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Thursday, February 2, 2023

What Should Campus Based Ministries Learn from Large Church Weeknight Events?

I have been amazed at some of the really large crowds that some church college ministries have for their Wednesday or other weeknight worship event.  I heard recently of one this semester that had 1400.  That is a crazy number.  I heard of another church college ministry that had over 2,000 at their first  August Wednesday night event that they held on campus in an outdoor theatre.  There are only a small hand full of campus based ministries in the country that would come close to having these type numbers.

I want to try to address this some in the near future for the benefit of all.  Is there something campus based ministries or other churches should learn from this phenomenon?  If you are one of the fortunate ones experiencing this, would you tell us why you think it is...apart from a move of God's Spirit?  If you are a campus based College Minister and see this happening with a church reaching out to your campus, what do you see as the reasons for it?  What do they do differently than your campus based ministry?

FIRST THOUGHTS OF SOME HAVE BEEN:

-Some of these have 10-20 Interns.

-Large Budgets that few campus based ministries have.

-Professional musicians leading worship.

-Top notch equipment for sound and lighting.

-Focus on this one event and are not doing a lot of other events each week.

-Large facility to hold such a crowd or resources to rent a large campus facility.

-These church ministries hire "Speaker/Preacher" types while campus based ministries focus on those who are more organizers and discipleship oriented.

Message me at arlissdickerson@gmail.com, Facebook me, or you can respond here.  Or, we can connect by phone.

Should your college ministry be reaching more students?   Check out Reaching MORE College Students:  Next Level College Ministry at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Eight Questions to Ask About Your College Ministry

 I was stunned when I learned that the best guess by college ministry leaders was that ALL college ministries combined were reaching about 5% of the 12 million full time college students in America.  I have been around so many college ministries that are doing well and many of those are large. And, many of these campuses  have multiple ministries reaching out to the campus.  But, that is not true everywhere.  There are two answers.  There must be more ministries planted on campuses where there is no Christian college ministry.  Second, where there are ministries, we must make an effort to reach more.

If you want your college ministry to reach more, you must ask some hard questions.

1.  What do I personally need to change or do differently?

2.  Are there things we are doing in our ministry that are just not worth the cost in either time or money?

3.  If we drop something to simplify and focus our ministry, what should it be?

4.  What are we doing just out of habit?

5.  Are our events on the right day and time?

6.  How are other ministries affecting our ministry?

7.  What should we learn from other ministries that are reaching a large number of students?

8.  How are campus policies, rules, or the administration affecting our ministry and what can we do about it?

What if every college ministry were just to reach 5% more than they are reaching now?  If we are reaching about 600,000 total now, that would be 30,000 more students reached.  What about you?  Are you in to do one or two things differently to try to reach 5% more than you are currently reaching?

This article is adapted from Reaching MORE College Students:  Next Level College Ministry which is at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Things I Learned Listening to 700 Speakers”

 I calculated one time that I had heard at least 700 speakers at our weekly Lunch Program and have seen it done well, really well, and could that have gone any worse.  Here is what I think are the things that I have learned from those who did it well.  I have tried to practice these in my own speaking

1.  Tell Stories.  Stories get their attention and give them a hook to hang your main point on.  Ed Seabough, one of the great college speakers of the 60's and 70's was a master story teller.  He told me he practiced several times telling a story before he told it to a crowd.  Practice your story.

2.  Speak Casually.  Most college students, especially those you most want to listen, do not respond well to what I call "the preacher voice".

3.  Humor always goes Well.  Telling something stupid you have done, etc.  Just do not tell corny, eye rolling jokes.

4.  Pace Matters.  Often time is limited, but it is important to not get in a hurry.  That is part of speaking casually and more informally.  It is just you and a conversation with a whole bunch of college friends.

5.  Know when they QUIT Listening.  In my experience, when a bunch of them have their heads down, they have quit listening.  It happens to all of us.  That is the point to say something that draws them back into the conversation. One big crowd speaker says he always has a prop or something he pulls out at that point.  Sometimes, just a pause will do it and then almost like you are starting from scratch.

6.  Quit BEFORE they quit!  Better too short than too long.  When it is going well, don't get carried away by the sound of your own voice. It has happened to me....maybe not you.

7.  Speak without a podium or speakers stand.  It just feels more casual.  Put your notes in your Bible.....I always use some sort of notes or outline and just paper clip them inside my Bible.  I know some of you guys and gals are smart enough to speak without notes.

8.  Ask an INVOLVEMENT question.  "How many of you cut class today?"  Or, "How many of you have done something really stupid?"  When I ask something like that, I always hold my hand up.

9.  Do a Give Away.  I sometimes have given a Gift Card to a student who would hold their hand up on one of my Involvement Questions.  It is usually like a $10 gift card to a popular student eating place....nothing fancy. That perks everybody up.

10. Do Q & A!  Let them ask questions and ALWAYS, ALWAYS make them feel good about what they ask.  "That is a great question."  "Boy that question shows you are smarter than me."  Never put down anyone for what they ask. The more you affirm the questions ask, the more they will ask questions.

There is only one Louie Giglio or whomever your favorite speaker is, but we can all do better, if we practice a little. And, I am all about doing it out loud at least twice before I do it in front of a group.  That is, I think, the SECRET TO BETTER SPEAKING.

Could your college ministry be reaching more students?  Check out Reaching More College Students:  Next Level College Ministry at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.

Monday, January 23, 2023

9 Tips for Doing College Ministry for the LONG TERM

 We need more long term College Ministers.  It is not just something to be done until we can get our own church.  Larger ministries are usually led by long term College Ministers because of their experience, the trust they have established with others, and their reputation for investing well in students.  Too many move away from college ministry when they are at the point of really taking their ministry to an even more productive level.

Try on these tips for staying the long term:

1.  Act your age.  Since some buy into the myth that college ministry is only for the young, so they they to act younger than they are.  Students see through that.  They have buddies their own age.  You can benefit them from an older life experience perspective.

2.  Rest and prepare when students are gone.  When students are not around such as breaks and even Fridays is the time to rest, prepare, read.  Do long term prep.  Also, it is a great time for evaluation.

3.  Tweak...Don't burn and Obliterate!  Unless your ministry is a total failure, it does not need to start from scratch every year.  Build on what is working and adjust to student and campus changes.

4.  Don't Compare.  Don't compare yourself to the "Golden College Minister".  There is always a current Golden Boy or Girl of college ministry.  They and their ministry are not perfect, just as you and yours is not.  Learn something from them, but do not compare.  It is usually destructive.

5.  Go to meeting and DON'T sit in the hall all the time.  There is a temptation since you have done college ministry for a while to think you will hear nothing new.  Two things:  you will be reminded of things you never need to lose sight of AND there will probably be some things you have never heard or they click this time.

6.  Communicate your love for college students.  YES, that will help you survive longer and do it better.  It will remind you of God's calling to you for this ministry.  It is why you came in the first place.  Plus, it will help you do your ministry better. AND, when you sit with and eat with students, you get to eat more french fries!

7.  Mentor younger College Ministers.  That actually will help you stay longer and do it better.  It causes you to continue to think about what and why you do things.  AND, it will help you stay current with how younger generations things.  PLUS, they will tell you all the latest aps and ways to use tech in your ministry.  It is a win win.

8.  Listen and may even learn from those with whom you disagree.  There are lots of different ways to do college ministry well.  While we may disagree theologically or even style wise, there are ideas other are practicing from which we can benefit.  But, we have to be willing to talk to them and listen to them.  Have you ever hosted a coke, coffee, and prayer time for all the College Ministers on your campus?

9.  Invite your spouse to some events.  While your spouse may work in another area and have a more than full life apart from your ministry, let them see and be part of your world.  It will help them understand why you come home and hour later than you said you would.  Students will benefit from seeing a healthy marriage relationship.

Could your college ministry be reaching MORE college students?  Check out Reaching MORE College Students:  Next Level College Ministry at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Tom Ruane Passed away

 Tom Ruane, former State BSM College Ministry Leader for Texas, passed away yesterday. His funeral will be Saturday in Waxahatchie. Prior to serving in the state office, he led a large ministry at UT-Arlington. Following his retirement, he has been active planting Cowboy Churches. 


Could your college ministry be reaching more students?  Check out Reaching MORE College Students:  Next Level College Ministry at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.

Signs of a College Ministry in Need of Repair

 If multiple ones of these are evident in a ministry, then it is time to think about a "repair plan".  But, no ministry is perfect and one or two of these could be developing and need to be addressed before they affect the overall health of the ministry.  These are adapted from my book, Fixing a Broken College Ministry (Amazon.com/dp/1521876665).

1. Very few new students ever attend.

2.  When a new student comes, he or she seldom ever come back a second time.

3.  Core students do not invite or bring friends with them.

4.  Students tend to not serve in missions or ministry opportunities.

5.  When students graduate or leave school, most do not continue involvement with a church.

6.  The ministry has a bad reputation on campus.

7.  There is no pride within the student leaders for programs or other events to be done with excellence.

8.  The majority of students have no desire to serve or lead in the ministry in any way.  They are strictly there as a time filler or because they have no other place to be.

9.  There is no awareness of the ministry on campus.

10. A total misperception has developed about the ministry relative to theology and practice.

11. Misbehavior by core students or student leaders has given the ministry a black eye.

12. There is no sense of a movement of God in any way.

Obviously, this is not an all or nothing list.  It is not, "If we only have six of these, we are ok.".  One or two of  these can be a major issue.  Now is a good time to think about the health of your ministry.  Thanks for what YOU are doing!

Arliss Dickerson's book, Reaching More College Students:  Next Level College Ministry, is available at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.

Monday, January 16, 2023

The Fine Line for Church College Ministries

 I have written and spoken often how campus based and church based college ministry are not twins, but rather are cousins.  Each has some unique strengths that the other does not have.  College ministry is better and more students are reached and blessed when we each lean into the specific strength of the ministry we lead.  Conversely, each of us have our "issues" which we have to work with and around. 

In my book, Almost Everything About College Ministry (amazon.com/dp/B08CMD9CXX) I wrote about the four church college ministry killers.  They are:

1.  Constant turnover of College Ministers.  There tends to be a much quicker turnover of church College Ministers than of campus based ones.

2.  Decisions are made for the overall benefit of the church and can be contrary to the building up of the college ministry.  One example is when church times will be and what services are offered when.

3.  Church College Ministers have more divided time issues than campus based ones.  They have other assignments such as hospital visitation, etc.

4.  Church College Ministers are often more sharply evaluated by numbers.  Pastors and church members often do not understand the ebb and flow of the college calendar, go home weekends, etc.

HOWEVER, church college ministries have a great plus that campus based ministries do not have.

Young adults have expressed and demonstrated in many ways their desire and need to be mentored by older adults.  One reason for this need is the large number of students that come from broken homes and need to see good functioning and healthy family relationships.  Plus, students are struggling more with their life career choices.  Connecting students to those who are into their careers and know the realities is a huge plus.

But, there is a very fine line that church college ministries have to walk.

That fine line is the one between doing things that specifically  speak to and connect with college students AND connecting them to the church as a whole.  Many churches do a great job of reaching a large number of students and being a blessing in their lives.  But, they do not connect them to the church as a whole.  So, what is the problem with that?  It is possible  to so cater to and direct a ministry at college students that they are not connected to anyone faith-wise outside their age bracket.  Going to a great week night college event with cool lighting and a smoke machine can make Sunday morning seem pretty dull.

College ministries need to speak to specific college student issues that are NOT Sunday morning topics.  So, we cannot quit being college student specific in what we do. Yet, a church cannot be just a college ministry.

TWO ANSWERS:

1. We have to lay out the challenge for more non-college adults to be willing to wade into college student events.  Be a part of what college students are doing.  Some of these could be every week people and others could be recruited to just come once.  But, students would get used to seeing a variety of ages and even become friends with some of them.  And, the non-college adults would see the need and opportunities in college ministry.  A church cannot have too many college ministry advocates.

2.  We must lay out to students and challenge them as to why it matters for them to connect to church in more that the college specific events.  Help them know there is a reason for them to sometimes sit next to someone twice their age....or even three times their age.

I spoke with a man who had a son who was starting to college soon.  We started out talking about the son.  But, we wound up talking about what the father's church college ministry experience had meant to him and how the friendships he had developed with the non-college adults had blessed his life.  He expressed how he wanted that for his son in college.

It is a very fine line and a tough line to walk.  A church college ministry must address some very specific college students issues but also connect students to the church as a whole and involve them in Sunday church.  And, part of the blessing of a college church is relationships with lots of positive parent and grandparent type figures.  That will also help them know how to do church after college.

Could your college ministry be reaching more students?  Check out Reaching MORE College Students:  Next Level College Ministry at Amazon.com/dp/B0BMW8NPMN.