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