Monday, February 29, 2016

More Books for College Ministers

Most ministries have to rely on volunteers/leaders to make ministry happen. This book addresses some obvious characteristics of great volunteers/leaders, but puts it in a new vocabulary. It served as a good reminder about what to look for in recruiting volunteers and how to retain your best. I'm reminded that in our curent culture asking someone to serve consistently week in and week out is NOT NORMAL.
Tim Stewart, First Baptist, Jonesboro

If you're a pastor, campus minister, or part-time ministry leader, you need to read this book. Paul Tripp exposes a lot of stuff that we pastors secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) deal with. How do you endure in ministry? How do you guard your heart?
Austin Wadlow, First Baptist, Denton

This is on my "everyone should read" list! The way Michael weaves the story of Joshua and their family with the truths of scripture is wonderful. If you really dig into this book, you will start to see biblical narratives come alive in your life and see how they weave into your own faith story.

The story of Ordinary leaving the land of Familiar to pursue the dream the Dream Giver has given him is one for all stages of life. We each have a dream that we must choose to follow yet in the process we will encounter difficulties and distractions. This allegory helps the dreamer keep dreaming and pursuing what God has placed in their heart.
Beth Masters, Mississippi College/New Orleans Seminary

7 PRACTICES OF EFFECTIVE MINISTRY by Andy Stanley/Reggie Joiner/Lane Jones
I love lists that tell you how to do or not do something. When I originally read this book, it helped me clarify some of my core beliefs about the most practical ways to do ministry. Although one of their Seven is not "Play to your strengths," it was one of my summary take aways.

There will be more lists of book recommendations for College Ministers coming in the future. So, I would love for lots of you to send me your book recommendation.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Books for College Ministers Recommended by College Ministers

When I first started as a College Minister, I had a pastor who read at least one book a week. Two or three times a year I would ask him, "What's the best book you have read lately?". Then, I would read that one. I was on a panel once where we were asked about books we had read and a very successful College Minister said his wife read books and told him about them. So, short of my reading books and telling you about them, here are best recommendations from others who do College Ministry. It is my intent to post some book recommendations periodically and who suggests it along with their brief word about it.

This book has impacted me more than any other book. Vertical Church challenges everything we do in church.

This book addressed all of the main questions and objections that people have towards the topic of homosexuality.
Every answer DeYoung gives is immersed in scripture. It is also written with a healthy balance of grace and truth.
Austin Wadlow, First Baptist, Denton

THE FUEL AND THE FLAME by Steve Shadrach
We used it as a handbook when starting our ministry at Chico State and have watched God work in powerful ways on our Campus. As a result of Steve's diverse network and experiences in college ministry, the book includes best practices from major college ministry networks.
Paul Worcester, Christian Challenge, Chico State

THE MILLENIALS by Thom and Jess Rainer
They interviewed 1200 young adults about core values and doctrines of the Christian faith. This book is, in my opinion, one of the most valuable resources available to those who work with college and young adult ministries.
Kelvin Richardson, MBSF, Arkadelphia

I ONCE WAS LOST by Everts and Schaupp
I love this book since it gives us handles for walking with a student who is investigating and considering Christ.
It has reshaped the way I see evangelism and discipleship working hand-in-hand.

We must be able to exegete our campus and culture in order to more effectively reach students. Breaking the Missional Code gives us those tools and filters to think like missionaries and reach our campus.
Beth Masters, Mississippi College/New Orleans Seminary

Monday, February 22, 2016

Church College Minister Sought

First Baptist Church of College Station, Texas is seeking resumes for a full time College Minister. This church ministers to the campuses of Texas A&M University and Blinn College. This person also will give leadership to their GAP (Grad And Professionals) ministry.

It is their intent that their ministry to University students be integrated into the church as a whole and not separate. Minimum requirements are a Bachelors Degree and five years experience. The deadline for applications to be received is April 4th. A complete job description is posted at their website, Resumes or recommendations can be sent to

Friday, February 19, 2016

Characteristics of New and Younger College Ministers

I was in a meeting recently where we discussed the changing landscape of College Ministry. One of the things we talked about was how College Ministers were having to cope with increased demands, declining budgets in some areas and just different thoughts of younger College Ministers. As we discussed it, there were different thoughts that ccame to mind. Some are ones that younger College Ministers may automatically have and some are characteristics they are expected to have or just must have to thrive.

1. One old College Ministry pro said, "They must think like missionaries to a foreign country.".

2. Younger College Ministers are skeptical and reluctant about denominational structure and oversight. There is the fear that this impedes creativity and function.

3. Today's College Minister (regardless of age and experience) must be more entrepreneurial. This is sometimes what runs afoul of denominational structure and oversight.

4. Today's younger College Minister is reluctant to do it "the old fashioned way". This can be good or bad. Some are discarding proven methods and principles just to do something different. Others are finding new ways to reach students as college campuses change.

5. The new College Minister must be willing and comfortable "wearing different hats" as more varied responsibilities are being added by sponsoring groups.

6. The new College Minister must be willing to accept the responsibility and become proficient at raising funds....both for budgets, salaries and buildings. The money is there. It just doesn't come like it used to.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Why 400 College Students Became INVOLVED in BCM

Four hundred students who were involved in Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) were asked why they decided to become involved. These are the top 5 reasons they listed. Percentages equal more than 100% due to multiple answers.

1. Friendships 33.8%

2. Sense of Belonging 33.4%

3. Sense of Calling 25.7%

4. Worship 21.8%

5. Denominational Affiliation 3.3%

Note this is a slightly different question from "Why did you attend the first time?". The results of a survey of 1400 students who were asked that question are elsewhere on this blog......and is one of my all-time most read.

These responses remind us again that reaching students or keeping students in your ministry is all about relationships. Students can come to your ministry and even come to Christ and not stick because they don't feel a sense of belonging. We must continually work at developing a healthy community for students to come into.

The figure relating to Denominational Affiliation is not a surprise as we continue to see "Denominational loyalty" decline. Yet, I think for those of us who serve in the south where Baptists are as numerous as mosquitoes, it's not that simple. It's still a plus for many in attending the first time. And, it is a minus for some in deciding to come the first time. That is why many ministries have no denomination in their name....even though thye are sponsored by a particular church or denomination. I think the "Sense of Belonging" includes a wide variety of things and one of those is familiarity with the style of worship and generally the way things are done. Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, Assembly of God, etc, etc do things a little differently from each other. Our style is just there. So, I believe the denominational factor is a part of the "Sense of Belonging". We don't stay where we are not comfortable.

But, the bottom line is......Relationships are key to everything we do!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

10 Thoughts on College Ministry Revitalization

Thom Thornton, College Minister at Vanderbilt, said he was in a meeting the other day when the question was raised, "Are there any materials written on college ministry revitalization?". There has been a great deal written on church revitalization, but I know of nothing related to College Ministry. Others when asked have also come up with zero. Mark Whitt, Southern Baptists College Ministry leader, when asked said he might have to write that book that night instead of going to bed.

Here are 10 thoughts I have. You notice I don't say principles, rules or even ideas. These are thoughts. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I say my thoughts out loud....not even I agree with them. So, let's see.

1. Attempt to build a team of concerned churches to share in this revitalization project.
-They can provide prayer support.
-They can provide volunteers to lead Bible Study Groups, etc. When there are no strong upperclass leaders, it may be necessary to utilize non-students in some roles normally filled by students.
-They can provide some resources such as money or food for special events or Outreach Lunch Programs.
-They may have students in their church who could be an instant plus.

2. Enlist alumni and other interested individuals for support and resources.
-One area of need during a revitalization is continued emotional support for the one leading it. This can be tough and lonely.

3. The leader must be willing and committed to investing long term.
-Three years is the minimum time for a commitment of the leader. It takes three classes that have come in under the current philosophy of ministry to begin going full speed the same direction.

4. Focus on Freshmen.
-I would develop a full force, intentional Freshmen Ministry aimed at freshmen needs, etc.
-Often in a revitalization, upperclassmen who have been in the ministry previously are the biggest opponents of any change or movement toward reaching more students.

5. Build or repair relationships with the college or university administration.
-There are people who can open or close doors for any college ministry.
-Sometimes college administrators have a bad taste from previous relationships with College Ministers. In other situations, they didn't even kmow it existed in the first place.

6. Connect with area youth ministries.
-They will affect your future. If the Youth Ministers or sponsors know and buy into your vision, they can steer students your way.
-Also, we all know that sometimes churches and Youth Ministers steer students away from a ministry. If this is happening, that issue can be addressed and hopefully changed.

7. Focus on doing a few things well.
-The temptation is to immediately try to do all the things that this ministry could or should be.
-There may be some existing things that need to be killed to do this.

8. Develop, build, and invest in student leaders.
-If there are some who are capable and buy into the vision, invest deeply in them for the future as well as the present.

9. Utilize YOUR personal strengths.
-Make sure you or whomever the leader is does what it is they do best. This ties to #7. Sometimes in trying to do everything at once, the leader is not utilizing their strengths to the max.

10. Develop and pursue a strategy to let the campus as a whole know the ministry is there and what it is.
-This is to address the issue of the campus not even knowing the ministry exists.
-But truthfully, in a revitalization it is often to let the campus know the ministry "ain't what it used to be."
-Much worse than a campus not knowing the ministry is there is an awareness of a ministry that went wrong and no one wants to be associated with it.

What are your thoughts on College Ministry Revitalization? Some of you have done it. Some of you are in the middle of the pains of doing it now. My first year on my previous campus was harder than my year in the war in Vietnam.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Silent Issue in College Ministry

The "silent issue" that is affecting College Ministry is salaries. The majority of my movement and contacts are within the Southern Baptist World. Yet, I imagine with the decline in giving generally, this is not just an SBC issue. In Southern Baptist life there have been a variety of staff cuts that some say have been proportionate in College Ministry. Others feel that College Ministry has experienced deeper cuts than the whole. There are two issues here. While these cuts have meant the loss of positions, it is even more quietly affecting salaries for those positions being maintained. That in turn is affecting the experience, if not the quality, of those serving in College Ministry positions.

One of the things we know is that most of the larger, more stable College Ministries are led by older, experienced College Ministers. This is due to a variety of reasons. But, today as we see many younger College Ministers moving to other areas of ministry, will there be the wise old pros to lead and grow larger ministries in the years to come? Will there be the quality of mentors for younger College Ministers that is needed?

An issue that has made salaries a more sensitive issue has been insurance or the lack there of. Where many Denominational College ministers formally received insurance for them and all of their family, now that is often just provided for the employee. This is becoming true universally. However, the rub comes when the College Minister's salary was low in the beginning. One young ministry wife (not a College Minister wife) illustrated the issue on Facebook recently when she posted her frustration with their family paying $600 per month for insurance for their children and her. Taking $7,200 annually out of a meager salary is a blow to a family. Also, due to salary being low, some are putting little into retirement funds.

Some argue that the answer is for College Ministers to raise their own salaries. Yet, within Southern Baptist life there is disagreement over this. Others are concerned that this will hurt Baptists overall plan of unified giving. But, a few are experimenting with the idea of providing a salary for a Lead Campus Minister and developing a multiple staff of young "Intern types" who raise their own salaries and serve for one or two years under the Lead Campus Minister. It will be a while before we see how this concept develops and if it will be widely accepted.

It has been my experience that for some reason Non-denominational College Ministers seem to fare better at raising their own salaries than those tied to a denomination. I am aware of two established Baptist ministries with Centers on or near campus who have been looking for a College Minister who would succeed the current ones and raise their own salaries. But, so far the result is zero.

The salary issue also plays out with some significant differences between what campus based and church based are paid. Church based tend to be paid more than campus based. Yet, in Southern Baptist life the campus based College Minister is expected to be a leader among all Baptists doing College Ministry for that campus. But, he or she may be the younger, more inexperienced one. One College Ministry leader when asked why he was hiring so many with no experience, he said that was all he could afford.

One bright, very successful young College Minister who moved to a different ministry position said his frustration was no matter how well he did, the salary was always the same. He indicated it was not about the money but just a sense of lack of appreciation. We all want to feel that our efforts are appreciated.

So, what's the bottom line? What's the answer? We must begin to have a very open discussion about College Ministry salaries (and insurance/benefits) and how to have multiple staff. It is disingenuous to talk about our concern about losing the twenty something generation to the church and not be talking about how to have the best people we can have working in College Ministry. Experience counts in everything. If those with experience cannot afford to stay in College Ministry, then reaching the twenty something generation is not a priority for us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Two Books I Like

I am not as much of a reader as I think I should be. Here are two books I would recommend that I have just finished or am in the middle of that I like very much. They are not "religious books" as such. But, I believe they have great applicability to College Ministry. All of us in College Ministry speak to large groups and/or lead group meetings. I am always about how can I be a better speaker, connect better to audiences and lead more effective group meetings. These two books speak to those abilities.

PRESENCE by Amy Cuddy

Cuddy is a Harvard professor who had a brain injury while in college that affected her abilities and self confidence that she had to learn all over. She is a Social Psychologist who is famous for her TED Talk. Hint: You can watch the TED Talk on YouTube and have the summary of the book or to decide, if you want to buy the book.
Cuddy points to her own research and the research of others that says contrary to our assumptions, our body movements affect our sense of inner presence and therefore our outward presence and presentations. She says, "We don't sing because we are happy; we are happy because we sing.". Simply put, she says we can do things physically ("power posing") that will affect our inner senses that will help us perform better. It is fascinating stuff.

TALK LIKE TED by Carmine Gallo

I got onto this book as it was listed as a book that many who bought Cuddy's book also bought. The subtitle is "The 9 Public Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds". Gallo has analyzed the most popular TED Talks (some viewed more than one million times) and uses them as the examples of each of these traits or "Secrets" of these powerful presentations. For example, one of the 9 Secrets is "Stories" and how they connect to people. But, he goes further and quotes the research done by those who have done brain scans that demonstrate how the brain reacts and connects to stories as they are being told. You will not be surprised by some of the "secrets" but you will understand them much better.

What books do you like that have helped you do what you do better and more effectively?


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Collegiate Day of Prayer - February 25th/Adopt a Campus!

The Collegiate Day of Prayer, February 25th, is an attempt to get all of the 4,706 colleges in America "adopted" that someone would pray for them on that day.

You can go to their website ( and adopt a specific campus and see if your campus has been adopted. Last year 1500 campuses were adopted. At this point, just over 300 campuses have been adopted for this year. There is a promotional video and other materials available.

As you teach your students to pray, wouldn't it be great for them to pray for campuses. Wouldn't it be great to know your campus is being prayed for on that day.