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Monday, April 6, 2020

9 Questions for College Ministers to Ask About THIS Fall

If we just assume everything will be perfectly normal this fall on campus, I think we make a big mistake.  Hopefully and prayerfully it will be.  But, doing a little "what if" thinking now will be beneficial, if all is not back to normal.

SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

1.  Will there be on campus Summer Orientations for in-coming freshmen?  Many campuses have already announced that summer school will be on line.  This will not be significantly different many places as on-line classes have become a popular way to do summer classes  But, if the campus is shut down, that is a whole other issue.  Will there be on campus "New Student Orientations"?

2.  If your ministry has used the summer as prime time for connecting with new students and those vehicles are not there this summer, how can that vacuum be filled?  Perhaps, now is the time to begin to contact churches in the area to get senior names.  One BCM Campus Minister shared with me that he was making contact with different freshmen whose names he already had and was asking them to invite their friends to do a Zoom meeting with him.  Is this an option for you?

3.  Could upperclassmen who live in different towns and cities invite friends from their church or previous high school to do a Zoom meet up with you?

4. Could the Youth Minister at a church set up a Zoom meeting with you and a group of students going to college this fall?  You could give them some good first couple of weeks advice, ask for names of other friends, etc.  Is now the time to begin to contact churches for a senior list and college plans?

5. Could there be a large group "rally" later in the summer of all these students with some upperclassmen doing testimonies in a Zoom meet up or, a series of such "meetings".

6.  If offerings are down at churches due to unemployment, will that affect the gifts to your ministry from churches?

7.  What can you do to prepare to possibly operate with a leaner budget for the fall?

8.  If you raise your salary, will the economic changes affect your partners and their giving to you?  While this is not a perfect time to be looking for more support, is there a way to prepare or begin to lay the groundwork for that?

9.  If freshmen come to campus this fall carrying the baggage of "no prom", "no graduation"; "no "time to say goodbye to friends", what will that mean in how to reach and work with them?

Keep thinking differently.  Let's not be caught off guard, if things do not go back to "old normal" immediately.

Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and is the author of five books on college ministry in eBook and print at amazon.com (type in Arliss Dickerson).  His book, 25 TIPS FOR DEVELOPING COLLEGE MINISTRY LEADERS is 99 cents this week in eBook.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

More Tech Helps for College Ministers Doing College Ministry On Line

A friend from my church called today because she had heard I had taught my Sunday School class on line this past Sunday and wanting to learn how to do it.  She had been told we had done Zoom which we had not.  I teach a group of older adults and thought Zoom would be a little much for some.  I had done Facebook Live. Here is the "plus" of Facebook Live that I learned.  We had about eighty five on live with us, but another one hundred or so have looked at it later, since it continues to be on my page.  It is a reminder that there are pluses to different methodology.

I am impressed with what so many College Ministers are doing in this "new normal" of students not being on campus.  I was in a Zoom visit with six or seven College Ministers from around the country this week and it was encouraging to hear what different ones are doing and what they are learning.

Darrell Cook at Virginia Tech had a large group event on Zoom with more than 100 students in it.  Their thought had been to do this one time to kick off their small groups, but then it went so well, maybe this needs to be an every week thing.  Another is posting on Facebook a brief daily devotional done by one of their students.

One feature in Zoom meetings that one mentioned was just discovering was that a large group Zoom meeting can use "Breakout Room" to create small groups and then come back together in the large group.

A former student put me in touch with Todd Boyum, who is a former Dell employee, who has done an eBook (Spreading Connection While Socially Distanced)  for using technology in ministry.  Todd is a Christian and he is offering the book for $9.95 and with it his personal coaching. Some topics in the eBook "Connecting with Large Groups on a Budget"; "Advanced Leveraging of Smart Phones.  "Using Zoom and How to do Breakout Rooms".

 Mr Boyum indicated to me that he would be willing to do it for a large group such as a state wide BCM organization for $2.00 each. One of the things Todd does now is on line coaching.  As a part of the deal, he will work with people individually to help them solve problems or answer questions.  Todd's email is todd.boyum@reachmeglobal.net.  His cell is 512.970.3836.  For some of you techie folks, this may not be something you need, but for those whom this is a whole new world, you may want to check it out.  I am not getting a cut of this financially....just trying to throw out helps and I will be glad to share others as they come my way.

PLEASE, PLEASE share what you are learning, so everyone can benefit as we go along and it will speed up the learning and ministry curve for all of us.  Don't be afraid to share your failures as well.  That will be an encouragement to all to know we are not the only one not getting it all done perfectly on first try. Tell what resources have been of value to you or what does NOT work, etc.   I continue to be encouraged by what I see different ministries doing.  Ministry with college students is happening and students are coming to Christ through what is happening.  Keep on.  Learn from and encourage one another!

This is a Friday addition:  One College Minister reports posting his Zoom code on social media and having someone join their Bible Study group and begin making obscene comments.  Beware of how you share your Zoom Code or set up a "Waiting Room" and only admit those who have been invited.

Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and is the author of five books on college ministry at amazon.com (type in Arliss Dickerson). 

Monday, March 30, 2020

College Minister, Are You Ready for the COMING Crisis? by Kevin Cox

We heard snippets of news as China was overrun by COVID-19.  We've heard how Italy's healthcare system has been overrun, leaving many to die.  Last night I watched a video by the New York Times of the crisis now facing emergency rooms in New York City where by Friday they expect to be out of beds in all NYC hospitals.  College ministers - our crisis is not live streaming your weekly gathering or setting up Zoom Bible studies - our crisis is coming.  Are you ready?

By a "coincidence" only the Lord could orchestrate (i.e. providence) our UMass Medical School Christian ministry Zoom Bible study this last Monday night was on Esther chapter four.  Esther clueless to the impending disaster facing her people is called upon by her cousin/advocate father to wake up and see God's hand upon her life and the issue facing her people.  Full of faith he boldly pleasds, "And who knows but that you come come to your royal position for such a time as this (Esther 4:14)?

Campus minister we are facing a coming crisis and its time for us as the church to prepare and plan now.  In a live stream and article, Ed Stetzer called on churches earlier last week to wak up and move out of "Phase 1:  Pause and Innovate" and move into "Phase 2:  Prepare and Plan," because the church of Jesus Christ needs to be ready to "Engage and Execute (Phase 3) and "Recover and Emerge" (Phase 4) in the coming weeks and months of this crisis.

What does tha mean for us as college ministers?  I confess I don't fully know, bu I would like to call on your college ministry gurus out there to help us all figure this out!  Here are a few thoughts:

1.  Prepare financially - This one I think all of us have already started to think about, but we need to be calling on our partners to pray and give even more sacrificially to advance God's mission among college students.  Many (including some of your students) are about to receive hundreds or thousands of dollars in stimulus money.  Some people really need this right now, but some may have essential jobs or may not need it.  Can we all sacrifice for the missin?

2.  Partner with Local Churches - You may not have a plan to care and addres humanitarian needs among college student or your community, but your churches need to!  The church is commanded to care for each other (Galatians 6:2) and to love our neighbor.  You don't have to be the church, but your church(es) does need to plan and prepare.
-Mobilize your students to help those in need.  Your college students have more time and they might be able to make phone calls, help manage a google intake form, organize a list of community resources for the needy in your community.
-Mobilize through the church.  In my context our clubs are affiliated with Student Organizations and are not to meet at all.  But your churches can as essential places.  I saw a picture from a friend in Tennessee who had college students working in their food pantry.

3.  Partner with your university - Start emailing or calling your contacts to say you are here to help them.  Here are some ideas:
-Counseling Office - Educators are starting to think about the coming mental healthcare crisis.  One campus I work with said 70% of students in the last year had moderate to severe depression in the last year and 30% of students thought abut suicide.  This is coming - how will your campus ministry help?
a.  Maybe phone calls to students feeling isolated.
b.  Maybe you as a campus minister can pray for campus administrators or staff during this time.
-Social Media is the new front door - Have students/your ministry social media pages repost services your campus is providing for students like counseling, food, tutoring, etc.
-Community Engagement office - Email your campus community engagement  office to see if they have needs.
-Give to student emergency fund - TGC had an article where Korean college students organized and gave to an initiative for the needy in their city through their university.

4.  Be prepared yourself.
-Pray, pray, pray and then mobilize your partners and church to pray.
-Neighbor notes - My wife and I are just in the beginning of this, but we are planning to take notes in ziplock bags to put on the doors of ur neighbors just saying they can text or call us for spiritual guidance, prayer, or for needs.
a.  Maybe some of your students are internationals stuck on campus.  Could they do something like this with some resources you provide?

The last few weeks I have enjoyed the extra time with my family, but while I am doing this I realize that city officials, healthcare providers, fellow pastors have been working tireless and preparing for the worst.  My we be like Esther and step into this moment with bold faith.  So that our lives demonstrat our Savior's call, "Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Kevin Cox
Clarke College, Worcester, Mass

Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and the author of five books on college ministry in eBook and print at amazon.com (type in Arliss Dickerson).

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A Trend in College Ministry I Do Not Like

When I started in college ministry many years ago, there was an axiom, "If you are up front, it is wrong."  The point was that students were to be doing all the up front things.  That was part of training them for future service as well as it being a student led ministry.

There has continued to be a growing trend for a College Minister to always be up front.  They speak for the main event and they lead the Bible study groups, etc.  Part of the current practice that is a good change is that in those years, if a student could not do it, then we had guest speakers.  That was a mixed bag.  The plus was students heard a variety of ideas, viewpoints, and even saw different styles of Christian messages.

The negative side of that was students often hearing a re-warm of last Sunday's sermon that did not apply much to them or a "What You Students Need to Know" talk.  It was amazing how many of those were pretty similar.

My granddaughter attends a college that has a large weekly worship event where two different students rotate speaking each week.  The College Minister selects them at the first of the year and they basically do it.  I must confess that scares me just a bit too.  But, it is working very well for that ministry.

I have previously admitted to the idea that I think we are making our weekly collegiate worship events a little too "churchy" in many instances.  That does not mean they ought to be short on gospel or Jesus truth.  I actually think that there ought to be some fun things part of the weekly event sometimes.  I do draw the line on some things, as I remember our student worship band leader throwing up beside the stage after a "fun activity" prior to leading the next song.

If you as the College Minister are up front a lot, why is that?

-Is it because you did not think far enough in advance to prep a student to do it?

-Is it because it just never occurred to you to ask a student to do it?

-Is it because you tried having students do some of it and they bombed miserably?

-Or, how are you training students to lead worship, speak, etc?

Here are some thoughts:

1.  Pick four or five students who you and your leadership team think would do a good job with announcements, prep them with a little "training" and rotate them as the "announcers".

2.  If you speak at your weekly meeting, try having a student be the speaker once a month.

3.  If there are not any students that could really speak, what about having a monthly "Tell Your Story Night" where three or four students would share their "testimony" of God's work in their life?

4.  If there a bunch of talented musicians in your ministry, what about asking four or five of them to each sing, play, or whatever a worship piece for one of your worship events?

In my first posting of this article, I did not state that for the last several years at ASU, I spoke at our weekly large group event, but with a lot of student involvement in different ways.

Is it a negative thing or just I do not particularly like it.  That's up to you to decide about your ministry in your location. Think about it.  Are YOU up front too much?  Why is that?  Or are you just particularly handsome or beautiful and they need to see you all the time?

Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and the author of five books on college ministry available in eBook and print at amazon.com (Type in Arliss Dickerson).

Monday, March 23, 2020

What Do College Ministers and College Coaches Have in Common?

It would almost seem a rediculous question to ask, "What do College Ministers and college coaches have in common?".  Certainly, not the salaries and public adulation....or maybe sometimes the public criticism.  But, actually I believe there is a great deal in common and things we can learn from college coaches.

1.  Coaching is all about TEACHING athletes to see their strengths and how to utilize those strengths to benefit the team as a whole.  College Ministers must do that every day.  It is the idea understanding spiritual gifts and functioning in community.

2.  RECRUITING is the lifeblood of college coaching.  College Ministers must recruit.  Summers and even Spring for many involves reaching out to new students coming to campus.  I asked a Head College Football Coach who had just been on the job a short time what he had found.  He said, "The talent level is worse than I thought."  There were not student athletes who could do what he needed them to do to be successful.  If you need musicians, are you doing anything specific to reach and connect to musicians?  Or, are you just hoping the Lord will send some your way?

3.  CULTURE is a word lots of coaches use.  The new Women's Basketball Coach at ASU talks about changing the culture.  Culture is "the way of life of groups of people....outlooks, attitudes, values, morals, goals, etc" according to Webster.  Does your ministry have a culture of evangelism, leadership, excellence?  What culture are you trying to instill?

4. A Head Coach is the FACE OF THE PROGRAM.  Whether a College Minister understands it or not, they are the face of that ministry.  People judge the ministry by what they see of the College Minister.  College Ministers must model what they expect from students. College Ministers are the face of the ministry.

5.  Every Head Coach works at installing their SYSTEM.  It is their offense...the way they do things.  There are lots of good and different systems.  But, each successful team understands and works that particular system.  There are different ways to do college ministry right, but each College Minister must have their system which is a result of the campus setting, resources, and their particular strengths and spiritual gifts.  Do you have a system that you are refining and working?

6.  ADJUSTING TO THE TALENT is part of being a successful coach.  Different years students have different particular talents.  When a passing quarterback is injured and the coach must put in one that is not a great passer, they adjust what they run.  In college ministry, there will be years that there are students who have particular strengths; are those being utilized?

7.  The Head Coach ORGANIZES AND LEADS THE STAFF so they are all on the same page.  A College Minister staff might be an Administrative Assistant, a one year intern, a multiple staff or some volunteers.  But, the College Minister is responsible for leading and helping the staff succeed.

Did you see this headline the other day, "College Minister Signs Multi-Year Million Dollar Contract"?  Maybe not, maybe your story is like mine, I came from a smaller campus and a smaller ministry to ASU to work a lot harder and I got a $5.00 a month raise from what I had been making. But, other than that difference, we can learn a lot from college coaches!

Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and is the author of five books on college ministry.  His book, "Doing College Ministry Better" is on sale this week for 99 cents in eBook at amazon.com (type in the title or Arliss Dickerson).

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Full Time BCM College Minister Sought

WANTED:  Baptist Campus Ministry Director for University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg to work with and develop students to transform the campus with the gospel and love of Jesus.

 Seeking a full time person to give leadership and direction to the ministry on the campus of UCM.  Masters degree from a Baptist seminary preferred.

The University of Central Missouri is a campus of 14,000 students from 49 states and 59 countries.

Send resumes to Dr. Greg Fine at ucmbcmdirector@gmail.com.


Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and the author of five books on college ministry in eBook and print at amazon.com (type in Arliss Dickerson).

Monday, March 16, 2020

Self Evaluation and Other Things During This Most Unusual Time in College Ministry

As many campuses are shut down due to the health crisis, many are trying some on-line small groups and even live streaming a Bible study or worship event.  Yet, with many experiencing a time of "empty campus", it is a time of introspection and personal evaluation.  I want to re-examine some of the "College Minister Types".  I am all about different type of College Ministers simply because there is more than one way to do it right.

Here is a quick look at some types:

THE PERSONALITY - This is the one most people hiring think they are needing.  This is the gifted speaker with the charismatic personality.  They instantly draw a crowd.  Most of us do not fit this category.  One easy mistake is trying to be this personality, when we are not.

THE CEO - The CEO is your Type A personality who is firmly in charge who is usually an organizer and promoter.

THE MANAGER -  The Manager is different from the CEO in that he/she tends to be much more behind the scenes.  The strength of their ministry is stability.

THE PASTOR -  Often this College Minister has been a pastor and operates a bit more formally in their relationship to students.

THE PEER - Or as some tag it, "The Hang Out Minister".  This style is done in more one to one relationships with an emphasis on community building.

THE COUNSELOR - Many students have issues with parents and self-awareness and this College Minister thrives in one to one counseling and helping students make personal decisions.

THE TECHIE -  Usually a young College Minister who is on all types of social media and uses it as a main force in driving their ministry.

Usually, I ask WHICH ONE ARE YOU?  But, today the question is, "WHICH ONE IS YOUR TOTAL OPPOSITE?

If each of these are valid ministry models, then which one is opposite your style AND what should you learn from that style or personality?  Be who you are, but be willing to develop in an area that has not been a strength and may add a dimension to your ministry.

OTHER THINGS TO DO DURING THIS TIME:

-Connect with another Campus Minister for mutual encouragement and sharing of ideas during this very different time.

-Be aware of students who may not be able to go home due to home or work, or whatever and encourage them individually.

-Have a pizza and visit time with other College Ministers on your campus or in your town.  You probably won't violate the current crowd recommendations!

-Do some extra reading during this time.  What are some topics you need to bone up on?

Arliss Dickerson is a part time college ministry consultant for Lifeway Christian Resources and the author of five books on college ministry available in eBook and print at amazon.com (Type in Arliss Dickerson).