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