Monday, December 12, 2016

Secret Information for Campus Based College Ministers

Some years ago a man who made a great deal of money on different shady deals had a string of top selling books. The title would be some version of "Things They Don't Want You to Know". It might be about medicines or cures doctors did not want you to know or the Social Security information. Almost all of his information did not live up to his hype and was generally available in free sources. Last I knew, he was in prison.

I have always wanted to write, "Things They Don't Want You to Kmow About College Ministry"....and I soon as I know what they are. Since I don't know them yet, I will share my "secrets" to working with alums and their being a big part financially of building our on campus Center and of giving to staff support.

One of my greatest frustrations with our campus based tribe of denominational College Ministers is the significant number of people who do not take the idea of the necessity of working with alumni seriously. As there continues to be cuts made in Collge ministry staffs and budgets particularly among campus based denominational workers, it is like whistling passed the cemetery.

3 Reasons to Work with Alums:

1. Young Adults continue to walk away from the church. We can help.
2. Informed alums can speak out when cuts are on the table for discussion.
3. You need budget support..,AND...could even some day be asked to raise part of your salary (as Virginia has now told their BCM Directors).

Six SECRETS to Working with and Raising Funds from Alumni:

1. Alumni Newsletters are key.
It is an investment in them. But, it must be news about alumni. Some years ago a campus based ministry had been sending out a very homemade type newsletter with lots of Personals and a little ministry news. The alums were giving large sums of money. A new leader took over and went to a very polished slick and professional newsletter with lots of ministry info and little personals. The contributions dried up and the newsletter was discontinued. Give them news. By the way, older people have a hard time reading black print on red paper...don't do it...that's the Christmas go-to that is wrong.

2. Stress the value of small gifts.
Many do not give because they feel they cannot afford to make a large enough gift to really help. Lots of small gifts help....and I have learned some people who like what you do with a small gift later give a large gift. Twenty people that give $25 still adds up to $500.

3. Write personal thank you notes.
A note on a half sheet or a commercial thank you card can be simply three or four sentences. "Thanks for your check for $25. It came just before our Back-2-School Retreat and I used it to scholarship a freshman guy. I appreciate your continuing interest in what we are doing. Hope y'all are well! Arliss"

4. Communicate regularly, but not too much.
People don't want to be hounded or over run. But, I believe you must communicate at least twice a year. For many years we did a full alumni newsletter twice a year, but later did one full blown newsletter and then just a one page letter at the end of the
year. Remember; postal forwards expire after a certain length of time. If you are mailing, it is huge to keep getting those forwards and address corrections to keep your address list up to date. It is amazing how quickly you can lose people. Once a quarter I sent a "Friends Letter". This went to those who gave monthly or had for a long time or gave large gifts. It was not a newsletter. It was strictly a one page letter about what was going on and I did not enclose a return envelope. It was strictly information for those who were deeply invested. It went to about 50-75 people. Some were now older and retired who no longer gave, but had been significant in the past....and they still pray lots!

5. Always enclose an addressed return envelope in the newsletter.
We got these returned to us through out the next twelve months. I believe it not only makes it more convenient to give, but people stick it somewhere as a reminder to give at a time that works better for them.

6. List donors in your newsletter.
Do an alphabetical listing. I do not differentiate between the lady who gave $5,000 every year and the recent grad who gave her $25. You do not want anyone to be embarrassed. Again, it is part of saying all gifts are significant. Some ministries have different funds and they list which fund they gave to. Seeing that someone gave they went to school with often motivates another alum to give.

Don't like these "secrets" then come up with your own....but do something with alums!

Friday, December 9, 2016

BSU Director/Campus Minister Position Available

The Baptist Student Union at the University of Missouri is seeking a full time BSU Director. You may access the job description at The Mizzou BSU Director reports directly to the Mizzou BSU for Tomorrow Leaders Board of Directors.

Resumes and cover letters may be submitted to

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One Decision? ONE!

I am a huge proponent of end of the semester evaluation.....and thinking. Most College Ministers are too busy and frantic during the semester to really think. Now, as your students turn to finals and begin to leave campus, I would encourage you to evaluate and think.

In thinking back to my ministry at Arkansas State, I have come to the conclusion that one decision....ONE was a or the turning point for our ministry. We were fortunate to have a Center located on the campus. We had a full blown Lunch program with a speaker. It was held in the basement area beside the kitchen. After starting with about fifteen at the first one, it had grown to about eighty, which was the max for rhe area. There we were maxed out. I have shared in previous writings that the end of the semester is an excellent time to experiment....try something new. We had no way to expand and we were at max. The only solution, if there was one, was to serve downstairs and students walk up two sets of stairs to the much larger chapel/meeting room. We knew that would not work. But, at the end of the semester we decided to try it once to prove it would not work. It worked beautifully. That fall we were permanently located upstairs with students carrying their plates up two sets of stairs. Attendance grew to 200 then.

One decision...ONE decision, as I think about it, I have realized that one decision was huge in impacting all of what we did, who we reached, etc. We began to reach a wider variety of students from all across campus. A few years later we made another key I could call the ONE decision that most impacted our ministry. We began a specialized Freshmen Ministry with a Survival event and Monday night Freshmen Night. It grew our ministry. Perhaps, it is that one decision that was the beginning of the talk and then support of a much larger and more modern Center that was primarily paid for by individuals and churches.

So, was it TWO decisions...NOT ONE? You can certainly make that argument and I am ok with that. In fqct, I have said previously that the move to Freshmen Night was the most important decison we ever made. I say one, because I believe that first decision led to the second one. My point is that we often don't realize the positive impact of one decision. OR, perhaps we don't realize the negative impact of not making a key decision or change.

Now, as your days de-stress a little and there is actually time to think and evaluate, is there ONE decision, choice, or change that needs to be made? Is there something that would solve the problem, but the obvious solution will not work. Or, will it?

I am on record as believing that the Spring Semester is a time to try or experiment with a change you are considering. Lots of times it is at the end of the Spring Semester. But, perhaps there is one thing you need to try a few times over the semester. Or, are there some options that need to be tried over the semester....then, you choose which is the correct ONE decision?

ONE decision....ONE. I must admit I did not know the decision to move the Lunch Program was as key as it turned out to be. I knew it was important...,but wow.

If there is ONE....just ONE thing that is holding your ministry back, what is it? What are your choices? Think about it....PRAY ABOUT IT! What is YOUR ONE?

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tell Your College Ministry Story

I became a Christian when I was nine years old and grew up active in church. In school I was all about sports (and just an average student). I was with my church friends at church and my football/basketball friends at school. I was not involved in anything negative....just two separate worlds.

My Senior year, our church took a group of us to visit Southern Baptist College (now Williams Baptist College) and as part of the tour they took us to the BSU Noonday program. I thought it was the best thing I had ever been to and that sold me on going to Southern. While a student there through the BSU, I was given all kinds of leadership and speaking opportunities that really challenged me, affirmed me and help me grow. Dr. J.T. Midkiff was the BSU Director and he gave me a ton of opportunities that grew me. At that point, it was a Junior College and so at the end of my two years, I transferred to Arkansas State University.....and frankly, I went because of the great reputation of the BSU there. Dick Bumpass was the BSU Director. Dick had played football for Bear Bryant at Texas A&M and was quite a commanding presence. Dick was a reader and challenged me to read. I still remember the first "Christian book" I ever read at his recommendation. It was "Taste of New Wine" by Keith Miller.

But, my greatest take-away was that I became connected to students who were athletes, Greeks, etc who were active in the BSU and was really challenged to integrate my faith into all parts of my life....not live a school life and a church life, I had begun to do in high school. Again, I was given opportunities to serve and grow that expanded my world and my sense of who God was and how he wanted to work through my life. Through Southern and ASU Baptist Student Union experiences I met Dr. Tom Logue who would become a huge influence and future boss.

This is just a brief version of how God has used College Ministry in my life and why I am giving twenty five dollars to these ministries this month as part of the #Givetwentyfive challenge asking all College Ministry alums to give twenty-five dollars to the ministry that God used in their life. Tell your story and encourage others to give. We want to give $1,000,000 to College Ministry this month. Please tell YOUR story. #Givetwentyfive #tellyourstory

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"I've Worked my 40 Hours."

A friend tells of a ministry staffer of his explaining why he was not with some volunteers one night, "I've worked my 40 hours.".
He wanted to be home with his family and had done his job. First, if those of us in College any ministry think it is a 40 hour a week job, we are badly mis-led. Of course, I hear of College Ministers working 50, 60, 70 hours per week.

There is a story of one campus based College Minister, who to supplement his income, had begun to sell a product in one of the multi-level market programs and had multiple people under him. He got to the point he was driving a very expensive car and word was he was spending more time on it than his ministry. His supervisor told him he had to work "at least 40 hours a week". He quit.

I have confessed in a previous blog that I think I did not do right by my family in some times I worked and did not take some vacation time, etc. So, what is the right work/family/off time balance?

There is not a magic formula. But, if 40 hours is your limit, College Ministry is not for you! Another part of that is a College Minister spouse understanding that. A while back a friend who leads a very large College ministry was about to get married. He said to me, "What does she need to know?". He serves on a church staff and I said, "Have her talk to some of the other staff wives, so she will know some of what to expect.". A campus based College Minister shared with me the tension in his marriage due to his wife's expectation that he should be home at 5:00 every day. That just does not happen.

Some things to Consider, Understand, or Try:

-Work when you need to work, but make sure that some of those crazy times or hours is not due to your own sense of "nothing can happen without me.".

-When the college schedule is slower, you be slower.

-Realize lots of people (not in ministry) work more than 40 hours a week.

-When you have night obligations, schedule to go home at some point in the afternoon and then go to your night event. My daughters laugh at all the early times we had family supper and then I would go back to the campus. But, we had family supper.

-Don't expect volunteers to be somewhere or do something you are not willing to do. They have jobs, school, or families too!

-Try to have one weekday night that NOTHING is ever scheduled. For me and us, that was Tuesdays. That makes calendar planning a little simpler.

-Get your super organized friend to help you look at your regular weekly schedule and see where you are not utilizing your time to the best advantage which causes more work hours.

-You never want students to feel you are too busy to talk to them. But, there is a difference in their needing to talk to you and your just hanging out with them till midnight all the time. You are not a student who doesn't have a class till 11:00 a.m.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Million Dollars for College Ministry by December 31!

One million dollars has a nice ring to it! If you work in College Ministry or if God used it in your life, the thought of one million dollars given to College Ministry by the end of the year is exciting and encouraging.

Who is this benefactor? Who is doing what we all wish we could do? Simple: it is you and me! Wait you say, obviously you have my bank account confused with someone elses. Here is the deal, if 40,000 of us give just $25 to the College Ministry that blessed us in college, that is $1 Million. That's's that simple. No one has to have won the lottery or sell their house. Give $25 and encourage others you know to do the same.

What ministry is promoting this or who benefits from this? That's up to you.....I am a BCM/BSU guy, so I will be giving to a BCM ministry that blessed me. But, you might have been part of a Cru ministry, Wesley, FCA, Chi Alpha, Student Mo, MBSF, or one that was just on your particular campus.

Spread the word. Share the hashtag #Givetwentyfive.

If you are a College Minister,

-Spread the word to your alums.

-Pass the word to other ministries on your campus....Givetwentyfive. Let's do all we can to benefit everyone!

-Make sure people know how they can give to your giving on line an option. Let people know how to do it.

If you are a College Ministry Alum,

-Just give $25 by check, cash or thru On-line Giving. Use the hashtag, #Givetwentyfive.

-Spread the word on social media....."A Million Dollars for College Ministry". #Givetwentyfive

-Be part of this national movement. It's not Baptist, Methodist, Assembly, or Non-Denominational. It is a movement to bless the college campuses of America.....and to encourage all those who do College Ministry!

Give $ is as simple as that.....and punch your old college roommate....they can do it too! #Givetwentyfive

Monday, November 21, 2016

12 Questions to Ask About Your College Ministry

1. If the big attracts and the small keeps, which do you do best? What needs improving?

2. Can a student do all of your ministry in one year....why should or will they come back next year?

3. If freshmen are the most available and open, how are you being freshmen intentional?

4. If a student wants to come to your large group event, how easy or hard is it to find and to know what to do?

5. What is the main reason students connect to your ministry?

6. What's the main reason students don't connect to your ministry?

7. What is the perception of your ministry by those outside of it? Why is that?

8. What is the strength of your ministry?

9. What is the weakness of your ministry?

10. What's the one thing you would do if your budget were larger? Do others know that?

11. Do your students hear about the gospel, forgiveness and calling?

12. Are you challenging your alums to give $25 by the end of the year? #Givetwentyfive

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Know Anyone Who Was Impacted by a BSU, BSM, BCM, or Other Baptist Ministry?

Wonder how many people have been impacted by BSU (or a Baptist ministry by another name) in the last fifty years? The number would be in the thousands and could even be in the millions. What if ALL of us gave $25 to that ministry by the end of this calendar year? I am not particularly good at math, but twenty-five times one million is $25 million. Or, 500,000 times $25 is a measly $12.5 million.

Many BSU's, BCM's or BSM's have experienced financial cut backs in recent years. Did you know that Virgina has recently told their BCM Campus Ministers that in the next year or two they must begin to raise part of their own salaries? That is in addition to money many already raise for their program budgets.

As church giving has declined, many local campus ministry budgets have seen cutbacks in what they receive. Some campuses that had multiple staff have lost associate positions. In this day of growing expenses and the loss of college young adults to the church and faith, many of our College Ministries are trying to do more with less.

The answer is pretty simple. If ALL of us who were impacted for good, came to know the Lord, met our spouse, would have QUIT college that first semester wihout the BSU, or served in a leadership role in a campus based BSU/BCM were to give just $25, the need would be met. Why $25? All of us can afford to give $25 some time between now and the end of the year. This is not a plea to the wealthy or that "one percent" we hear so much about. This is for ALL of us.

What if you challenged everyone who was in your Freshmen Bible study group to give $25? Or, what about all those guys who were on your Intramural football team? Remember how you did not know how you would have made it without that group? You can make sure that ministry can continue to do for others what was done for you.

If we all give $25, we can see a miracle in what is happening on college campuses.

Did you know....

-there were 10,632 salvations through BCM ministries this past school year?

-615,706 students reached?

-9,472 small group Bible study groups?

-4,469 students who served in Summer Missions?

The College Minister/BSU Director who meant so much to you may still be there. Or, it may be someone you do not know. But, receiving $25 from you will be a huge encouragement to them at the end of a long fall semester

Pass the word. Let's all #Givetwentyfive

Friday, November 11, 2016

Has the "Golden Age of College Ministry" Passed?

In the time since we stepped away from the ministry at Arkansas State, more than one person has said in one way or the other, "You left at the right time". Or, "You served in the Golden Age of College Ministry.". The message there is that it is or will be down hill from here.

Why do some people say the best days of College Ministry are over?

-Many campuses or even states such as California have taken a more negative view of campus based ministries and sometimes make it difficult or near impossible to function as a recognized student organization.

-Some state conventions within the Southern Baptist Convention have made major cuts in their College Ministry. Some have sold their Centers or reduced staff significantly. Another recently announced they were moving toward "partially funded positions" meaning that their Campus Ministers will soon be required to raise a part of their salary.

-Giving to local churches is on the decline as the Boomer Generation is beginning to pass from the scene. So, cuts driven by finances are being made in many areas with more to come.

-There is disagreement in some quarters as to whether the best way to do College Ministry is with a campus based student organization or with a campus based church plant.

-College students are more suspicious of organized religion and the number of "spiritual not religious" continues to grow.

Several years ago Calvin Miller, the great Christian writer and speaker, and I were driving from one campus to another and he was talking about whether he would leave the large church he had planted to become a Seminary Professor. His words were golden to me. He said, "I'm trying to decide if I am at the end of a book or just at the end of a chapter.". He went on to say, if it were the end of the book, he would go to the seminary role. If it were the end of a chapter, he would begin some new and different things at the church. I have never let go of that statement. He went on to say that we often mistake the end of a chapter for the end of the book.

I believe College Ministry has come to the end of a chapter. It is time to do some new things and think some new thoughts. It is not the end of the book. But, we can't let go of some basic principles and that is part of our confusion. Which are methods and which are principles?

-Many College Ministries are larger than they have ever been.

-A few are even building new and larger campus based Centers.

Some suggest that we should leave the larger flagship campuses where there are multiple ministries and go to the smaller commuter campuses where often no ministries exist. While I am all about reaching campuses no one is touching, I recoil at the idea of leaving the "Influencer Campuses". I believe that's not wise strategically for many reasons.

Recently, the North American Mission Board of the SBC has said they will not plant campus based churches in the south, but rather focus on non-Bible Belt campuses where there is often no evangelical witness, let alone a Baptist one. This comes out of the discussion of whether it made sense to plant a campus church where there was a strong campus based BCM.

Should we focus our resources on "Influencer Campuses" rather than trying to be everywhere? Should we let denominational based College Ministers raise money for large staffs? Should we develop alliances and "working agreements" with other go there and we will go here? Since these conversations are uncomfortable (to me for sure), we often do not have them.

There are lots of discussions to be had. Part of it is simply understanding it is the end of a chapter....not the end of the book! It is time for some new thoughts. But, they must be made strategically AND not just be financially driven. I believe the money is available for College Ministry, if we make our case......and have a strong new chapter strategy!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Simple College Ministry Formula or Stategy....GOATS!

People starting out in College Ministry, volunteers or part time workers will often ask, "What is a simple formula for doing the basics?". Or, a long time veteran will say, "How do I make sure in the middle of doing all I do that I have not lost sight of the meat of what our ministry should be?".

GOATS or G.O.A.T.S. is my answer.

G...GROWTH: Do discipleship one to one and effective small groups.

O...OUTREACH: Intentionally connect with those who don't automatically come to you and or do know not know Christ. I believe the most effective way to do this is through intentional and specific Freshmen Ministry and outreach in the most critical first three weeks of school.

A...A RALLY POINT: this is a group worship or teaching time that builds an identify for your ministry, an encouraging fellowship and a low commitment entry point.

T...TRAINING: Train students to be leaders in your ministry, in the church and for our society. Developing student leaders is the great multiplier of our ministry, time, and variety of spiritual gifts.

S...SERVICE: Provide opportunities for service in the community and in the world. Today's student wants to make a difference. Even non-Believers can be attracted to opportunities to serve. Developing a servant spirit is part of our ministry.

How is your GOAT ministry doing? Are you a GOAT herder? Or, have you lost sight of the basics?

Monday, October 31, 2016

The College Ministry Multiplier

It increases the number of students you reach, it brings spiritual gifts the leader does not possess, and it deepens the discipleship of many of your students. Plus, it provides the college ministry leader with more time for the tasks that matter most. What is this magic potion or formula and how much does it cost?

The "College Ministry Multiplier" is the development and empowerment of a significant number of student leaders. The cost is an investment of time and intentionality that pays off in the long run....maybe even the short run! One of the key elements of developing and empowering student leaders in a College ministry is one to one meetings.

Here are Eleven Elements of Transformative One to One Meetings:

1. Have a set time and place. Don't leave it to chance or weekly arrangement.

2. Meet somewhere private to avoid interruption and for ease of very private conversations.

3. Decide your regular structure. I ask for a commitment of one hour. Thirty minutes for the personal and thirty minutes for their leadership role and responsibilities.

4. Allow the personal discussions to go to whatever level the student is comfortable. It will change over time.

5. Ask questions in the personal time.

6. During the leadership time discuss upcoming events and their responsibilities.

7. Help them evaluate previous ministry events and actions from the previous week.

8. Help them deal with and learn from any sense of failure.

9. Give honest praise for time spent, accomplishments, and effort.

10. Always close in prayer. Many have never learned to pray aloud with another person.

11. Tell them you will see them next week, same time and place and to be sure and let you know if they need you for anything.

This is an abbreviated excerpt from my Amazon EBook, 25 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING COLLEGE MINISTRY LEADERS.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Campus Centers for College Ministry.....Has Their Day Past?

The argument has recently gained fuel as to which is the most effective way to do college ministry....with a campus center or a large staff. Some of the very large college ministries do not have a building of their own and do very well. One campus minister a few years back when asked about it, he said, "I notice that those who say you don't need a building are always asking to borrow mine.". Some who have campus centers recently have questioned if it is the best way to be effective.

First let me state one overwhelming principle I again and again learn the truth of: there is more than one way to do college ministry well. One size/style does not fit all!

Let's get honest. The main thing that is driving the renewal of this discussion is money. It takes money to build, operate and maintain a campus center. If a ministry cannot afford to do that, then that settles the issue. But, don't make it a philosophical is a money discussion. However, when money is tight, it is wise and correct to ask, "Is this a wise use of our money?". I did college ministry on two campuses and each with a campus center located either on campus or across the street. I am firmly in the corner of the value of campus centers.

Eight Ways a Campus Center Benefits or Strengthens a College Ministry:

1. It demonstrates the permanency and commitment of that ministry to that campus.

We are here. We have been here and we will be here in the days and years to come. Several years ago there was a non-denominational ministry on our campus with five staff members reaching a large number of students. As they began to decline in numbers, they cut their staff. At one point the staff leader told me, "We would not still be on this campus if it were not for the large amount of money being given by people in this area.". They eventually shut down and left. Our commitment to minister on large flagship university campuses that affect the entire state and even our nation as a whole must be resolute!

2. It is neutral ground for churches to work together.

We found that churches were more willing to cooperate on joint college ministry projects when it took place in our campus center. For example, our International Student Thanksgiving Dinner had lay people from different churches serving and cooking side by side.

3. It fosters partnership events with the administration and other campus groups.

We hosted numerous events (and did not host nearly all we could have) that involved University officials. I never minded having the president or one of the VP's tell me how much they appreciated us and would ask me to come sit with them.

4. A campus center can be a source of pride and focus for alums.

Our ministry could not have done nearly all it did staff and program wise without the generous financial support of alums. The Drop-In at Homecoming was a key connector. When we built our new much larger center, alums and other interested individuals gave a significant amount of the money and or influenced their church to give. They would drop in when they came to town to see their name on the wall and how the building looked.

5. It facilitated our Outreach Lunch Program.

I am a huge fan of outreach lunch programs. A center located on or near campus is almost a must to do this type event. Each week to have 200-300 students hear a Christian speaker and be connected to Christian students is huge. We had student leaders, International students, and a wide variety of students from all across our campus come on a regular basis. It increased our visibility and outreach to the whole campus.

6. It allows a larger and wider variety of ministry events.

International conversation partners met there in groups. Men's and women's events were held there. One year we could not reserve a Retreat Center for our Back-2-School Retreat. We held it at our Center at a much reduced price with a much larger attendance. We never went back to the camp.

7. Our center hosted multi-church Youth and adult training events.

I never thought we did as much of this as we should. But, we had regional youth rallies and some training events for Sunday School teachers.

8. It kept us focused on the campus.

I hear some college ministers say there are days they are not able to get to campus. We walked on campus every day.

1. If your ministry prefers to raise money to have a large staff, there are lots of good reasons to do it that way. Almost all who have a large staff raise money for staff. Perhaps, some need to consider raising money each year to operate their campus center in a first class way.

2. If you have a center, it needs to be kept clean, attractive, and functional. I see some that look
junky and like they have not been cleaned recently....this semester. Fresh paint goes a long way. Have you considered hosting a volunteer work team?

3. Think of it as a can we use this tool in the most effective way?

Given a perfect world and all my wishes, give me a campus center and three or four Associates or Assistants. One would do Internationsls, one Freshmen Ministry, one Media and one athletes.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The 5 Core Skills of a College Minister??

One of the great opportunities and fun things I have gotten to do for the last several years is teach an annual seminar for new College Ministers. Sometimes, we have eight or ten and others years we will have as many as thirty-five, as we did this past August. When we started doing it, we had seven hours. In recent years to fit a total program schedule, it has been squeezed to three hours. So, I've thought, what if I had to say in a few words or phrases, this is what a College Minister must do and do with some level of proficiency?

Here is my first swing at "The Five Core Skills of a College Minister":

Relationships are the currency of our ministry. All College Ministers do not have to be extroverts, but must give priority to relating to a wide variety of students. And, some of our most significant investments will be in one to one conversations and on-going relationships. Evangelism and Discipleship take place within this skill set.

The multiplier in a college ministry is student leaders who multiply a College Minister's time, increase the outreach of the ministry, and bring a wide variety of gifts to the ministry. So, an effective College Minister must be looking for leader types and developing leaders. If a ministry has a student worship band, it is a constant to be looking for and develoing students who can be effective worship leaders. It is also part of our task to be building these students up for future service in local churches.

I almost want to put an asterisk by this one. Because, most will see this as the effective College Minister must be a great preacher. It is a much larger skill than that. I am concerned that too much emphasis is being given to simply preaching to students in recent days. There are great and effective College Minisrers who are not great speakers and do not speak at their events. The larger and even more necessary skill is to communicate a vision for the ministry. This must be communicated to students, stakeholders, and financial donors. It is, "This is where we are going; come be a part of it!".

There are more things that need doing than can be done in one ministry. Someone has to say this is what we will do and this what we will not do. And, the College Minister cannot continually be looking back and questioning many choices that have to be made. Passion does not determine effectiveness. There has to be a plan.

By this I mean, the effective College Minister must be willing to function in the midst of a diverse campus environment and allow student leaders to serve in ways a bit different then he/she would. Sometimes, it will mean working with other Christian groups or ministries which are different and do not hold identical theological views. It does not mean endorsing everything or thinking anything is ok. But, it does mean that everything does not have to be perfect or done as we would do it for our being able to function in the midst of it.

What's your thoughts on the necessary core skills of an effective College Minister? I would love to hear from you...either by a private message or your comments here. I do not see this as my final list and would love to have your participation in defining the necessary core skills. This would benefit not just new College Ministers but all of us who want to do even more effectively what God has called us to do.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How Does a College Ministry Begin Working with Alumni?

I am on record with one of my "over the top" statements that a campus based College Minister who does not work with alumni should be fired. I not only hold to that statement, but recent events have caused me to double down on it. One Southern Baptist State Convention recently told their full time College Ministers that they will be expected to raise part of their salaries within the next couple of years. Where is the source of that? One obvious possibility would be alums who have experienced the value of that campus ministry in their own lives.

HOWEVER, I do not believe we should just work with alums for the purpose of them helping to support our program budget or even our own salaries. First, we should work with and encourage them in the next steps in their spiritual pilgrimage. I have long believed that the most effective evaluation of our ministry is what our students do faith and church wise following college. Obviously, we cannot determine, but we need to do all we can that points our students and former students toward a lifetime of spiritual growth, discipleship, and ministry.

If we do that and keep them informed about our ministry, alums can be a huge resource. Some campus ministries have Alumni Work Weekends that do needed work on campus centers. Others utilize them as role model mentors, speakers, small group leaders, etc. Plus, they make great spokespersons for the value and importance of college ministry.

So, what do you do if there is no alumni list? Some have said, there is no list and it would take time to get anything established, so there is no point in it. Rather, I would argue that someone has to begin. You would be thankful if someone prior to you had established alumni gatherings and an alumni list and on-going financial work.

So, where do you start whether you have not been there long term or not? Here are some ideas.

-Many ministries have pictures of past Leadership Teams or Mission Team pictures. Is there a list of names with each picture? Start with those. Likely, some of them are locals and you can easily secure their addresses. Ask them for any contact info they might have of peers.

-Host an informal gathering of three or four alums to brainstorm names.

-Search Facebook.

-Ask local friends who have expressed interest in your ministry for the names of alums.

-Some ministries add the name of each freshman involved at the end of their first year.

-Each spring following commencement, go through the list of graduates for those to add to your list.

-Consider establishing a "Friends and Alums List". This would be alums and individuals you know who have an interest in the ministry, but were not necessarily involved.

-Ask your Alumni/Former Students Office if they ask alums to list organizations in which Rhey participated. If so, will they give you those who listed your ministry. We were able to do this one year.

-Advertise by social media and any means possible a gathering (such as at Homecoming or a summer picnic) of alums of your ministry. Invite all those you run across.

-Ask two or three alums to serve as officers of a new Alumni Orgqnization and help you begin such a group.

-Begin to send at least an annual newsletter with news of individual alums and of the ministry. Remember, pictures from the past are always especially of interest.

The simple and most important suggestion is begin. Start....someone has to start. Even if it takes a few years for it be of value, it will benefit the ministry even if you are not serving there any longer. Many people have planted Shade tress they never sat under.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Counseling with College Students

Several years ago there was a survey taken of College Ministers asking in what area did they most need and want help. The overwhelming number one response was counseling. Students have issues for which they are looking for someone who might provide them some help. I classify the issues that students are looking for help with in two categories.

The two categories are crisis and developmental. Crisis is when something negative has happened and they need immediate relief or help in knowing where to turn. Developmental is the decisions of life as to what is next. All of us make developmental decisions, but it seems that college students are faced with the most developmental decisions. That is why it is such a key life point.

I am not a certified counselor or see myself as a professional counselor. But, as a young College Minister looking for help in this area, I was fortunate to be able to do a Masters Degree in Guidance Counseling. Let me share some steps to take in helping those students whom God has given you when they come with questions and concerns.

Listen hard. Don't be in a hurry to talk. Listen. Shut up and listen. A psychiatrist friend of mine said once that many people that came to him did not need a professional counselor, they needed a good friend who would listen to them. He also reminded me to not be afraid of what he called "the pregnant silences".

The point of asking questions is to get them to understand what they are saying and to draw them out.

The term for this is "Reflection". There are instances when students are able to crystalize what the issue is, there ia relief that comes. I have literally had students express great gratitude to me for my help when all I did whas listen, ask some questions, and help them summarize their concern or put it into words.

If there is a decision to be made, what are the options? Many poor decisions are made because the student did not know or consider ALL the options. The second part of that is getting with people who can give them correct information about their options. Since many developmental or college crisis situations involve school, majors, etc, it is imperative they go to people who can help them know options or proper procedures. It is amazing how many poor decisions are made because, "The guy who is a 7th year junior that lives down the hall said I

It is easy for a student to make a snap decision without considering any long term consequences. And sometimes, the long term week. What will happen as a result of this decison or action and can the student live with it? Relieving the pain of the moment without considering the consequences can cause greater pain later.

Students will ask you what they should do. It is not your life and you are not the one that will live with the consequences. Resist the huge temptation of telling them what to do. Help and let them make their decision. Again, this is where considering options and future consequences are huge.

Will this decision in any way impact others.....particularly their family? Again, snap decisions are often made without any thought to how it will affect others.

It will not be long before students will come to you with issues way beyond your capacity to help. Don't decide you are just as good as a professional counselor. Refer them to someone who has the training to help. clear that you are not trying to get rid of them. Hear them and you may continue to visit with them throughout the process to express love and support. But, never let them hear you saying you just don't have time to talk with them. This also takes into account that you can quickly spend all of your time with a few students who need lots of emotional help and support. It can short circuit your ministry. Are you really called to be the counselor on campus?

Confidentiality is a must. However, if something illegal has occurred or been done to the student, you have a responsibility to report it. A second question to consider is, should their parents be made aware? An example: one of my students made a suicide attempt. Her Floor Counselor called University Police who took her to the ER where they pumped her stomach. Her roommate called me. The police then took her back to the dorm. I asked what else would be done and the answer was nothing. I made the decision to call her mom who came and got her and took her home. It was the right decision. Only rarely should parents be informed without the students' permission, but I think there can be exceptions. You must make that tough decision.

Obviously, this is way over simple for difficult situations. But, when students come to trust you, they will come to you with their issues. Hopefully, this can give some framework to your helping them. If you feel totally inadequate to help, are you aware of the counseling options on campus and do you have a relationship to
them? Knowing who to refer to and how to refer is important.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The College Ministry Lid.....More Possibilities.....and The Awkward Question

In a recent Blog, I wrote about the lid that is keeping your ministry from reaching any more students then it does currently. The point was to identify what your primary lid is and then to begin to address it. That does not mean your ministry will suddenly double in size. Usually, a lid is there because it is a tough or complicated issue. While identifying it is huge, that doesn't mean that a fix is obvious or quick. It might be a long process.

But, equally important as you address the lid that has closed your ministry at it's current level, I believe you must identify your strength or unique point of your ministry and ask yourself, if it is being utilized to the fullest. What is the main reason students come to your ministry and continue to come? What is it your ministry is really doing well.....not in your eyes.....but, in the eyes of the students. You might be surprised that their view of the ministry strength or uniqueness might not be the same as yours. Being clear about your strength is important in that in addressing your lid, you do not inadvertently make changes destructive to the very strength of your ministry.

Is it possible your lid and your strength might be the same? In a few instances the answer is yes. The strength of a ministry might be it's very small and personal nature. It might be the great amount of time the College Minister gives to each student individually. It is at this point that the decision needs to be made. Is this the ministry that we want to be? That decision has to be made honestly by each ministry. Some would say genuinely, this is what we are here to do.

Or is the lid the students you are currently reaching? This is a tough issue. I believe God loves all of us personally and uniquely and we don't have to be the "In crowd" to be loved by God and worth of ministry. If your ministry is intentionally to "the forgotten" and that is your calling, bless you and keep on. But, it might be the ministry has developed an unhealthy "our club mentality". The "our club mentality" is the idea that this is exclusively for us or those just like us and so everyone else is "UN-invited". If that is the case, you must decide if you are willing to make changes that may cause you to lose many of students currently reached. That is a painful and slow process. In trying to reach more students....your ministry might decline. Wow!

Some lid adjustments can be fairly quick (such as moving to a larger meeting space) but many are slow and painstaking. In making changes in a ministry,there is always the consideration of timing. When is the right time to make this adjustment. It might be a decision you make now, but the implementation will not come until next summer or fall....or at the start of next semester.

Here is the awkward question: What if YOU are the lid? I don't mean you are incompetent or students don't want to be around you. All of us have students who are attracted to us and students who are not impressed with us. No
one is the all encompassing college ministry magnet. Name the most famous College Minister you know avout and there are those who don't respond to them. But, in considering our lid, we may decide that it calls for a change in how we spend our time. It may not call for a change of schedule or meeting place, etc. It may mean that personally we have not been doing the things that are most productive. We may be spending too much time with too few students. Or, we may not be modeling the very things we are expecting from our students.

A NOTE OF CAUTION: Never make wholesale changes in your ministry without your supervisor or key stake holders being bought in or at least aware of what you are doing and why.

Monday, October 3, 2016

College Ministry Cuts....."Partially Funded" Positions

A State Convention of the Southern Baptist Convention recently announced that three of their full time College Ministry positions (BCM Directors) on three different campuses would become "partially funded" effective January 1st.

In hearing the news, I asked if "partially funded" meant that these positions were to become part-time positions. The one sharing the information said no that this meant they were hoping that persons could continue to serve there full time, but that part of their compensation would have to come from other sources.

What would your response be if your supervisor told you effective January 1 your position is partially funded? It has long been a rant of mine that campus based College Ministers who do not work with alumni should be fired. As finances for ministry in general and College Ministry specifically continues to decline, alums who have experienced the value of campus ministry in general....and your ministry in particular are key!

A campus based College Minister employed by a Baptist Convention in another state told me that he wished the state convention would pay him part of his salary and let him secure the rest. He said he knew the area churches would provide it and then perhaps he could focus on college ministry. He then would not have to do all the non-college ministry duties being required by his supervisors was his reasoning.

One question that has been raised was this move to "partially funded" College Ministry positions a funding issue that affected only the College Ministry area. The answer was that there had been cuts in other areas and it was simply their turn to take some cuts. Financial gifts to this state convention have declined in recent years.

This action raises several questions. Are "partially funded"'positions a wave of the future? This state convention did not make all their college ministry positions partially funded. While I am not familiar with all three campuses affected, I do know that at least one is a large nationally known university. What determined which three would be changed? Some have speculated that the decision was based on the small response on those campuses. Would it have been better to maintain a fully funded position on one of these campuses, such as the large university and go part time on smaller campuses? Should funding be based on the size of the ministry or the size of the campus? Should Baptist entities that face declining finances adopt a model long employed by non-denominational ministries of simply being on "flag-ship" campuses?

What if your supervisor told you today your position will be partially funded as of January 1 and we hope you will stay? Would your alumni or area churches step up and cover the difference? Are you telling your story and maintaining the relationships necessary for that to happen? Is your ministry being what it should be or are you simply putting in your time? If that is so, I am sorry to tell you that those days are ending.

I sincerely hope this is not a gloom and doom message for you....but a reminder that we must be working with alumni and making sure that our churches and other interested parties know our story.

Yes; my next Blog will likely be on working with alumni.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What's the Lid for Your College Ministry?

A lid is defined as, "a removable or hinged cover for closing the opening...". The lid for a ministry is where it just will not reach more students or grow further. The lid is closed. All ministries have a lid. Your ministry may not have reached it's lid yet or you may be comfortable with your lid. Or, you may have come to the point of saying, "Why are we not reaching or keeping more students involved with our ministry?".

If you are in that last category, have you identified your lid? Think about it; what is the lid that has the opening of your ministry closed tight at a certain point? What determines your lid?

Here are some common lids:

This is likely the most common lid. You simply have grown to the max that your meeting space will hold or that your students are willing to crowd any further.

You already are using all the creativity you have to keep going on your limited budget. You just can't afford to feed any more. Or, you can't afford to do mail outs. Maybe you can't afford an administrative assistant to do tasks that keep you from having time to connect with students or meet with your leaders one on one.

Most really large campus based ministries have really large staffs (10-20). Large church based ministries tend to offset that some by some of what churches can provide in other ways. Students need to talk to someone. Who does the individual discipleship? Who does the crisis counseling? Who is meeting with and developing multiple student leaders?

Vision or lack of vision is a lid. Are you just happy with the number you are reaching? Or are your student leaders happy with where the ministry is? Or, has it even occurred to them to think bigger? All they know is what they have seen.

There are only X number of Discipleship Groups. They can only hold a certain number. Or, there are only X amount of places for leaders and therefore other potential student leaders leave the ministry to look for other opportunities. Is your current organization structure forming your lid?

What other ministries do can affect what you are able to do. You may suffer by comparison or another may foul the waters for everyone. This is possibly the toughest one to address.

So, what is the point? If we have reached our lid and we can identify the lid, we may be able to do something about it. Do you need to focus on raising your budget? If you raised your budget, could you hire additional ministry people or admin help that would free you to do other things? Should you experiment with meeting somewhere else? Should you add another Discipleship Group or two? Or, should a new D Group meet at a different time? If comparison to another booming ministry is hurting you, have you identified what the unique strength of your ministry is and leaned into it?

If the lid is insolvable, is there a detour around it? Could changing or improving something else minimize the effect of the lid?

The hardest place to see and understand is often our own situation. Three suggestions:

1. Enlist three or four ministry people you trust apart from your ministry to analyze and brainstorm with you. They need some distance to see things from a different perspective. Could they give you a full or half day at some point?

2. Take two or three days totally away from all of it by yourself to think, pray, and consider options and solutions.

3. Take 5 or more than 10 students away for a full day of thinking, praying and brainstorming. The group needs to be big enough to see and think different ideas, but small enough that it doesn't take forever to talk about something. They also can't be shy or reluctant to speak up.

What's your ministry lid? Have you addressed it? Or, have you helped others to see what the lid is?

The first step is to honestly identify your lid.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Some years ago I had a student leader who when he spoke he would often say something was "really, really true". I would tease him and ask, "Is really really true more true than something being just true?". I recently heard myself saying something was REALLY REALLY true.....that really really true fact is the number one reason students come to a Christian event the first time is a personal invitation.

I continue to believe in promotion, publicity, etc, but have renewed my belief in the reality of personal invitations being a huge key. I have recently been a volunteer assisting my church's College Minister in some of our start of school enlistment events. We have done some really first class events. We spent a significant portion of our fall budget. The simple result has been, regardless of the event and promotion, those best attended were the result of personal invitations.

A friend who leads a large ministry shared with me recntly that his students now seem to be more comfortable inviting and bringing new students to their small groups first rather than to their weekly large group event. That is totally contrary to what has been true for them previously and in all of my experience. He doesn't know quite why. But, we do know that it is REALLY REALLY true that the personal invitation is key.


Friday, September 23, 2016

What Do You Do When You Have Done ALL You Know to Do?

A friend called recently who serves on what might be one of the top 10 toughest campuses for Christian College Ministry. He has been there a few years, begun to understand the culture and how to work in the midst of it. He has seen positive response and growth in students' lives and in the numerical size of the ministry. This first month of school he has done those things that have worked so well the last couple of years.....with very little response.

What do you do when you have done all you know how to do.....and it does not bring the success, attendance, gospel conversations, salvations to which you are accustomed? Some years ago, I was lamenting about one of those such falls to my wife. She said something simple that helped me grasp reality....a little. "Every year cannot be bigger and better than the previous just isn't possible."

So, what do you do when you have done all you know to do?

1. Be faithful. Keep on!
Trust the Lord. Keep doing what God has called you to do. It does not mean the Bible is no longer true. It does not mean God's Spirit has left. Keep being faithful and serving where God has called you.

2. Focus on who and what you have.
Do you have more time available? Invest it in those students who continue to be active in your ministry. Connect with administrative people who have an effect on your ministry.

3. Don't fuss at those students who have responded.
Most of us who have been active in church for some years have had the experience of having the preacher fuss at those of us present for those not present. Be careful to not cast a negative gloom over the ministry due to your disappointment and frustration. It can have a negative impact on the spirit of the ministry.

4. Is a different door opening to you?
Be alert to the possibility that a new ministry option or opportunity on that campus may present itself. We can miss it, if we are all doom and gloom and stubborn in fighting with the circumstances. "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.". Psalm 118:24

My friend said he called to get my "wisdom". This is the "wisdom" I shared, "Some years are just like that..they just are.".

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's Hard to Draw a Crowd on a College Campus!

It's not unusual to hear someone complain that some college ministry is not having as large of a crowd as they should. Usually, those voicing the concern have never done College Ministry.

Recently, Sue and I attended an event on campus to hear a speaker the University was hosting. The speaker was nationally recognized in his field, had published at least one book. His appearance had been publicized on campus and we had read about it in our local newspaper. The article had stated that the event was open to the public. Sue was interested in his topic and I am always interested to hear "professional speakers" to see what I can learn from a speaker's perspective.

I have confessed in previous writings that I am "a counter". I not only count at my own events, I often count at other events. So, at this highly advertised event, I counted. There were thirty-five (35) people there to hear this nationally recognized expert at a well advertised event.....35....thirty-five.....35! I would imagine they had paid him several hundred dollars. It is a reminder that the amount of money spent and good publicity don't insure a large response. I am reminded again that the number one reason that students surveyed said they attended a Christian event for the first time was...a personal invitation.

Having a crowd on a college campus is hard.....and....getting harder. I had my own first experience recently when NO ONE showed up for a collegiate event for which I was a co-speaker. NO ONE...NO ONE! That was a first for me.

When you are disappointed with your attendance, remember there are high dollar events with small attendance. Keep on!

Monday, September 5, 2016

5 Simple Rules for a Positive Campus Ministry Presence

1. Know the rules and keep the rules.
If the campus says don't put flyers on windshields, don't put flyers on windshields, etc.

2. Know the key holders and make sure they know you.
This can range from janitors to Administrative Assistants to the VP of Student Affairs. Lots of people on campus can help you or block your way. Do they know you and do they know the value of what you are doing? If they know you, they are more likely to help you.

3. Speak no ill of other Campus ministries.
You will not agree with everyone's methods or theology. But, unless they are absolutely a cult doing great damage to students, keep your lip zipped about them. That increases the odds they will do the same about you and it does not feed negative impressions of campus ministry as a whole.

4. Walk through the main Student Center EVERY day.
You will see students who need to see you. You will see key holders and key holders will see you.Students you know will introduce you to other students. You will have a greater sense of what is going on throughout the campus...not just your thing.

5. Go to campus events.
You will see students you know. You can meet students you don't know. Key holders will see you. Especially make a point of going if a key holder invites you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How Many Students Do You Plan to Keep?

If you do College Ministry, you are in the midst of or just finishing your start of school outreach events. If I were to ask you, "How many are you planning on keeping?". Some would say "all" and others would say, "who knows".

If your ministry does lots of different outreach events, there is the obvious realization all of them eill not stick and many will be touched only once. But seriously, how many are you PLANNING to keep? I was talking with a friend about a ministry he is close to. They have in the last couple of years had way more students in their outreach events....but, when the dust settles....they have the same number involved. Are you content with your same old number you have every year?

If you manage to touch more, why don't more stick? There can be lots of answers to that question. But, I believe the simplest answer is, you did not have an organization or structure to keep more. Want to reach more freshmen? Do you just plan to have more in each Freshmen Bible Study OR are there more Freshmen Bible Studies or some that meet at different times and places as previously? What changes the equation?

Are there additional seats at your weekly worship event or are the same old number and your hope is they will fill and overflow? Remember, the 80% rule.

Ok honestly many are you structured to reach and maintain?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 Reasons to Develop Student Leaders for College Ministry

1. When you develop student leaders you multiply your time.
-Students will do tasks that free you to do other things.

2. You reach students that you would not reach.
-Students serious about the Lord and the ministry have contact with students you would never even see once.

3. You increase their growth in relationship to the Lord.
-When students accept and take responsibility in ministry it tends to deepen their desire and need to walk with the Lord.

4. It grows your relationship to them and allows them to see into your life.
-Many of them will never have had a personal relationship to an older adult who walks with the Lord. If you are married, it gives them a look into a (not perfect) but godly marriage. That's something's lots have never seen at their home.

5. It develops and trains people for leadership roles in the church for the years to come.
-Every strong local church has strong lay church has too many. Where else will godly, mature worship leaders, teachers and deacons or elders come from?
25 Tips for Developing College Ministry Leaders
If you are interested in knowing more about working with student leaders, check out my new eBook,25 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING COLLEGE MINISTRY LEADERS on Amazon for 99 cents. It is just the practical every day way to build into the lives of students. You can read it in an hour or just read whatever tips speak to your present need.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Legal Issues for College Ministers

Although none of us in College Ministry like or want to think about it, we must be aware of legal issues that could affect us. Here is a quick view of three legal issues College Ministers must keep in mind. This is a quick summary of information provided by State College Ministry leaders Joe Graham of Georgia and Bruce McGowan of Texas at the Glorieta College Ministers conference. My purpose is to alert you to issues you may need to further consider and investigate. This is in no way a complete view of the issues and I am certainly not an attorney.

1. Travel Issues

Know the difference between "Direct Volunteers" and "Indirect Volunteers".
Your insurance likely distinguishes between them. Direct volunteers are those under your supervision. Indirect are those you send to serve somewhere else. Liability follows the vehicle first. Beware who you hand the keys to.

Vans and Mini-Buses - Most 15 passenger vans assembled before 2012 will NOT pass the "mice type" of a liability policy. Most model years since 2012 will-BUT only if you do not allow passengers to occupy the back seat (effectively turning a 15 passenger van into an 11 passenger). Typically, mini-buses will meet the stipulations. Check your policy to see if trailers are excluded.

2. A BCM in Georgia received a bill for $528 for using a picture on their website they found on the Internet to promote a mission trip. After some back and forth, they did not have to pay in this instance. Be careful what you use! There are programs that search the Internet looking for use of protected images.

3. Child Protection Issues must be considered in instances where your students work with children. Consider having these volunteers go through a "Ministry Safe Certification". One practice is to always have two adults (not of the same family) present. Ministry Safe is a Texas company that specializes in training and information for these type issues.

Monday, August 15, 2016

SBC Collegiate Ministry Figures Released - 2015-2016 School Year

Total Number of BCM Ministries - 860
Total Number of Staff - 975 (696 full time)
Total Number Involved - 86,706
Total Students Impacted - 615,965
Total Number of Students Who Accepted Christ - 3,989
Other Salvations Thru BCM Ministries - 6,643
Total Salvations Thru BCM - 10,632
Total Number of Small Group Bible Studies - 9,472
Total of All Contributions to Missions thru BCM - $6,372,647.24
Total Church Staff with Some Form of Collegiate Ministry Responsibility - 1,063
Churches with Full Time College Only Positions - 270

Other Interesting Figures:

1 in 17 students involved in BCM are preparing for Church Related Vocations.
1 in 5 students involved in BCM are International students.
1 in 19 students involved in BCM served in Summer or Semester Missions.
1 in 9 students served on a short term mission trip.
1 in 2 students in BCM are involved in Discipleship/Small group Bible Study.

Send Mudout Teams or Donate to Help Louisiana Flood Victims Thru BCM

Approximately 35,000 to 40,000 homes have been damaged by the flooding in Louisiana. They need mudout teams to tear out carpet, carry out damaged furniture and rip out sheetrock. Student teams will be housed and fed the weekends of August 19-21, August 26-28, and September 2-4. They would come in on Friday night, work Saturday and Sunday, and leave to go home Sunday afternoon or evening according to your travel distance.

Ways or Places You Can Help Flood Victims in Louisiana:

Lafayette Area:
Contact Joe Wood at or text 337.224.1915 (University of Louisiana, Lafayette).

Contact Steve Masters at or text 225.964.0830

Donations may be sent to:

Collegiate Ministry Department - Flood Relief
P.O. Box 311
Alexandria, Louisiana 71309

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Multiplier Effect in College Ministry?

Roughly defined a multiplier is an expenditure that returns way more than it costs you. For those in College Ministry, we are always looking for something to multiply our time, multiply our resources, and multiply the response, etc.

Without a doubt, the multiplier in College Ministry is the development of student leaders. Student leaders impact students the College Minister could never touch. Student leaders bring gifts to the ministry the College Minister does not have. A wider variety of students can be touched, reached, and involved in a ministry more than any one College Minister could ever do. But, it is an investment of time and intentionality to enlist, develop and pour into student leaders. But, that investment of time multiplies the investment.

Three things we have to do to create this multiplier:

1. Look for students who have potential to lead and challenge them as to how God can use them in the days and years to come.

2. Walk with them and teach them how to lead. Help them process their experiences and learn from them. Help them deal with negative experiences. I do not subscribe to the "sink or swim" theory of leadership training. Too many sink and never come back.

3. Trust them to lead in their areas of leadership. Encourage, guide, but don't micromanage.

Check out my new eBook, "25 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING COLLEGE MINISTRY LEADERS" on Amazon.

Friday, July 29, 2016

7 Tips for Doing Freshmen Ministry

Doing a specialized and intentional Freshmen Ministry is the single best way to reach more students and impact more students for Christian faith.


1. Freshmen are more available than any other group of students on your campus.

2. Many students shipwreck their lives during their freshman year.


1. Freshmen are looking for friends and fun. They go where the potential is for friends and fun.

2. Freshmen develop their friendships and habits during the first three weeks. College Ministries must make the most of those first three weeks.

3. Seven of ten freshmen do not connect to any spiritual group at college even though they were active in their church as a high school senior.

4. Some Freshmen violate their personal moral code early in the year and this guilt helps push them away from their faith.

5. Many Freshmen will have doubts raised due to questions asked by new friends or professors in class.

6. Freshmen are overwhelmed managing their life and adjustment. Your ministry can offer practical help.

7. Freshmen must understand that doubt and questions are not contrary to healthy faith.

Plan to spend wisely extravagantly for the start of the fall semester for events that will connect with freshmen.

Individual follow-up is key. Make it a goal for someone to have an individual connection with a freshman within 24 hours of attending one of your events,

Train your upper class students to invite, bring and welcome new students. The number one reason students say they attended a Christian event the first time was that someone invited them.

Present the gospel to students who have never heard it.

Don't over announce. The more you announce, the less students hear and remember.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My View of the Current State of SBC College Ministry

I was recently asked to give an informal talk to a group of College Ministers about "The Current State of SBC Collegiate Ministry (Local, State, and National)". I asked for input from others and received several messages with their thoughts. But, in the end these are my thoughts and are in no way any official or approved statement by anyone.

I. State Wide Campus Based (BCM, BSU, BSM) organizations are more different than they have ever been.
1. No longer does every state convention have a State BCM Office and campus based people.
2. BCM Directors have a wider variety of responsibilities than ever before.
-One Campus Minister for a large major campus told me he is now on campus 3 days a week and traveling and
working with churches 2 days a week.
3. State Convention infrastructure has changed drastically in the last 10 years. As one has said, "The cuts in
BCM are collateral damage."
4. One Convention College Ministry leader said, "We are adjusting to new paradigms and new models. We are
working with both campus based and campus church plants.

II. There is greater awareness of and commitment to the value of church based College Ministry.
1. This is partly the result of some large church ministries being publicized.
2. It also relates to the discussion of campus church plants.

III. There is more sense of "competition" between different styles of College Ministry than ever before.
1. Campus based vs Church based
2. Campus based or Church based vs Campus Church Plant
3. This is partly related to some who have espoused "my way is the only way" rhetoric.
4. The cuts in budgets is making everyone have to make their case and tout their ministry louder.

IV. There is more stress on College Minister families than in a long time.
1. The loss of insurance for families in many Convention positions has added financial stress.
2. Added duties makes for more time away from home.
3. There is an added feeling of uncertainty about the future.

V. The influence of less experienced College Ministers is growing due to tech savvy and involvement while the influence of older and more experienced College Ministers is declining due to less tech savvy and social media involvement.
1. One has described some young guys as "Beasts of social media". Do they tweet and post in their sleep?
2. I don't regret anyone's involvement and we can learn from all. But, we need to get our older, experienced voices out there.
3. If you are one of these, I challenge you to be more involved in these national conversations. We need your voice and knowledge.

VI. Our national voice is varied.
1. Lifeway is the official office of College Ministry as voted by the Southern Baptist Convention and promotes and works with all different College Ministry models. At one time, there were 15 full time people in the College Ministry office at Lifeway. Now there is one with four part time Contract Workers.
2. The North American Mission Board (NAMB) has been a significant positive and influential figure in College Ministry for many years. Recently, NAMB has chosen to go with the Campus Church Plant model and to advocate it. Some interpret this as Southern Baptists should only support this one model.

VII. We are seeing more positive recognition and promotion of BCM and Collegiate Church Planting at the Southern Baptist Convention and on these levels than in a very long time due to Dr. Frank Page and Ashley Clayton.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Some Things Heard at the Summer College Ministers Fellowship

After three days of listening to some of the best College Ministers (Church and Campus) in the country in both large group and individual conversations, I often had brain overload. One friend said he took fourteen pages of notes and ideas. Here is a small sample...not the biggest or "bestest" just things that struck me for one reason or another.

-A father said his son, a college freshmen, described himself as an "Apatheist"....the word is a combination of atheist and apathy.

-"The Freshmen 15"....the $15 Discount charge for freshmen to attend the Fall Retreat. I love that!

-For a gimmick to be the best, it must be memorable and cheap. So, here was this campus response, they go thru campus apartments to promote their ministry giving away 2 rolls of toilet paper tied together with a ribbon. If they aren't home, they use the ribbon to hang it on their door knob.

Dr. Frank Page, President of the SBC Executive Committee was quoted as saying, "There are three darlings of Southern Baptists: International Missions, Disaster Relief, and Collegiate Ministry".

-Did anybody see where my golf ball went?

-"I did ministry on my first campus by carrying a Bible and a crockpot.". There is a ministry starter formula!

Some Books to use that were mentioned: for girls (Angie Schmidt) for guys
Spiritual Disciplines for a Godly Man, R. Kent Hughes
Life on Mission
Master life.....Still good after 34 years says Keith Cating
Martin Luther's, Letters from a Birmingham jail
Letters To A Birmingham book
The Comparison Trap, Sandra Stanley
Heart of a for athletes
Foundations 260 Plan
The Disciples Path...a six book series

As always, I left feeling that some of God's best serve in College Ministry and that many serve at great personal sacrifice. Their ingenuity and creativity on limited budgets always amazes me. I was challenged to walk closer to the Lord and trust Him more. And besides that, I just laugh a lot!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Encouraging Word from Princeton University

Influencing Influencers has long been a strategy of many who serve in College Ministry. While every college campus and every college student is loved by the Lord, there are some campuses that have national influence in different ways. I was struck a few years back when I read that more Secretaries of State of the United States had graduated from Princeton University than any other school in America.

David Buschman is Baptist Campus Minister at Princeton University. A few years back due to a change in funding he lost his salary that had been provided by Southern Baptists. But, he and his wife Lynn felt led to stay there. They had invested some years in gaining credibility and felt more doors would open, if they stayed. So, Buschman is one of those College Ministers who raises his salary and he continues to be an Influencer of Influencers.

Here are a few excerpts from his Spring Report in his words that will encourage you about the ministry on this nationally strategic campus.

-An especially strong class of guys comprised my senior Bible....4 Baseballers, 6 Wrestlers, 1 Rhodes Scholar, and 2 others. What a treasure to be able to speak into their lives and learn along side them. A true joy.

-I became a faculty-fellow for the swimming and diving team.

-After 3 years of prayer and efforts, a study for coaches that I've been trying to launch finally emerged...nice mixture of head and assistant coaches, interns and staffers, both men and women. A true answer to prayer and an uplifting group.

-In the absence of a retired Dean, I singularly led the weekly Hour of Power Christian worship service for staff workers each Wednesday throughout the year. I felt really good about the nature of this gathering and my role in it.

-At noon on Good Friday I spoke on the 2nd word from the cross ("Today you will be with me in paradise") at the official Good Friday Observance in PU chapel. Then at night, I was the featured speaker for the inter-fellowship coalition of Christian groups a filled Richardson auditorium in Alexander Hall. I was honored to be asked and felt empowered by God's Spirit as I pointed to the cross.

David Buschman is an example of many today who are raising their own salaries to continue to be where God has planted them. I hope you are as encouraged and challenged by this report as I am.

God is moving on college campuses throughout the country influencing future Influencers. Pray for and encourage those who are serving in many sacrificial ways. If you lead a church or campus based ministry, you might consider adopting a campus such as Princeton to be a prayer partner and encourager.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Leaves Are Turning and Homecoming is in the Air.....What??

Football is big where I come from and even when we had a sorry football team, we still had a good crowd at Homecoming. If you have read my stuff, you know I am a big advocate of working with alumni. There are lots of good reasons:
-You can still be a spiritual mentor or encourager in their life.
-In these days of significant cutbacks those who have experienced God's working in their life through a College Ministry can be a powerful voice and advocate for College Ministry in their church, area or state churches, and denomination.
-Most larger campus based College Ministries could not do all they do without alumni financial support.

Usually, only campus based College Ministers think in terms of working with alums, but I believe a strong case can be made for church based College Ministers to do some alumni work.

Homecoming is an easy and almost automatic time to have some sort of alumni gathering. And, NOW is the time to make the plan and start passing the word. Churches can recognize alums in their Sunday service. It won't hurt in the least for a large crowd of former students to be recognized that were touched by the College Ministry. You could host a Drop-In for them before or after the service....a brunch is always appropriate.

Is a student who is active in your ministry on the Homecoming Court or playing in the game? What if they were to give a testimony on Sunday after the game?

If you are a campus based College Minister, here are some different ideas:
-Pick a place and publicize where your alum group will gather to watch the parade.
-Have an informal lunch at your Center prior to the game. If you are raising your salary, what about a Vision Lunch at that time?
-Host a Drop-In prior to or following the game.
-Have a Missions Fund Raising Cookout selling tickets to alums and friends. Yes; I have lit Barbecue fires at 3:00 a.m. on Homecoming game day!

2 Huge Things That Make a Difference:

1. Announce and promote it NOW so alums can get it on their calendar.

2. We have found the most significant thing about an Alumni event in determining who is coming is....."Will I see people I know and would love to see?

Ever go to a Homecoming event and there was no one there you knew? I have and it didnt make me want to go back. So, enlist hosts from different eras or decades who will commit to be there. You know some peole everyone wants to see . It may be former students or it could be former staffers that were loved by all. If you announce who is going to be there as hosts, it often will significantly increase your crowd. AND, people are more likely to be glad they came. Where possible enlist multiple hosts from the different eras you want represented, so if someone has to cancel, there are still familiar faces from that era.

Do you do an Alumni Newsletter? Will there be a brief Info Sheet available that they can share some news for the next edition? Will you make some pictures that could be in the next Alumni Edition that will make those that didn't come realize they will want to come next year?

I know Campus Based College Ministers who get checks for $500, $5,000, $10,000 and yes....even $100,000 from alums! Are alums aware of what you are doing? Is your ministry even on their radar?

I will repeat one of my outrageous statements: If you don't work with alumni, you should be fired!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The 50 Darkest College Campuses?

It was my privilege to meet last week with about forty men and women who serve in various aspects of College Ministry for Southern Baptists. We all serve on different work teams to advance College Ministry.

I liked every thing that came out of all our meetings. But, the idea that most captivated me is one team's plan to identify "the 50 darkest campuses in North America". By darkest they mean those where there is NO Christian witness and there is no nearby evangelical church with any ministry to the campus. A factor in determining these fifty will be other words, how many students are there.

When these fifty campuses are identified, then it is the plan and goal to encourage and help Ministries of whatever shape or plan to establish there. Wow! What a goal....what an undertaking. There has been talk recently of trying to encourage College Church Plants on the 50 largest campuses in America. As you might guess, there are names on that list you will recognize...some of America's best known Universities. But, many of them already have multiple ministries there. True, there are always more students that can be reached. But, I am captivated by the idea of going where no one has gone! By the way, if you google the 50 Largest College Campuses, number two is Liberty University (due to their large Internet enrollment).

What can all of us do?

1. Pray
2. Spread the word that we need help identifying these campuses. Do you have a nomination? Can you contact a friend who might?
3. Plan now to possibly adopt one of these 50 Darkest Campuses. You could send a team there for Spring Break. You could send a monetary gift to others who might go.
4. God might begin to place it on your heart to go to one of these campuses.

But, right now we just need help knowing who they are. If you have a thought or nomination, you can send it to me and I will pass it on. #50orbust!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Seven Dumbest Mistakes I've Made in College Ministry

Some years ago I did a little book entitled "The 10 Dumbest Mistakes College Ministers Make". In it, I tried to address common mistakes. One friend even said he thought he could pick a chapter that was written about him. Another suggested that each chapter of that book could have begun with a picture of a Campus Minister who was a perpetrator. But, the best comment was the one who said, "Finally Arliss is writing about something he knows about....dumb mistakes!".

Recently I began to think what are the dumbest mistakes I have made in College this point. It is quite humbling to look back and try to list your failures and mistakes. Confession is good for the soul. But, I am sharing mine so that maybe you won't make the same ones. Here goes....

1. I hired an Associate based on a resume but sensed there was no personal chemistry.

It has long been my belief that we should always try to hire the best. A resume came to me that was a dream resume. This person looked like the All American of College Ministry. This person's list of references was a Who's Who of College Ministry. After running references, I invited the person for an interview. We did not click chemistry wise. But, I felt it would be wrong on my part to not hire this All-Star of College Ministry. I felt I needed to put my personal preferences aside and do what was best for the ministry. I did and it was an epic failure. I learned that someone can be supremely talented and qualified to do a job and not be the right person for a particular position. It not only did not was painful.

2. I hired someone because everyone knows that, "Anybody is better than nobody.".

That is a false statement. I hired an Assistant one time who was not up to the standards of the previous ones who had served in our Assistant roles. But, this person was the only one who was available and desperately wanted the job. Here is why "Anybody is better than nobody." is false. When there is nobody, you know you must do it or it won't be done. When there is somebody there, you are assuming that what had to be done was done. It takes more time to clean up someone else's mess than it often does to do it yourself.....with far less ramifications.

3. Not giving student leaders from a previous philosophy the opportunity to step away.

Many years ago I went to a position where the previous leader had a different philosophy than mine. I inherited
the Student Leadership Team the previous leader had selected. It was the most emotionally painful year
of my life....including my year in Vietnam. I realized after that painful year that I should have laid out my vision and my philosophy and said now anyone can walk away with no hard feelings. But, if you stay, this is where we are pointed. I feel I did a disservice to them, not just to the ministry and my own ground off teeth.

4. Using guys who were not prepared to lead Freshmen Discipleship groups.

I have long believed we need to reverse the trend of guys not being willing to serve. I have worked at developing guys. In selecting students to lead our freshmen groups, I wanted to put up both guys and girls who were great Christian role models for freshmen. We had plenty of strong girls, but we were short on strong guys. So, I put some guys there who were not prepared to be there. It was a mistake. Develop guys but don't put them in a role just because they are a guy.

5. Not taking all my vacation days.

After a period of years I began to accumulate a lot of vacation days, but I never felt I could be gone all those days. It was a combination of dates I felt I had to be on campus and just the never ending things that need doing. I cheated my wife, my girls, and myself.

6. Going with talent over proven commitment.

I've written previously about selecting a Freshmen girl to our singing group who was an incredibly talented singer over an upperclass girl. The upperclass girl had served the year before and had done well in every way. She wanted to return, but we went with the incredible talent. Within a month, the freshman girl had walked away and so had the upperclass girl. Talent never trumps character and commitment!

7. Talking students into taking leadership roles.

I learned that that when you talk them into it, you will have to continue talking them into it and.....they often quit and walk away at the worst possible time. Again, I learned "Anybody is NOT better than nobody.".

I am sure this list just begins to crack the surface of my dumbest mistakes and I may need to do a whole series on it. But, I may even try to list some things I did right. What were your dumbest mistakes and have you learned from them?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Do All Your Students Look and Think Alike?

I am on record many times in saying we should reach a wide variety of students. I've written about having pretty people in your ministry, but not being just a ministry for pretty people. In all of the political talk of the season and the discussions of the most recent gun violence, I continue to be struck by our lack of constructive conversations by people who disagree....and even more....the lack of common respect for one another.

I suffer from the terminal belief that Christian College Ministry is the cure for ALL the World's ills.

So, does your ministry have a wide variety of people connected to it? Do they represent some different understandings? Some years ago in working with our Freshmen Leadership Team, there started a negative discussion from some toward the political party one of the girls whose uncle was a prominent legislator in our state. I made a clear Point that we could disagree, but we would not do put-downs of each other related to political differences. Both groups heard me and stayed connected to our ministry.

Many years ago a girl in our ministry, who later that year became Miss Arkansas, was being put down by her roommate for not sharing identical views about one aspect of Christian doctrine. My student was made to feel she was a loser. I would say you likely are not "a loser" if you win the Miss Congeniality award in the Miss America Pageant.

Differences matter. But, respect matters too.

Someone said, "I'm too old to just listen to and read people I agree with all the time.". Are you working at creating a culture that students that come to your ministry are not all just alike? We all tend to attract folks similar to ourselves and best relate to those similar to ourselves. So, reaching and connecting with others has to be intentional. That is the struggle we see in the New Testament where Paul is advancing the idea that the Gospel is not just for the Jews.

Our ministries must reach a variety of students and we must teach them to deal with each other with respect. Then, who knows, some of them may become political leaders who will not only share Christ with others....but...they will treat even those with whom they disagree with crazy!

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It's the Wedding Season......Thoughts on Weddings

If you do College Ministry, you relate to weddings. A College Minister friend of mine did not do weddings, but he attempted to go to all the weddings that involved his students. He often went to two a day and was known to have made three in one day. A lady College Minister friend of mine said she was often asked to be a bridesmaid which involved buying a dress "that you will be able to wear other times". I have done about 50 weddings which would not even compare to guys like Roger Bear at Indiana State. I think he is in the triple digits. I did one each of the past two weekends of former students who had been in our ministry. A couple of years ago I told Sue, "This is my last student wedding.". At the reception two former students asked me to do their wedding.

One fascinating thing for me to see is how weddings have changed and evolved through the years.

Receptions are more elaborate than they have ever been. Many years ago when we got married, you served cake, punch, nuts and mints at a reception in the church basement. Now many receptions involve a meal and a band (or at least a DJ)at a different location. My favorite was at the Zoo.

The pictures and the reception have become the main event. In many cases I don't think this is intentional, but it is a reality. A recent wedding I did had a professional Event Planner/Coordinator. She does all kinds and sorts...not just those from a strong Christian background like I do. I asked her what trends she saw. She said, "The bride wants the ceremony to be no longer than 15 minutes, so they can get to the reception and the alcohol.". She told of one wedding where the groom was so drunk he did not know which one was the bride.

I often ask the photographers what's the funniest thing they have seen. I have considered writing a book just telling funny stories from weddings and funerals. My dad who was a photographer once did a wedding where the groom fainted three different times. The first two times they sat him down on the front row. The third time they took him outside for fresh air and then brought him back to finish. I adopted the rule if anyone soon as they can stand back up, I will pronounce them husband and wife!

Most funny stories revolve around young children. One told of the Ring Bearer throwing the cushion he was carrying across the room and running out a side door. I always tell couples it is fine to have young children, just enjoy whatever they do.

After I attended a student wedding where everyone including the minister danced down the aisle, I started asking, "What type of wedding do you have in mind?". Me dancing down an aisle would not be a service of celebration!

One friend tells of doing a wedding where a dog came down the aisle with the rings attached to his collar.

A pastor friend told of a bride beginning to spit up as he was speaking. I asked what he did. He said, "I said let us pray and determined I would pray till she was done.". He said at the end of the ceremony he considered asking if the groom would like to "give the bride a little peck on the cheek".

One groom realized his pants were unzipped as soon as he step up beside me and leaned over and said, "Will you say a prayer so I can zip my pants up?".

One young woman I had known many years ago called and asked if I would do her wedding, but not read scripture or mention Jesus' name as that would be offensive to her groom. But, she wanted to have a church wedding. I didn't do that ceremony. That ceremony would have taken about thirty seconds for me.

Recently, the sound man at a wedding told me that his church keeps raising the price to have a wedding trying to get out of the wedding business. I understand that due to all that goes with getting the church then set up after
a Saturday wedding for Sunday morning. But, I don't want weddings to go away from being Christian and spiritual events. I would even lean the other way. What can we do to help a couple who wants to get married at our church begin a Christian marriage? Can we require pre-marital counseling? I think at the least we must take seriously our responsibility in working with couples multiple times prior to performing their ceremony. I have made a few exceptions to that rule, but not many. I ask couples to read SAVING YOUR MARRIAGE BEFORE IT STARTS by Les and Leslie Parrott. Fortunately, the couples I work with want a specifically spiritual ceremony.

Instead of saying how can we get out of the wedding business, maybe as Christians and churches we need to start saying, "Let's get back into the wedding business in a serious way!".

Some day maybe I will write about all the conversations I've had with Aunt Ethel at the Rehearsal Dinner.