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Monday, January 21, 2019

Talking to College Students About the P Word

We talk about the M word (marriage).  We talk about not using the F word.  But, I am afraid we are not doing what we need to do in talking about the P Word.  The P word is Politics.

I have written at different times encouraging College Ministers and other ministry types to stop making divisive political comments on social media.  I have a personal rule to not make political comments......I break that rule about twice a year.  Many College Ministers have been told by their supervisors to make NO political comments and to not even click "Like" on political comments on Facebook.  I get all that but here is my concern.

I really believe that Christians should be involved in politics and that voting should be a part of what we do as Christians.  I want Christians to run for office, etc.  I have written previously about the super well known Christian speaker who spoke out about the personal immorality of a well known political leader.  That speaker now draws smaller crowds and speaks in smaller settings.  Who knew speaking against immorality would be a problem for other Christians.

Each year some students ask me to speak on "Christians and Politics".  They have a wide variety of questions and views.  Some have said they do not vote because they see it all as dirty.  Others see Christians selling out the Gospel for political gain or that the end justifies the means.  And still others ask if one political party is really the party that all Christians should belong to.

Here are some of my thoughts and what I say to students when I speak or in an individual setting on this topic.

-I believe Christians should vote...."Render unto Caesar".
-I believe Christians should run for office.....more "rendering".
-I believe all the good or bad people are not in one political party.
-I do not share my specific views on who I do or do not vote for in a large group.  But, I will tell students my specific views if they want to talk to me individually.  Yet, I work at being very supportive of their views even if they are totally opposite mine.  Some of the finest students I have had have well thought out views that are different than mine.  Hooray for them.

Many have told me in certain races they have not voted because it feels like choosing between the "lesser of two evils" and that evil is evil.  My response to that is one of those two people is going to be elected....there is no "None of the Above" option to check.  So, I encourage them to make a decision on one of the choices which will do better or if you will, be less harmful.

I think we must find a line between making dumb political statements and not speaking on political issues at all.  Yet, I am opposed to the idea that pastors should make political endorsements.  I teach a Sunday School class of older adults.  I have someone in my class who has spent the night at the White House when President Clinton was in office.  I have others in my class who have been on tours with Fox News Commentators and others who are active in the Tea Party movement.  I think that is what church is supposed to look like.

So, I encourage you to think....and think wisely.....about talking with your students about politics and their participation in our government system.  I also encourage you to NOT violate any guidelines you have been given by your supervisors.  And, you maybe should not click "Like" on this article.

Arliss Dickerson is the author of five very practical books on College Ministry available in eBook format for 99 Cents each at Amazon.com/dp/B0741DM1CD.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Golden Age of College Ministry?

A couple of years ago I wrote an article entitled "Has the Golden Age of College Ministry Passed?".
In many ways I think it may be more relevant now than then. Don't worry it's not an all gloom and doom article.

You can check it out at my former Blog site. It's at www.arlissdickerson.blogspot.com

Hope your semester is off to a great start!  I've had a good first week.

Arliss

Monday, January 14, 2019

The 4 Laws of Announcements

Announcements are necessary....not a necessary evil.  They become evil when done poorly.  The start of a semester is a key time for announcements.  There is much that needs to be communicated.

1.  Make no more than four announcements.
The more you announce, the less people hear.  If one announcement is THE most important one, make it at a separate time.

2.  The person making the announcements needs to understand the announcements.
All of us have attended Christian events where the person making the announcement obviously did not have a clue what it was about and therefore everyone there was clueless as well.

3.  A first time attendee should be able to understand the announcements.
Often, it seems that the announcements are done in code so that only "the insiders" will understand them which helps newcomers feel even more left out and that they do not belong.

4.  The announcements should not become the main event.
Some in an attempt to make the announcements entertaining or not a negative go overboard with time or videos, etc.  I was at one event where "the announcement team" took twenty minutes doing the announcements.

Arliss Dickerson is the author of five practical books on college ministry available at Amazon.com for 99 cents each in eBook format.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The 2 Most Deadly and Quickest Killers of College Ministries

There are several things that will kill either a campus based or church based college ministry.  Some are slow killers and others can be almost instant.  There are two that are the most deadly and I do not think you can rank one over the other, as they are different.

CONTINUAL TURNOVER OF MINISTERIAL LEADERSHIP

This one can be either instant or slow.  There are many reasons that continual turnover is destructive to the ministry.
-Some students always disappear when there is a change in leadership.  They were drawn to the previous leader and that relationship is no longer there.
-Due to some circumstances in their own life, they are not there when the new leadership takes over and no one misses or re-enlists them.  Or, it seems that no one cares they are not there.
-Often times a new leader brings a completely different philosophy or approach to the ministry and previous students are not comfortable or do not feel they fit the new approach.
-A new leader may attract a different or new set of students and those previously involved feel left out or that they do not fit with the newer students.

So, what do we do with this issue?  The answer is complicated because many things go into causing the problem.  First, frequent turnover often comes due to a lack of emotional support to the College Minister or financial support of the ministry.  The salary may be minimal and people quickly move on just to survive financially.  Or, they feel no one cares but them.  A growing issue is additional duties being added to College Minister job descriptions that make it feel impossible to do what is being asked..

Another factor is that College Ministers must realize that it usually takes three years for a college ministry to begin to operate at full force. Simply put, that is three years of studens coming into the ministry under the same philosophy, expectations, and leadership relationships.  So, a College Minister, when possible, needs to make a long term commitment to that ministry.  That means suffering through the hard building days and not assuming the grass is always greener in a new position.

Outside the College Minister's scope, those who provide the position must see the need for a livable salary that provides for a family and a job description that is do-able and attractive to someone who is called to college ministry.

IMMORAL OR CONTINUAL MISBEHAVIOR BY STUDENT LEADERS

This one can be instant when others become aware of it.  They simply see the ministry as a sham and they want nothing to do with it or don't want others to think that ministry represents who they are.  First, please hear me, this is not a call for continual snooping or spying on leaders to insure their perfection.  They will not be perfect.  But, the issue is when there is a continual pattern of inappropriate behavior by people seen as being leaders.  Be aware, sometimes outsiders have a different or incorrect perception about who the leaders are.

-First, there must be clear expectations communicate to potential leaders of what the standards are.  This can be done in interviews and with a signed covenant.
-When the ministerial leadership becomes aware of inappropriate behavior, those students must be talked with individually....and respectfully....not in a accusatory manner.
-Remember, that are false accusations made and there are one time mistakes made by the finest of students.  This come to the pont where you sometimes accept the word of a student that the accusation or appearance of wrong doing is false or misunderstood by others.  And, sometimes you extend grace and a second chance even when it is as it appeared.

Several years ago, I became aware of continual misbehavior by several students in our ministry.  Some were in key roles and others were not.  But, they were strong identified with our ministry.  I confronted the issue with them and immediately the attendance at our large group meeting dropped by half!  Students who were involved in the inappropriate actions immediately stopped attending....as well friends of theirs disappeared.  I was shell shocked, but felt I had done the right thing.  But, I had not anticipated how heavy the price would be.

Then a crazy thing began to happen.  Attendance at our large group meeting began to grow and went back to where it had been.  First, there were new students coming who had been turned off to our ministry due to the behavior they had seen in several.  That just assumed it had represented our ministry as a whole.  Not only had I not realized what was happening, but had not realized how it was affecting our ministry.  Students on campus know the reputation of your ministry.....even if you do not!  Then, some who had been involved in the misbehavior came back with a new spirit and understanding of Christian actions and responsibilities.

I cannot promise, if you take a moral stand and students leave, that the ministry will quickly grow back.....BUT, I can promise you it is possible.  

If at all possible, commit to the long term of your service in leading a college ministry and be willing to stand up to misbehavior that affects the ministry as a whole.

Arliss Dickerson is the author of five practical books on college ministry available at Amazon.com.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

The Quick Cheat Sheet for Ministry Expansion

A Cheat Sheet is a quick summary of a lot of information.  Here is my Quick Cheat Sheet for a college ministry revitalization.

1.  Look at and as honestly as possible, determine what issues are holding your ministry back.

2.  Listen to and get input from your core students.

3.  Determine if any of "The Ministry Killers" are at work in your ministry.

4.  Decide which of two basic approaches to take.  Is it "Do a complete overhaul and change everything."  or "Tweak some things within your current ministry.".

5.  Establish a starting point...this is FIRST!

6.  Look at the common characteristics of large and growing ministries....what is one that could most quickly move your ministry in a positive direction.

7.  Develop an overall plan.  A written plan or strategy is a plus to making continual progress.  Don't let the everyday tasks keep you from doing the things necessary for the change.

8.  Assess honestly the ministry's healthy or unhealthy "atmosphere".

9.  Be prepared for the push back and personal attack that often goes with change.

10.  Consider slimming down what your ministry offers to beef up the quality of your offerings.

11.  Make an OBVIOUS change or multiple changes that show this is a NEW day.

12.  Invest deeply in a few that can be difference makers.

13.  Clean up the ministry reputation where needed with outsiders.

14.  Understand how other ministries may be having an impact on yours.

15.  Determine how much more or less you need to be the up front face of the ministry.

16.  Begin now to determine your plan for connecting to and reaching freshmen in the fall semester.

Adapted from FIXING A BROKEN COLLEGE MINISTRY, an Amazon.com book by Arliss Dickerson.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Last Call for the Bargain!

Last Call:  The Amazon.com Christmas special on the paperback version of FIXING A BROKEN COLLEGE MINISTRY is winding down.  Cost during the special is $3.99 and it is returning to the regular price of $4.99.