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!