Monday, November 30, 2015

LAST Call for All College Ministry Alums.....Help the Ministry that Helped You.

Many years ago I had a "the light came on" conversation with an alum of our ministry. He said, "Arliss, I would give you some money, but I can't give you enough to help.". I realized a lot of people don't make a gift to a College Ministry because they cannot afford to give $200-$300 or more. They are embarrassed to send a small check and they think what good can $25 do.

At that time, we had 1200 people on our Alumni mailing list. A little quick math told me that if all 1200 gave $25, that would be $30,000! Now, $30,000 would help!! So, we began to ask our alums to give $25 a year. After that first appeal, my favorite response came from am alum who sent a check for $50. He said, "Here is $50 because I know there is no way my roommate sent his $25." We need to give people permission to give a small amount and to see the value of giving a small amount.

How many College Ministry alums are there in the U.S.? How many people have been positively affected by a College Ministry? What if all of them gave $25 this December?

The thought is staggering!!! Let's do some simple math (for me, never simple). If a College Minister had just 125 alums who had been affected by his or her ministry and each gave $25. That is $3,125. That is significant. Most ministries have way more alums than that.

1,000 alums....$25,000! What a difference $25,000 would make to a budget....or to someone raising their own salary. $25 can do that.

December is the month to challenge all who have been positively affected by a College Ministry to give $25 to that ministry. Let's not just challenge people who might give to our ministry....let's challenge all people to give to whatever ministry was a blessing to them.

Remember; if a gift is postmarked by December 31, it is tax deductible.

Isn't there a story somewhere about a little boy with a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread and some crazy amount of people that got fed with it? Jesus used the little.

Monday, November 23, 2015

"College Presidents Defend Importance of Free Speech"

In an article by that title, I was pleased to see presidents at Yale, Williams(Massachusetts)and, Wesleyan College speaking up for the necessity of free speech on college campuses. This discussion has come about due to some widely reported incidents of student groups protesting and even forcing the cancellation of speakers expressing ideas for which they disagreed.

Those of us in the community that advocates and works in the area of Christian college ministry should be defenders of free speech. First, as part of our basic ideas as a country, but selfishly in that when speech is free on campus, it continues to leave the door open for our Christian message to be shared. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech are two closely tied concepts, I believe.

That means for all of us we will hear things with which we don't agree. But, for a college campus to be a genuine place of learning and not just indoctrination, there must be a wide variety of views expressed....done in a respectful way.

In my view, I believe those campuses that have told Christian groups they cannot determine the qualifications for their groups elected student leaders have violated not only the Freedom of Religion principle, but also the spirit of our belief in Freedom of Speech. It does not mean the college administration or all religious groups agree with those qualifications. But, we respect their right to determine who their leaders are and what beliefs they hold and speak.

Some years ago, as a recognized student organization, we requested the use of the Student Center Ballroom (the largest meeting space available on campus) for a one night special speaker. Each recognized student organization could use it once or twice a year. The man in charge of the scheduling told me he did not want to do it. He said if he let our religious group use it, he would have to let "some religious group dancing around with horns on their heads use it and you wouldn't like that.". He was stunned when I told him I thought they had every right to do that. That didn't mean I agreed with their message.

The Associated Press article (November 23, 2015)quoted Williams President Adam Falk as saying, "I think that our students probably more so than than previous generations, come to college having been marinated in a media environment that does not foster productive conversation across disagreements. That means it is even more important that colleges find ways to work with students to teach them that and model that for them."

Those of us doing Christian college ministry must be part of these conversations. We can't be afraid to express our ideas and beliefs and expect that opportunity to be extended to us.....even as we allow others to say things with which we don't agree.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Worship Leader Sought for College Ministry Church

First Baptist Church, Murray, Kentucky is seeking a full-time worship leader. This person would lead both a contemporary service and one that is more traditional. First Baptist, Murray is a college ministry church near the Murray State University campus with 11,000 students. Keith Inman, the pastor, is a former College Minister.

Resumes may be sent to Keith at The phone number is 502.905.9268. Please share this information with anyone you think might be a possibility. Keith and I used to work together and I could not recommend him any more highly.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

College Students by the Numbers...... A Survey of Students Who Attend Church

A survey of students who attend church provides some interesting numbers. The survey was done by Dr. Donald W, Candill and Benjamin J. Payne who are located at Gardner Webb University in North Carolina.

78% indicated they like churches where they can meet people from different cultures.

68% said all things being equal they would attend a church that offered free food on a regular basis.

84% said they attend to learn more about the Bible.

94% would prefer to attend a church located near their place of residence.

53% prefer rock music, professional lighting and engaging media.

89% indicate the sermon and their perception of it as exciting would motivate them to attend.

Wonder how this would compare to a survey of non-church attending college students?

FREE Today...."Doing College Ministry Better"

My Kindle E-Book, "Doing College Ministry Better" is free today (Tuesday, November 17th) until midnight. Go to Amazon Kindle E-Books. This is the book that has been used as required reading in some seminary classes. Hope it is helpful to you. Any feedback is appreciated.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Followup on Students Who Visit the First Time

Followup? This is obviously a blog that was supposed to post in August and didn't....right? Nope this is for November.

College Ministers are super conscious of followup of new people during the all important first three weeks of school. But, I think we sometimes become sloppy about it later in the semester. We are emerged in just keeping things going and meeting with all the students we need to every week. And, if someone shows up now, it really means they are interested and will connect on their own. Plus, all those who are involved will see them and connect with them.....maybe!

I do believe that if a student comes later in the semester it means they have a genuine interest, have recognized the need in their life or one of your regulars has invested in them and brought them. But, to assume they will automatically feel welcome and get connected is a false assumption.

Three things I believe About Followup:

1. They need to hear from a staffer.

2. They need to hear from a student.

3. They need to hear from at least one within 24 hours, if at all possible.

Why a staffer? They may have come out of a very real and recognized need in their life that a staffer can likely speak into better than a fellow student. AND, I've learned that students sometimes get sidetracked and don't make that followup connection immediately like they meant to.

So, if a staffer is making a connection, why a student? Sometimes, the perception is that a staffer gets paid to do it and that if a student does it, it means more to the new person. Some feel a followup connection by a student expresses a more genuine interest in them...not just someone doing their job. So, you need to make sure a dependable student gets their name and contact info immediately.

How do you follow up? My three favorites are:

1. Text: they get it immediately and it is personal.

2. Facebook: I read lots of articles that say students don't do Facebook anymore. Most students I've dealt with don't seem to read those articles and don't realize that.

3. Phone call: This is my third preference because many students don't answer a call from a number they don't recognize. But, if they do answer, it is very personal and can answer any question they might have immediately. I have a friend who goes home and makes calls till 10:00 o'clock some nights. Don't tell him it doesn't work.

Sschedule a time for Followup: I blocked time after our outreach Lunch Program to try and connect with students who had come that day for the first time. Friday mornings were followup time for our our Thursday night event.

Followup on the Followup: Often, when I make that first connection I will say, let me buy you a coke some time and we can visit. Some will say then they would like to and so it can be scheduled then. But, after they come back for a second time is often the time to say, "Let's get together for a coke." I know you will say coffee....but I hate coffee. The last time...some years ago...I drank coffee was when a significant donor insisted. It was worth it!

So, how are YOU doing followup now?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Not Too Late......Sunday is Collegiate Connect Day!

It is not too late to be part of Sunday's Collegiate Connection Day in encouraging college students to join a local church. This is the day set aside by Southern Baptist College Ministries to teach and encourage students in committing to one particular church.

Here are some last minute ideas to consider:

-If you are a Church Collegiate Minister, send out a group text, message by GroupMe, Facebook, email, etc to students encouraging them and reminding them of different ways they can join your church.

-Buy lunch today or tomorrow for some individual students you know who have had interest in joining your church and answer their questions.

-If you know of students who are planning to join, let others know that in that it is easier when they know they will not be the only one.

-Campus based College Ministers who have a Thursday night event could have a brief testimony from a student who is a member of one of your local churches.

-Check out for lots of ideas.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Do You Have Some "Pretty People" in Your College Ministry?

I love College Minister meetings, workshops and seminars. There are always the connections with people who get the frustrations and pains I have. There is never the guarded and sometimes wariness I have felt in pastor meetings and conferences. Different methods, thoughts and philosophies are expressed which help me think through my own methods, convictions and practices. That is always a win.

At one such meeting, I had finished my responsibility and slipped into a seminar being led by a well known and very successful College Minister. I sat down between two veterans at the back and one leaned over and said, "He is talking about having a ministry to pretty people.". As I began to listen, the speaker was sharing his belief that to reach a campus you needed to reach the leaders of the campus...the Greeks, athletes, etc. Then, they would draw in and bring other students to your ministry. My back row friend felt it was only a ministry for pretty people. The seminar presenter called them "the Influencers".

Some ministries are often criticized as "just a ministry for pretty people". Other ministries are criticized for only reaching students that have no where else to go or to fit. And, leaders of those ministries can speak long and passionately about why their ministry is doing the right thing....reaching leaders....being the hands and feet of Christ to the least of these, etc.

I am all about leaders. No ministry can function without leaders. It must develop, attract, and train leaders. But, I would disagree with those who say all the leaders are Greeks or athletes or there are no leaders outside these two groups. However, if we are only reaching leader types, is our ministry what it is supposed to be? Every group needs some followers and servant types.

A few years back a non-denominational ministry on a well known deep south campus was having a once a week worship event aimed at fraternity and sorority members. It was attended by several hundred greeks each week. The decision was made by the leadership to open it up to all students on campus...not just Greeks. The attendance then fell to less than a hundred each week. The decision was made to go back to it being a "Greek event".
What happened there? I don't begin to know all the dynamics and local factors. A detailed study of that would fascinate a "College Ministry Geek" like me.

But, I have found Greeks and athletes to be pretty isolated groups from others....for one thing just because of time and schedule constraints. My caution would be that if your ministry is based on the idea of reaching Influencers that will reach others you should be looking all different places. There are Influencers all across campus in different places...not just Greek chapters and athletic teams. Beware of equating pretty and influential.

If your ministry is proud of the fact that you have no "pretty people", shame on you. The gifted and charismatic student has needs and struggles as well as being loved by God. They just are often more gifted in hiding their struggles and pain. I have the crazy notion that a College Ministry should have all kinds of students in it...pretty, not so pretty, out-going and shy, Jesus loving and Jesus doubting.

Many years ago I had a shaping experience. A student came to my office to tell me that
day she was moving out on her roommate. Her roommate had some physical disability and an angry personality. The friend cared for her, but could take it no more and said, "But,
I'm her last friend". That night I stood at the door visiting with students as they came in for our worship event. The young woman with the disability came in and sat down on the back row. I sat down beside her. As the music started, another young woman rushed in and sat down on the other side of me. She was a freshman...gorgeous, a talented singer, etc. Every group on campus was after her and she had shared with me her struggle with all of that. As the worship ended, the one leading asked us to all stand and join hands as we prayed.

As I stood between those two young women holding their hands, I became very emotional and had "a God moment". This is what College Ministry is supposed to look like.

Should we reach leaders...yes! Should we reach servants....yes! Should we reach those that lost their last friend that day, yes! We have to be intentional about reaching out to a variety of students. And we have to realize just reaching "pretty people" will not bring every one else. But, forgive us if we are proud that our ministry doesn't reach "pretty people".

A College Ministry Principle I strongly believe is, "Who we reach helps determine who we can and cannot reach". But, the Kingdom of God is supposed to look like all people. What are you doing to try to reach a mix of students?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Southern Baptists Collegiate Connection Day....Sunday, November 15

When college students across the country come to the campuses in the fall, churches and campus based ministries do an excellent job of outreach to both believers and non-believers. But, many of those students never connect to one church, but simply continue to float and visit. Or, they attend one church after visiting, but never commit to that church and begin to serve there.

Sunday, November 15th is the day Southern Baptists are calling whychurch2015. It is a day to point toward and educate university students in the need for church connection and how to do a church connection. New believers usually have no clue as to how or even why to connect to a specific church. And, students who came to Christ as a child in their home church often do not know how to or even why to move their membership to another church.

Today's collegiate believers are our future church leaders and servants. But, we must prepare and train them for that role. It is not too late for your ministry to be a part of connecting students to the church. Wouldn't it be great to see students flooding the aisles of churches Sunday, November 15? Or, wouldn't it be great to see one or two students join that day! Let's teach students to love the church and be a part.

For more information, go to