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.


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