Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Responsibilities of Veteran College Ministers

A few years back someone asked if I had read a certain new book on College Ministry. I had not heard about it and asked who had written it. My friend mentioned a name I had not heard of as the author. I asked who he was..."He is the College Minister for (famous Pastor's name)". Oh...that was the explanation for his expertise.

A concern that I have had in recent years is that many of our most experienced and knowledgeable College Ministers are not sharing what they know. There are lots of good articles on twitter, Facebook, Email newsletters, etc. But, absent from the conversation are some of the folks that have the most to share.

It is my deep conviction that those of us who have many years of experience have the responsibility to mentor others and hold up the banner of College Ministry. When we do that we are not claiming perfection, that we know it all or that we are God's special gift to College Ministry. We know something about surviving over the long term and we know things that work and don't work. Partly, we know things that don't work because we tried them...sometimes more than once.

My first year at Arkansas State was one of the toughest of my life. One of the reasons I survived was because a veteran College Minister would could call me about once a week and ask how I was doing. Then, he mostly listened.

In 1979 Ron Wells at Texas A&M was considered one of the top, if not the top, College Minister in America. He let me come and follow him around for three days and ask dumb questions. He acted as though he had nothing else to do. I bet he did.

Another facet of veterans speaking up is it highlights some of the most successful ministries in the country. I think College Ministry suffers from a false impression of declining success and student response. In fact, I think the opposite is true. These are some of the best days in what God doing is doing on college campuses. But, we must show it and tell it. Our veterans are some of the best ones to do that.

Why aren't we hearing more from veterans?

-For some it is sheer modesty, they don't want to seem to be tooting their own horn.
-It is often because they have kept a singular laser focus on their ministry and that is part of their success.
-I think many veterans today are overwhelmed with the continued development of technology even to the point of feeling some young College Ministers spend too much time there. So, the veterans don't use technology to spread their knowledge.

If you are young in College Ministry, realize there are lots of of folks who know a lot but may not write books or be famous....or work for a famous pastor. Find them and maybe even ask if you could come follow them around a few days....or maybe just call and ask them some questions.

If you are a veteran, look for ways to share what you know. Write an article. Post something on Facebook. Get a Twitter account. Everybody doesn't have to learn things the hard way. Find a young College a minister who might need some encouragement and call them up and ask how they are doing. Let others know the good things happening in your ministry.

When College Ministry is lifted up anywhere, we all benefit. When College Minstry struggles anywhere, we all suffer.

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