mine in a couple of hours. People retweeted it. It tempts me to write controversial, outrageous things about College Ministry. But, it is usually the more everyday kind of stuff that helps, benefits and grows our College Ministries. All that to say, this is just some details and reminders about fund raising.

If you do College Ministry, you have to be into fund raising...accept it and get on with it. You need a budget or you need a salary or you need more budget. Or, you want to keep the budget you have. So, here are some details that go with those realities.

1. Write thank you notes and letters. Yes; I've said this before and I will keep saying it. Be grateful. Let them know you got it and it matters. Why should I send money to you, if it doesn't matter?

2. If someone sends you money in honor or in memory of someone, let that person honored or the family of the one memorialized know of the gift. Send them the name and address of the person who gave the gift. That way, they can send a thank you, if they choose to do so. But, they know they or their loved one has been honored. Don't tell them how much was given. On occasion, I have said, "a very generous gift was given in memory of...". But, that could be said every time.

3. At the end of the year, send a receipt for tax purposes, if your ministry is a legal tax deductible organization. The law says you only must do so if the gift equals or exceeds an amount ($250, I think). BUT, I disagree. I believe in sending a receipt for tax purposes regardless of the amount. Again, it shows you are grateful. It may serve as a reminder to them of a gift that they might not remember for tax purposes. And, it reminds them about giving to your ministry.

4. Two or three times a year send a "Friends Letter" telling what is going on in your ministry. Your friends list should include those who have given or helped your ministry in some significant way. It doesn't have to be personal. It can just say, "Dear Friends, I just wanted to let you know some things that are happening". Thank You's are personal...Friends Information letters don't have to be.

5. A Crazy Idea: DON'T include a return envelope in every Friends Letter. The purpose of a Friend letter is information for appreciation and prayer.

6. YES; I do believe in donors getting something at least once a year with a return envelope in it. My experience is the best time for those is toward the end of the year. But, I have seen those envelopes come back for months. People stick them somewhere as a
reminder to give at a future time.

Be grateful to people, churches and organizations that give to you or your ministry. Don't take it for granted. Keep being grateful if they stop giving...maybe their circumstances have changed. Don't assume it means they don't care. And don't let them think you only cared about them when they gave.

I know this is the greatest blog you have ever read and you want to retweet it immediately!

PS: I capitalize College Ministry because all important titles are capitalized. It is not dr. is Dr. Jones.

Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Practices of Effective College Ministers

1. They keep looking at how others do it and learning new things.

2. They don't make wholesale changes to their ministry every year....rather, they tweak it.

3. They build their ministry up by building up their leaders.

4. They look for those who can counter-balance their weaknesses and allow them to do so.

5. They realize they have to raise some money and administrate.