Monday, April 27, 2015

Some Things that Drive Me CRAZY in College Ministry

For me, it is sometimes a short drive to crazy. Here are some things that at least sometimes put their foot on the accelerator.

1. BAD Announcements - you might be surprised to know I am an advocate of announcements. There are things everybody needs to know. I know it is is trendy now to have no announcements. As a regular practice, I think you need them.

The 4 Laws of Announcements

1. Make no more than 4. The more you make...the less they hear. Never let the announcements take over and become the main event or even squeeze your time for what is the main event.

2. The person making the announcements needs to understand them! Ever hear someone announce something and say, "I have no idea what that means". We knew that before they said it.

3. The announcements need to be made in a way that a first time attendee understands them. Often, they seem to be in code.

4. Make only announcements that pertain to the larger group. Everybody doesn't need to know the Tea Party Committee is meeting.

2. Chairs randomly stacked or leaning around the room - I think a person's first visual impression of a room has a great deal to do with their perception of an event as a whole.

3. Messy bath rooms at a large event (not just dirty, but messy) - Plus, there is only one roll of toilet paper. Seriously, you knew there were 200 people coming.

4. Table Talkers that look like a legal contract - I am a big fan of Table Talkers at Lunch programs or other events where there are tables. But, remember they are like be read at a glance.....not with a magnifying glass and your attorney to get all the fine print. Elvis (yes; that Elvis) would not sign a contract longer than one page, I'm told. Make your Table Talkers Elvis friendly....short and to the point!

5. People who say to College Ministers, "You have the whole summer off don't you".

6. People who say to College Ministers, "That's not a full time job is it?".

To almost quote Patsy Cline, "I'm CRAZY for loving College Ministry".

Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Attend a Conference and a Suggestion for the Summit

The National Collegiate Ministries Summit starts in Nashville Wednesday, April 29th. Through the years it has been one of my favorite events. All of us go to conferences and sometimes invest a lot of money for registration, travel and lodging. So, how do we get our money's worth?

1. Set a couple of goals before going. I want to learn about.....

2. Decide in advance someone you want to be sure and visit with and set up an appointment in advance.

3. Don't just attend the seminars and breakouts of all your best buddies who think just like you do. Make sure you attend something led by someone who is on the opposite page from you in style or philosophy. It will challenge your thinking.

4. Look over the program in advance and plot your strategy. Yes; two of the things you most want to attend will be offered at the same time! I have often missed something I wanted to attend because I did not have in my head when it was offered.

5. Make a pact with a friend to share notes and handouts from different seminars...especially those happening at the same time.

6. Make 10 copies of your updated resume to take with know, just in case. Just kidding! Maybe!!

7. Think of someone you admire and could learn from. Send them a message and offer to buy them a meal.

8. Hallway visiting is wonderful and valuable. But, don't do it mindlessly. You may miss the thing you most wanted to hear.

9. Many conferences are small enough that you can shake the hand of one of the "program personalities" and have a word with them. You can ask your particular question or thank them for what they have meant to you.

10. Remember; the best snacks always go first at the breaks!

11. When attending the National Collegiate Ministries Summit in Nashville this week, be sure and meet Mark Whitt, Southern Baptist's Head Guru for College Ministry.

Friday, April 17, 2015

An apt good is a timely word!

"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply..and how good is a timely word". Proverbs 15:23

In my role as Interim College Minister at my church, I went to campus Wednesday to be at the BCM's outreach lunch program. I always go an hour or so earlier so I can walk the campus. I walk around and through the Student Center a couple of different ways and I go through the Library and back up the main sidewalk through the center of campus. Right after entering the Student Center I saw a student who comes to our Wednesday night event occasionally. I spoke and she ran up and hugged me and said how glad she was to see me. She went her way.

A few steps further I saw a student who is a a youth ministry intern at another local church. He came toward me obviously wanting to talk. We stood there several minutes as he talked about his ministry and wondering what direction God was leading him for a long term ministry vocation. I didn't say anything wise....I just asked some questions.

Then, I saw a student who had been involved in the BCM ministry when I was the Acting College Minister a year ago. She is getting ready to graduate and she wanted to just enjoy celebrating that and that she already had a job and an apartment in another city. No words of wisdom needed on my part....just congratulations and a listening ear.

Down the sidewalk by the Library, I saw a familiar face and he stopped to tell me about his summer job in another state. He was apprehensive.

I was reminded how important our words and "apt replies" are to students. Often, an apt reply is to say, "That's great"! or "Congratulations". I wonder how often our words are way more important than we realize.

Several years ago a former student came to see me and was telling me about her married life...and then she teared up and said, "I know you did not approve of our marriage". I was stunned and asked why she said that. She said, "When I told you we were engaged you said, "Tell him he is fortunate to marry up". I meant it as a compliment to her and a a bit of a joke. My words had not been "an apt reply".

I am strongly committed to the belief that we do not know all the ways God uses our words and replies and how important it is that we take our words seriously.

By the way, I am also strongly committed to always walking across campus!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Loyalty?......LEAST Read Blog of 2015?

I have often been asked what is the greatest change I have seen in students in my several years in College Ministry. The simple answer is loyalty...or the lack of it.

It used to be when you reached a student, they stayed "loyal" to your ministry if they continued to walk with the Lord. Now students may be a leader in your ministry one year and the next they move to a completely different ministry leaving you perplexed. It is a result of our more transient society. People no longer work one job for their whole career, etc. People no longer attend the same church their whole life.

But, I want to flip sides to this discussion. Are you loyal to your students?

Several years ago we had a singing group that sang in different churches throughout the area. It was a great ministry in the churches, helped train students for ministry and helped churches be aware of our ministry. We would have auditions for the group the second or third week of the fall semester. One year one of my Assistants was in charge of the auditions. My Assistant came to me and said, "This freshman girl is terrific and way better than the upperclass girl that sang that part last year". My Assistant said, "What do I do"? I said I would leave it up to she and her audition team. They chose the freshman girl over the upperclass girl.

The upperclass girl was hurt and soon left our ministry. A month later the freshman girl with the unbelievable voice had quit the singing group.

I made a mistake. I did not value the upperclass girl's loyalty and previous service.

If we want loyalty, we must model loyalty. I am all about excellence and being the best and asking for the best. We changed. If a student served on one of our worship bands or singing groups and had done acceptable and been faithful, and continued to walk with the Lord, they had the choice to return the next year. We changed our auditions to the spring for the following fall. A student had to have been active in our ministry for one year before auditioning for one of our groups.

When we choose someone with greater ability over someone who has been loyal and faithful, are we saying ability trumps character?

While asking for the best from your students, do you model loyalty?

Friday, April 10, 2015

7 Things College Ministry Leaders Should Know and Do

1. Look for students who want to be leaders and help them learn to lead.
-Affirm and encourage them.
-Help them learn from good and bad experiences.

2. Realize there is more than one kind or style of leader.
-For many of us, it is easy to think all good leaders lead the same way we do.
-Remember that some lead with their strong example.

3. Look for students who want to be followers.
-Some students aren't leaders; they are God called servants. You need them desperately.

4. Never quit listening to your students.
-A psychiatrist friend of mine once said, "Listen for the pregnant silences". They tell you lots.

5. Never take ability over character and loyalty for student leaders.
-When a student leader has been faithful and true, you be faithful and true with them.

6. Realize and accept that you will be criticized.
-It never feels good. It never gets ok. But, knowing it's part of the territory helps!

7. Look for opportunities to see and believe that God continues to call you where you are.
-It's not why did you come's why are you still where you are?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Why Use Guest Speakers?

Many people have commented on my previous blog about dealing with guest speakers and some not so positive experiences that we shared. Some speak every week for their weekly event. Some even have their small groups study the material that they have written or it comes off of their weekly message. But, I'm very positive about and advocate using guest speakers. Here are some of the reasons I think it is a plus.

1. Different students are attracted to and respond to different personalities. When you use a variety of speakers, you broaden your outreach to a wider variety of students.

2. You are trying to help students become what God wants them to uniquely be...not a clone of you.

3. Each of us who speak to students have an area of expertise and or emphasis in what we think is important they need to hear. You cannot be an expert in every area that students need to hear.

4. Using a special speaker for a Retreat or whatever adds an extra note of this is important or different...not just same old same old.

5. Using someone else to speak allows you to be free to focus on dealing with students individually and the details of the event rather than being focused on speaking.

6. The more you have to speak....the more time you have to spend in preparation which takes time away from other important tasks.

7. If we are the only speaker that our students hear, it more and more focuses the ministry around us and our personality and makes it more likely the ministry will not maintain at that level when we leave.

8. When students hear only us speak, they tend to share our strengths....and weaknesses.

9. When students hear only us speak, it is easier for them to become a follower of us rather than a follower of Jesus.

10. When students only hear one speaker all the time, it makes it harder for them to transition to a new church after college as they usually are looking for someone who does it just like who they have been hearing. It's easy for them to think there is only one style or way to think.