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Monday, August 10, 2020

We Need Women in College Ministry

We need women in college ministry.  This is not a "liberal rant" or a response to anything other than the realities of college campuses and college students.

Women make up 56% of those attending college.  There are more women there.  Most college ministries have more women involved than men.  That goes to the number on campus and the greater difficulty in reaching guys...... which is another issue.

Why do we need women in college ministry?

-Young women are searching for godly women role models.  There are a ton of different messages in our society about how women are to act and be.  So, what is a Christian woman supposed to act like and do?  Role models are needed.  I love it when I see both single women and married women with children serving in college ministry.  Students are watching and learning.

-Do we really want our culture to be the only voice on college campuses as to what it means to live as a woman in today's world?

-Sexual assault is more of an issue on college campuses than the public number will ever demonstrate. But, the reported numbers are disturbing enough.  And, I am not accusing colleges of covering up those realities....although seemingly, some do.  Rather, sexual assault is likely the most under reported of any sort of crime.  I am glad when there is a trusted Christian woman they can talk to about it.

Why do we not have more women in college ministry?

-Unfortunately, women in college ministry have been caught in the debate over ordination and women being pastors of churches.  I have worked with several great women in college ministry.  None of them wanted to be the pastor of a church....or wanted to be ordained, but they did want to be appreciated.  I (a guy) served several years in college ministry before I was ordained.  It is not a necessity in most situations.

-Also, young women are not hearing us say we need them there.  Let's say it.  We need women in college ministry.

Lots more could be said.  Again, this is not about any great theological debate, it is simply the reminder that women are needed in Christian roles on college campuses.  They lead Bible studies in girls dorms, sorority houses, work with women's athletic teams, etc. That's not all they do, but its a task most guy College Ministers do not do well. Also, I have seen that there are some issues college guys would rather talk to a woman about.  And if there are more women on college campuses, we ought to be serious about reaching them.

Arliss Dickerson is a college ministry coach, blogger, and author.  His book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, is available at amazon.com.  Type in Arliss Dickerson or the title.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

How Will the Food Be Done?

In these craziest of days on college campuses, College Ministers are getting lots of questions they have never gotten before. They come from supervisors, students, parents and college administrators.

One large college ministry contacted their Student Affairs office to get permission to do a large out door welcome event.  They have done many similar events before and have a great working relationship with the school.  HOWEVER, these are not normal days.  The question was asked, "How will the food be done?".

If you do food for any of your events, here are some the questions:

-How will the food be served?

-Who will be cooking the food?

-In what configuration will the students eat?

I am sure that there will be other variations of these questions.  The ministry that had to have permission to conduct the outdoor welcome event on campus had to answer the question satisfactorily before permission was going to be given.  What would your answer be?

Many ministries have Outreach Lunch Programs.  Will those be dis-banded this year?  Are you planning to operate like always in the past?  One ministry that has a long tradition of a well done such Lunch Program shared a unique and good idea.  They will not have a "Yall Come" Lunch Program this year.  Rather, twice a month they will have a Lunch Program where they invite a specific group and get an estimated number from them of how many will attend.  By doing it every other week, they will have time to contact groups and get all the information passed back and forth as needed, plus do follow up from the previous group's attendance.  One week it may be a sorority and the next time the Student Senate or the Physical Therapy Class.

So, "How will the food be done?"  In the past they have had different churches bring the food and serve it.  This fall they will do a Chick Fila box lunch each time.  Since different groups are attending, variety is not an issue.  And, it is prepared by a recognized and acceptable food provider....not to mention one that is liked by students on the whole.  Since, most of the those who come from churches to serve are often older adults, they may not want to come, but they may be willing to contribute to it.  But, they can be invited to help hand out the boxes, if they desire.

Another option:  Would it be possible to prepare the food as you have done in the past?  And, buy take out boxes to dish it into and serve it?  Would that meet the different requirements and concerns?  The rules, requirements and concerns vary from campus to campus and administration to administration.  So, the questions and concerns have to be answered specifically to each place and ministry.

But, if you thought you could not do a Lunch Program...maybe you can....just think some new thoughts about how to do it.  Maybe you thought you could not do that welcome event like you have done in the past with food....maybe you can outside with "Box Lunches".

RANDOM:  I heard a Church College Minister yesterday say that their staff, including the pastor, goes to lunch on campus where students eat once a week.  He said word spreads like crazy when they are there and students especially love seeing the pastor on campus.  Presence and who is present communicates a lot.

Check out Arliss' new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, at amazon.com.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Four Things a Ministry Leader Must Do

1.  Have a vision and direction you are trying to take the ministry.

2.  Communicate that vision as clearly and often as possible.
-Have an elevator talk you can do any time. 2-3 minutes
This is what we are trying to do.  A story that illustrates it.  Here is something you can do to help.

3.  Ask others to lead AND ALLOW others to lead.
-Ministries die when it is all about that one leader and that leader leaves.
-The longer someone leads a ministry the more it takes on their strengths and weaknesses.
-Invite and equip leaders that mitigate your weaknesses.

4.  Accept Responsibility.
Leaders own it.  No matter who does what; it is still your responsibility.

Check out Arliss' new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, at amazon.com.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Baptist Collegiate Ministry is Alive and Well!.......However

With the recent word that Lifeway Christian Resources, in their need to reduce their operating budget by $25-30 million dollars, had eliminated the National Collegiate Ministry leader position, some have interpreted that to mean that BCM/BSU/BSM ministries throughout the country were being shut down. That is NOT the case.  The state and local College Minister positions are funded by each individual state.

IN FACT,  Baptist Campus Ministers have been working harder and more diligently throughout this summer than in any summer in my memory.  I have been incredibly impressed by their creativity and planning in dealing with this "New Normal" related to the Covid19 virus that has shut down college campuses since March.  They have done Zoom events and gone to all kinds of creative ends to connect with incoming freshmen.  Many have also been leading or sharing in programs to feed International students who have had their sources of food or fiances frozen.

Many have just learned in the last few days what their campus administration will allow student organization and ministry groups to do this fall.  Some have been told there can be no gatherings larger than 100.  Others have heard, no more than 50....some have learned no more than 10.  And, even some have been told they are to have no in person events.  So, those who have been given a maximum number that usually is smaller than a normal worship night crowd, are scheduling multiple worship events in one night, etc.  Others are organizing even more small group Bible studies that will meet all over campus. Others will do one to one discipleship and some will lead Zoom Bible study groups.  Instead of having the "summer off" as some have guessed, with no students around,  they have worked harder than ever in what is usually a catch your breath and work at a more moderate pace season.   

HOWEVER, some think that cuts to college ministry will likely be the first casualties in many states, if cuts must be made due to declining church offerings.  As one college ministry leader has said, "We are collateral casualties." College Ministry is often seen by some leaders as "good, but not necessary." Or, it is not one of the ministries that directly supports church ministries and therefore there will be less blow back from eliminating it or cutting it back.

If church offerings decline in the days to come, leaders will have to make hard decisions.  Let's pray that these decisions are made relative to a "vision for the future"...not just what is easiest and get's the least criticism.  Reaching young adults for faith in Jesus Christ and discipling them to be the leaders of the future is a necessity for our impact on our society and for the future of our churches and their on-going ministries.

Pray for College Ministers!  Pray for denominational leaders. Voice your concerns about the future of college ministry to your pastor, convention leaders, etc.  Say an encouraging word to a College Minister.  Let's pray for strategic decisions...not just reactive or easy ones.

Arliss Dickerson is a college ministry coach, blogger, and author.  His new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, is available at amazon.com.  Just type in his name or the title.


Monday, July 27, 2020

The 6 Types of College Ministers You Don't Want to Be.....by Blake Chrisman

Blake Chrisman read my different blog posts on types of College Ministers and sent me his take on it which I thought needed to be shared.  They are good and thought provoking. for personal evaluation.  Here are Blake's thoughts:

College ministers are some of the most committed and passionate people I've ever met.  It takes a unique drive to continue building into a new group of 18-year-olds year after year.  These leaders love Jesus and are focused on fulfilling the Great Commission. 

In my 13 years on the college campus, I've seen a few types of college ministers you don't want to be.  If you spend any amount of time on campus you'll inevitably run into one of each.

These 6 different types of college ministers have an element of good in all of them - that's why they are so common.  But carried to the extreme, they lose their effectiveness at making disciples.  You can learn something from each one!

#Note:  I've labeled all of these as men for the sake of the article.  They could  just as easily apply to women campus ministers.

#1  THE STRATEGIST
The Strategist comes to campus every fall with a new strategic plan.  he's read the latest Maxwell leadership book, watched a webinar, and is ready to roll out a whole new set of programs.  The large group meeting is on a different day.  The small groups are called "cell groups,' then "life groups,' then "community groups."  The strategist is sharp but ultimately confuses the staff and student leaders.

In college ministry, we always need to be innovative, but consistency counts.  The farmer can find new tools, but he can't change the regular rhythm of cultivating soil, planting seed, watering, and harvesting.  You don't want to short circuit momentum with constant changes.  give new plans a few semesters to work themselves out.

#2  THE GENERAL
The General runs a tight ship.  He is heavy on accountability.  His student is 2 minutes late to d-group?  He's kicked out.  Didn't finish your bible study prep?  You don't get to talk!  Mess up on your Scripture memory?  That right, that means push-ups!  The General can produce disciplined students, no doubt.  But he often lacks deep, authentic relationships.  He often leaves behind a wake of bitter, burnt-out believers.

We need healthy accountability in our ministries, but with grace.  Most of our students are young in the faith.  when my 1-year-old take her first steps I don't yell at her because she's not running.  College ministers must be encouragers.  You need to celebrate the wins and build up your students more than you rebuke and correct.

#3  THE SEMINARIAN
The Seminarian can be found at the campus Starbucks with his latte, doctrine book, and Logos software open on his laptop.  He is always learning, reading, and prepping for his next talk.  He attracts a few intellectual Christians but struggles to reach the lost.

There is a second version of the Seminarian , one who is ACTUALLY in seminary all the time.  He takes 6-12 hours of classes.  He is rarely on campus.  He calls himself a campus minister but it's really just a side gig whele he can finish Seminary.

Seminary is a great tool (I got my Master's while working on campus."  And studying theology is amazing.  However, when school is in session our primary focus needs to be meeting with students, not personal development.  A college football coach isn't in his office studying the playbook on Saturdays in the fall.  build some extra time for seminary or personal development in the off season, but don't let it take away from the crucial time to labor on campus when that fall semester starts.

#4  THE COLLABORATOR
The Collaborator is the sweetheart of all the college ministers.  He wants to partner with other ministries on everything.  You can count on him to come to the campus ministers' meeting with an announcement:  "An exciting speaker is coming to campus!".  Guess what?  He needs other ministries to volunteer to help.  Don't worry, your ministry's logo will be included on the flyer.  He reiterates how crucil it is for students to see the "body" of Christ working together on campus.

I'm all for supporting each other in our ministries.  There should be a fellowship and comradery among college lministers on campus.  It shouldn't be a competition.  However, God has gifted us in different ways, often to reach different groups of students.  He has called YOU specifically to make disciples on campus.  Do it!  Can you do an occasional event together?  Sure.  But don't try to rope in others to help pull off your event all the time.  Be passionate about your ministry and let it rip.

#5  THE EVENT PLANNER
The Event Planner thrives on excellence.  He spends hours designing a logo and flyer on Canva for an upcoming dinner.  The stake sign didn't print quite right so he sends it back to re-do.  One the day of the dinners, he has to go pick up groceries, tablecloths, fancy name tags, and decorations.  He spends the last few hours with his entire staff at his house making a homemade dessert.  By the end of it, he and his team have spent more time shopping at Target than they did inviting students.

As campus ministers, it's great to value excellence.  But we have to know when the cost exceeds the value.  It's not wise to spend 10 hours preparing for an event when 2 hours could accomplish 80% of it.  How many more students might have been impacted if those extra hours were used to invest and invite?  Know where to draw the line onpreparation.  Use events to drive meeting students and building community.

#6  THE "BESTIE"
The Bestie is, in a lot of ways, the opposite of The General  The college minister is buds with every guy on campus.  He is lifting with them at the guy.  He's playing pickup basketball.  He rarely texts because he's in every snap chat group.  The question for the Bestie becomes, "Is he developing his disciples' depth in the Scriptures or their NBA2K skills?"  Students arent' quite sure if he's a campus minister or just another student taking a victory lap.  He draws guys in but rarely produces a disciple.  After the initital fun wears off, students no longer feel challenged to grow and find somewhere else to go deeper.

Most college students don't need more friends.  They have plenty of those.  Wheat they need is a mentor who is going to challenge them to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.  Yes, you should build authentic, fun relationships with students.  But don't compromise depth in the Word and authority to speak truth into their lives.  Get students in the Word when your're with them at the gym.  Helpt them share the gospel after the pickup basketball game.  Challenge them.  They'll look back and thank God for your influence!

PUT IT INTO PRACTICE:
Jesus was laser focused.  He didn't allow distractions to sidetrack His mission to bild into His disciples.  As campus ministers, we must prioritize the main things:  building relationships with the lost, sharing the gospel, discipling new believers, and equipping the next generation of laborers.  Donn't get off track!

I'm convinced every campus minister has great intentions when they step foot on campus.  They labor among the most strategic group of people on the planet.  It's worth it to evaluate our weaknesses and sharpen ourselves to make an even great impact for God's kingdom."

Blake Chrisman is the Regional Director of Lone Star StuMo North in Fort Worth, TX.  for more good stuff by Blake go to blakechrisman.com/blog

Arliss Dickerson's new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, is now available at amazon.com.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Are You Thinking What You CANNOT Do or CAN Do this fall?

I continue to hear College Ministers wrestle with how to do their ministry with the new guidelines announced by their campus.  Some are still waiting for a final announcement of guidelines.  A friend yesterday, who serves on a nationally known campus,said they had been told "no in person student events".  That pretty well cooks Plan A AND Plan B!

If you know me, you know I like big crowd events.  I love the energy at a crowd gathering of college students.  I love how students can come to those and be anonymous, if they choose.  I love how they get a sense of God's movement on campus.  I love how they see, "I'm not the only Christian after all."  I love....well, you get it.  I like large group gatherings.

But, what if, you learn like my friend, no in person gatherings or they are limited in such a way as to really scuttle your normal ministry?  Despite the fact that I am a lover and advocate of large group events, I believe the most transformative thing we do is meet with a student one on one.  Usually, that is through and with our leaders.  But, this year is different to say the least.

What if......

-you met with a different student for lunch each day of the week?

-you started, even now, inviting freshmen to lunch or for a coke or coffee?

-you tell that new student to bring their roommate?

-a meeting with a new student goes really well and you learn they have a heart for the Lord?  Ask them to meet you next week and bring a new friend they have made.

- if you schedule  morning, lunch and afternoon meet-ups? That would be three a day for five days a week.  That's fifteen students.  For fifteen weeks, that would be 225 individual meetings. Some of those would be on-going ones with core students who would have been in a leadership role, if all were normal.  Maybe, some of those would be follow ups on a good first time meeting that went really well.

What do you do at that one to one with a brand new student?  Ask what you can pray about for them and do it right then.  In a couple of days, call them and see how they are doing.

When you meet with that core student, invite them to pray with you at the end.  I believe one of the most important things we do with students is to teach them how and encourage them to pray out loud with someone.  If it's a really public place and you don't want to put on a spiritual show, both of you can pray with your eyes open....it's ok.  I've done it.

If you are a cheap skate like me, you quickly say, "that's a lot of money for cokes/coffee and lunch."  But, if you cannot have your regular big welcome event, can that money be "re-budgeted"?

Let's not think about what we CANNOT do....let's think about what we CAN do.  Let's pray, "God help me see things I've not seen or thought before. Help me see the positive in the new normal."  We usually see what we are looking for, don't we?

WHAT IF?

Arliss Dickerson's new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, is now available at amazon.com. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Building Up Your Student Leaders

In college ministry, apart from a movement of the Spirit, I believe the two greatest factors in the success of a college ministry are the College Minister and the student leaders.  I do not think we can over emphasize the importance of strong, caring, and functioning student leaders.  Investment in them is like buying a stock cheap that triples in value.

Who we can reach is impacted by our student leaders.

What the College Minister is set free to do that no one else can is caused by student leaders doing what they can.

God's Kingdom is impacted for years to come by student leaders who graduate and go on to serve in a church somewhere in the years to come.

Seeing what God does in student leaders lives is immensely rewarding to a College Minister....for years to come.

As we continue to say, these are the strangest of times.  It just may be that when school starts and the size of meetings is affected by University rules, etc or even banned, student leaders will be more important than ever.  If the College Minister cannot even go on campus...as will be the case some places, what the student leaders do is huge.

So, as we are a month or so out from school starting, what can you do with your student leaders?  Here are a few suggestions.

1.  AFFIRMATION/ENCOURAGEMENT
It is easy for them to feel we are always asking or demanding.  Make sure they know that you are affirming and encouraging....not just in general emails or messages, but specific to each one.  This has been a hard and unexpected summer for most.  Help each leader to know and see the value and gifts that God has placed in their individual life.

2.  SPELL OUT EXPECTATIONS
As best you can, spell out expectations for the coming fall.  Exactly, what is it you need them to do.  And, give an "Exit Ramp" for anyone that has had a change in circumstances.  And, make it a graceful one....not the Benedict Arnold exit.

3.  GIVE SOMEONE A SECOND CHANCE
If a  ministry slot has opened up, is there a student leader who dropped out at another point or did not do well in a previous role, that should be given another chance?  Could be they have grown up and matured from that past experience?  Be wise in this and be prayerful.

4.  MAKE BEING A LEADER REWARDING.....AND EVEN SOMETIMES FUN!
I am just dumb enough to believe that students ought to get something out of being a leader and investing the time, energy and care they do in the ministry.  They get spiritual growth, they get what could even be called work experience, but let's try to see that they get more.  Give them a tee shirt no one else gets or give them some discount coupons, feed them a special meal.  AND, do something just fun with or for them.  Students like fun and if they get some fun out of a rewarding service, it will just sink that much deeper into their soul the value of serving.

Arliss Dickerson is a college ministry coach, blogger, and author.  His new book, ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT COLLEGE MINISTRY, is available at amazon.com.  Type in his name or the title.