Thursday, October 29, 2015

2nd Most Important Task of a College Minister?

If you were to ask College Ministers what the most important task they have, most would say, "share the gospel" or "teach students to walk with the Lord".

But, what would they say is number two? Would it be leadership development or teaching students how to do personal Bible study?

Here is my Number 2: helping connect students to a local church. If they develop that life long commitment, it will help grow them, encourage them in difficult times, give them opportunities to serve, and if they have a family, be a blessing and help to them.

One criticism some pastors have had of campus based college ministries is that they replace church and even lead students away from local church involvement. Overall, I don't believe that is a valid least not with the college ministries I have observed.

November 15 is the Sunday set aside as an emphasis on encouraging college students to connect to a particular local church. In Southern Baptist life, it is called, "Why Church 2015. The idea is students have had time to visit different churches and likely have decided where they best fit. The trend in recent years is for students to just attend....not make any commitment to officially connect. But, a part of our teaching them about being a part of a church is teaching them to make a commitment.....not just float or be a visitor.

Many students don't join a church because they don't have a clue how or they grew up in one church and don't know how to officially to move their membership to a different one. This can be an opportunity to teach them different ways to connect to a church. College Ministries can talk about the different ways. Some Church ministries have a meeting of all students interested in possibly joining and explain the different options their church offers. In previous years some churches found that students were more willing to take this step when they knew they would not be the only one.

One church that has a large college ministry sends out a letter to all students who have
attended since school started inviting them to join on this day and telling them joining options.

If you lead a campus based ministry, you can partner with area churches in promoting this special Sunday. Or, you can simply challenge your students to connect to their different churches by taking the next step of membership on that day.

Some churches tie the Connect Sunday to a home football game weekend. Obviously, each situation can do what works best for their schedule and that might mean setting a different date.

Go to for more help and suggestions. Other than sharing the gospel with student what else can you do that will benefit their life more than helping them connect to a church? I believe it is the second most important thing we do!

Monday, October 26, 2015

FREE Monday...10 Commandments of College Ministry...Kindle E Book, October 26

My Kindle E Book, The 10 Commandments of College Ministry, which normally sells for the outrageous price of $1.99, is free today.

As a favor, I would ask three things.....would some of you write your honest review of the brief book on the Book Page?

Second, would you pass the word of today's freebie on to others?

Third, would you tell others about my College Ministry Blog and that they can follow me on Twitter @arlissdickerson where the Blog is posted.....usually twice a week.

Have a great Monday!

PS: if you are reading this on Tuesday, I think it is still showing as, if you are interested, check on it on Google.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

12 to 16 College Ministry Interns Wanted

Jon Barron, Baptist Campus Minister at the University of Kentucky, is planning to build a staff of 12 to 16 Interns to reach out to the 28,000 student UK campus in Lexington.

Would you like to be part of this bold experiment? Or, do you have students that you want to recommend? This is a large ministry that is wanting to do even more. For those wanting experience in doing college ministry on a flagship campus, this is a great opportunity.

For more info or to apply, contact Jon Barron:

Monday, October 19, 2015

The 2 Most Deadly and Quickest Killers of College Ministries

As listed in my previous Blog, I believe there are several things that will kill either a campus based or church based College Ministry. Some are slow killers and others can be almost instant. But, there are two I believe are the most deadly and I don't think you can rank one over the other as they are very different.


This one can be either instant or slow. There are many reasons that continual turnover is destructive to the ministry.
-Some students always disappear when there is a change in leadership. They were drawn to the previous leader and that relationship is no longer there.
-Due to some circumstances in their own life, they are not there when the new leadership takes over and no one misses them and re-enlists them. Or, they sense no one cares that they are not there.
-Sometimes a new leader brings a completely different philosophy or approach to the ministry and previous students are not comfortable or don't feel they fit with the new approach.
-A new leader may attract a different or new set of students and those previously involved feel left out or that they don't fit with the newer students.

So, what do we do with this issue? The answer is complicated because many things go into causing the problem. First, frequent turnover often comes due to a lack of support to the College Minister or the ministry as a whole. The salary may be minimal and people quickly move on just to survive financially. Or, they feel no one cares about it but them..,there is no emotional support. A growing issue is additional duties being added to College Minister job descriptions that make it feel impossible to do what is being asked.

Another factor is that College Ministers must realize that it usually takes three years for a College Ministry to begin to operate at full force. Simply put, that is three years of students coming into the ministry under the same philosophy, expectations, and leadership relationships. So, a College Minister, when possible, needs to make a long term commitment to that ministry. That means suffering through the hard building days and not assuming the grass is always greener in a new position.

Outside the College Minister's scope, those who provide the position must see the need for a livable salary that provides for a family and a job description thatnis do-able and attractive to someone who is called to College Ministry.


This one can be instant when others become aware of it. They simply see the ministry as a sham and they want nothing to do with it or don't want others to think that ministry represents who they are. First, please hear me, this is not a call for continual snooping or spying on leaders to insure their perfection. They are not perfect. But,the
issue is when there is a continual pattern of inappropriate behavior by people seen as being leaders.

-First, I think there must be clear expectations communicated to potential leaders of what the standards are. This can be done in interviews and with a signed covenant.
-When the leader becomes aware of inappropriate behavior, those students must be talked
with individually....and respectfully...not in an accusatory manner.
-Remember, there are false accusations made and there are one time mistakes made by the finest of students.
This comes to the point where you must sometimes accept the word of a student that the accusation or appearance of wrong doing is false or mis-understood by others. And,
sometimes you extend grace and a second chance even when it is as it appeared.

Several years ago, I became aware of continual mis-behavior by several students in our ministry, I confronted the issue and immediately the attendance at our large group
meeting dropped by half! Students who were involved in the inappropriate actions immediately stopped attending as well as friends of theirs. I was shell shocked, but felt I had done the right thing. But, I did not realize how heavy the price of my actions would be.

Then a crazy thing began to happen, attendance at our meeting began to grow and went
back to where it had been. First, there were new students coming who had been turned off to our ministry due to the behavior they had seen in several. They just assumed that represented our ministry. Not only had I not realized what was happening, but that it was affecting our ministry overall. Students on campus know what the reputation of your
ministry is..... when you do not! Then, some who had been involved in the mis-behavior came back with a new spirit and understanding of Christian actions and responsibilities.

I cannot promise if you take a moral stand and students leave that it will quickly grow back......but, I can promise you it is possible.

Is there something standing in the way of your ministry being what God wants it to be?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

12 College Ministry Killers.....Which Are You Ignoring?

1. Continual turnover of ministerial leadership
-There are always some students who disappear in any transition. Besides shifts in philosophy and approach, there are just relationships that are not there. Borderline people disappear and no one even knows it. Key supporters get left out....usually unintentionally.
-Stability is key to growing a ministry.

2. Playing favorites with students....or appearing to do so.
-A College Minister will always spend more time with key leaders, but talking to and relating to a wide variety of students at your key events is huge.
-A story is told about one College Minister who became close to a group of guys and they would spend large amounts of time with him. He would order pizza on the ministry account for them to eat together. Other students got that message.

3. Not cooperating with college officials and/or violating school policies.
-College officials can open or close doors for a ministry. Working with them is to your benefit. If they know and trust you, it can be surprising the doors and opportunities that open.
-If the school says don't put flyers on car windshields, don't do it....even if it is the plan of salvation. Some will say you are being "bold for the gospel". Nope; you are harming the overall proclamation of the gospel on that campus.

4. Being sloppy in handling, reporting and using ministry finances.
-I have never been aware of a College Minister stealing from college Ministry funds. But, I know of several situations where sloppy handling caused people to wonder and be reluctant to give.

5. Not communicating to your stakeholders, supervisors, employers what is happening in your ministry.
-The more people know the more they help and tout the ministry to others.
-The more people know the more it keeps your ministry in the budget.

6. Expressing a critical attitude toward other ministries.
-We can genuinely have disagreements with other ministries' theology or methods, but we must be careful to not be continually negative. This is a major turn-off to students and is harmful to the overall campus view of ministry groups.

7. Not staying true to the core principles, beliefs and purposes of the ministry.
-There are lots of good things we can do that keep us from doing the best things.
-We must always be a ministry, not a club.

8. Neglecting your spouse to do ministry.
-First, it is the wrong example to students in this day of struggling marriages or even belief in marriage.
-Some wind up having to leave College Ministry to make their marriage right after neglect due to working all the time. See #1.

9. Dampening students sense of ownership and initiative.
-In our desire that things be done well and with excellence or in a certain way, it is possible to make students feel inadequate or always wrong. So, they stop doing or leading out.
-I've learned the hard way that sometimes I must keep my mouth shut and in the end it is better....not done my way....but better!

10.Constant flux and change in the ministry.
-Every year is totally different. Often, it is a change to copy someone else's success.
-Meeting times, places and nights are always changing. There is no constant to build on.

11. The appearance of immorality or mis-behavior among your student leaders.
-Likely, this is the number one College Ministry Killer!

12. Working student leaders to death with little appreciation or positive input into their lives.
-We must never forget they are volunteers and the experience they have influences what students want to follow in their footsteps.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Information on Helping South Carolina Flood Victims

You can go to my Twitter account (@arlissdickerson)or my Facebook where I have posted a link from David Taylor, a College Minister in South Carolina, on suggestions for helping in South Carolina. Please share this information anywhere it will be helpful.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lessons from 42 Years of College Ministry

1. You don't get the "atta-boys" and perks that pastors don't have all the pressures and the folks you work with can't fire you.

2. School years start and stop. There are clear beginnings and endings that bring freshness to the ministry and refreshment to the College Minister.

3. There is a benefit to every age you are, if you just recognize and use it.

4. The sooner you get over thinking you are cool the better.....the students quit thinking it long before that.

5. The only way to survive long term is to have friends, colleagues, and supporters other than students.

6. Spouses have to share or embrace the calling to College Ministry.

7. Success is built by putting one year on top of another and most of the time making small tweaks, not wholesale changes.

8. Some years just go better than others....they just do.....only God knows why.

9. No matter how much you love and feel God-called to College Ministry....some days are hard and you have had all you can handle and selling insurance looks good!

10. Students will surprise you....good and bad.

11. It hurts when students you have invested in deeply walk away and you never know why.

12. You gotta raise money.

13. You have to do what gives you satisfaction....and some things that don' just do.

And....I still like chili dogs and pizza!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Working with Students "Second Experience"

Several years ago I served on a committee to pick students for summer ministry assignments. I read about 100 students' spiritual story or testimony. At least 80% of them said something like, "I became a Christian or joined the church or went forward, or prayed a prayer when I was 8, 9, or 10.....but then when I was 18, 19, or 20.."

They would go on to describe a second experience. Some would say, "I re-dedicated my life." Others would say, "I really became a Christian.".

Through the years I have had this conversation with an untold number of students. How do you handle it? How do you treat it? First of all, I think it is important and we should never take it lightly. I have sometimes called this decision the "Discipleship Decision". It was when a child's faith became an adult's faith. Obviously, there are those who went forward in a church service just because everyone else in their group was and made no spiritual decision. But, that is not true of all of them.

I believe you celebrate this decision with them and in the end you must label it whatever they label or a salvation experience. But, I think it is important to say, ok; now where do you go from here? What does this mean for you?

I am aware of some College Ministries who when a student comes to them wrestling with such an issue that they simply say the student should pray the prayer of salvation to be sure. And, they count them as a salvation. I think that is dishonest and unfair to the student in working through their experience. For many I have worked with, they had genuinely come to know the Lord very young and were now understanding and wanting to accept the fuller implications of that decision. That needs to be affirmed and helped.

I like the passage at the end of the "Woman at the Well Story". "We no longer believe just because of what you said, now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.". John 4:42
I think this describes many students who believed because godly parents or Youth leaders told them, but now they have owned it as an adult. Yet, there are those who just held up their hand or signed a card. We must help all of them work out their salvation "with fear and trembling".

Thursday, October 1, 2015

2 Dates for Your College Ministry Calendar

October 15 - Engage 24

This is a 24 hour period to encourage all Christian students within your college ministry to be intentional about sharing their faith with a non-believer. As you are aware, many who profess Christ have never shared with another how to begin a relationship with Christ. Some ministries will hold special projects that day while others will simply challenge their students to share in their daily contacts. Many hold some sort of gathering that evening for students to tell their experiences, to encourage one another, and celebrate together.

November 15 - Why Church 2015

This is the Sunday set aside to have a special emphasis on college students joining and officially connecting with the church they have been attending since school began in August. Many students simply float from one church to another and never make the intentional commitment. Prior to this Sunday, campus based College Ministries can emphasize the value of not just attending a church, but commmiting to one. A church College Ministry could
send a letter or text to all the students who have visited this fall telling them of this special Sunday and sharing with them the different ways they can join. Some even have a special meeting for students interested in joining. Often, students are more willing to take this step, if they know others are as well.

For additional information on these two dates, go to and