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Monday, May 17, 2021

Walk Across the Campus EVERY Day!

 One of my deeply held personal principles of college ministry is, Walk Across the Campus and Through the Student Center Every Day!  Why does that matter and what is the big deal about it? There is no magic sauce in college ministry....but.....this comes close for me. Here is why;

-Every college campus is unique and has its own climate and culture.  Learning and knowing your campus is key to doing an effective ministry on that campus.  No two campuses are identical.  You must be a student of your campus.  

-The more you do it, the more you will start meeting people and developing relationships.  Stop and buy a coffee or coke and talk to the person serving you.  When you are standing in line, visit with those around you...but don't be creepy. 

-Bump Visits happen.  A Bump Visit is when you see that student that says, "I've been needing to talk to you."  Or, when you see that student who has not been around in a while and you get to visit and encourage them in a non-threatening, not where you have been kind of conversation for two minutes.

-You run into your core students  who say, "Have you met my friend?'.

-You develop relationships with students who are not involved in your ministry.  And, they are part of what the grapevine says about your ministry on campus.

-You meet and know the behind the scenes people that make the campus function like the custodians, counter workers, and the Executive Assistants who schedule meeting rooms, etc.

-You can meet and get to know administrators apart from when you are asking for something.  Then, when you are asking for something, you will likely get a much more positive hearing.

-You get invited to campus events when you bump into administrators who say, "Hey, we are having a drop-in tomorrow; why don't you come."  It is amazing who you meet at those events.

-You learn to not take yourself so seriously.

-You are again and again reminded of the need for your ministry on campus.

-You can pray for needs and people you see on campus.

-You can laugh at the great and funny tee shirts that you see.

-You see the posters or Info Tables of other ministries and have a sense of what is happening in other ministries and it will challenge your thinking about your own ministry.

-It helps you understand the attitudes and assumptions of the students involved in your ministry.

  Walk Across the Campus and Through the Student Center Every Day!

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book,  A College Ministry Success Formula, is available at  If you have read it, go to the Amazon book page and post your honest review of the book.  Honest reviews are a plus!


Monday, May 10, 2021

"5 Steps to Working with Called to Ministry Students"...... by Ryan Scantling

College is a key time for students to hear and respond to the call to ministry and missions.  Here are 5 steps to working with Called to Ministry Students:

1.  Extend the Call to Ministry/Missions Often and Early to Every Student.

I believe there are scores of students who would readily respond to God's call to vocational ministry or missions, if only someone would voice that call to them.  It does not have to be complicated and it does not have to be formal.  In my ministry it has often sounded like, "If you are interested in Exploring a Call to Ministry or Missions, join me at dinner next week."

2.  Give them Space to Explore

Have you ever met a student who is the only one in an academic program or particular field of study....its awkward.  It can also be awkward being the only one who is exploring a call to missions/ministry in a crowd.  Try to give students exploring a call to ministry a space to explore their call and ask questions together.  They will learn as much from each other as they will from you.  During my time at Conway BCM, we did a dinner especially for Called to Ministry students called "Explore Your Call" once or twice a month before our weekly meeting.

3.  Connect Them With Mentors

Universities keep including their student to faculty ratios in recruitment materials because university recruiters keep finding that the next generations want experts who will guide them in a specific field of study.  The same is true with students exploring a call to ministry.  Connect them to ministry leaders, church planters, pastors, missionaries, and academics.  Help the next generation explore their calling by exposing them to older mentors who are living out theirs.  Conway BCM's Explorw Your Call dinners almost always include a local guest minister or stateside missionary that students can interact with and learn from.

4.  Expose Them to Opportunities

Internships, Seminaries, Ministry Jobs, Mission Trips, Volunteer Opportunities.  Start a GroupMe, put all your Called to Ministry Students in it and help them get connected to possibilities.  One of the most common questions I get from students exploring a call to ministry is, "How did you become a campus minister?"  The honest answer:  mentors in ministry just kept connecting me with opportunities.

5.  Answer The Questions They Are Asking

There are a lot of things called to ministry students need to know, however there are some things they are dying to know.  Ask your Called to Ministry students what questions they have....then answer them or bring people in to answer them.

For the last 6 1/2 years Ryan Scantling has served as BCM Campus Minister in Conway, AR.  In that time 42 of their BCM graduates are either serving in paid vocational ministry/missions or are currently enrolled in seminary.  Starting this summer, Ryan will be the BCM Campus Minister at the University of Arkansas.

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book, A COLLEGE MINISTRY SUCCESS FORMULA, is available at

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Is NAMB the Place to Lead SBC College Ministry?

This week the North American Mission Board (NAMB) requested that they be given the assignment to lead college ministry for Southern Baptists.  This comes as a result of Lifeway Christian Resources announcing in the spring of 2020 that they would no longer provide a college ministry office and personnel due to the necessity of making a $25 million budget reduction.  This assignment had been given to Lifeway by a vote of the Southern Baptist Convention several decades ago and reaffirmed in more recent votes.

During their recent spring meeting, the NAMB trustees voted unanimously requesting the assignment for collegiate ministry be given to the organization. The proposal as approved by the trustees reads as follows:

Assisting churches in reaching and mobilizing college and university students in the United States and Canada.  Promote the advancement of college and university ministry efforts in evangelism, discipleship, churchmanship, leadership development and missions mobilization through collaborative partnerships.

Many see this as having both positive and negative possibilities.  On the positive side, it seemed to be the most likely option simply because it is the North American Mission Board.  And, their recent step in establishing a "National Director of Collegiate Evangelism" position and appointing Paul Worcester to that role has been seen as a very positive step.  Paul is widely liked, and is being used in a variety of BCM/BSU/BSM evangelism training events.

The negative concerns expressed privately by many are a result of  NAMB's efforts in recent years in promoting campus church plants as what seemed to be expressed as their view as the only or best way to do college ministry. BCM leaders felt that these campus church plants often functioned as competition rather than a partner.  And, some NAMB leadership seemed to express the view that BCM was an outdated and no longer effective ministry.  So, the primary concern is, will NAMB promote, develop, and be a voice for BCM ministry or simply advocate for campus church plants as the best way to do college ministry in all settings?

The strength of BCM ministry is the wide variety of needs it meets such as leadership training, international student ministry, missions opportunities/promotion, helping local churches with their college ministries, etc. Will NAMB provide encouragement and development in all of these areas or simply be about promoting evangelism and campus church plants? The view is, if NAMB's role will be to simply continue doing what it is doing, then it will be an ineffective overall leader for college ministry.

Some college ministry leaders have advanced the idea of a college ministry leader being attached to the SBC Executive committee under Dr. Ronnie Floyd's direction.  Their thinking was that BCM ministries deal with every aspect of Baptist life and this would best continue that effort.

 Southern Baptist college ministry needs a national home and we need it to be the best and most respected possible. It would seem to be helpful for NAMB leadership to express publicly what their thoughts and plans would be for the future of college ministry and who or what type person the overall leader would be, if they are given that task. 

It is not my intent here to speak for or against the NAMB proposal, but simply to lay out the issue and encourage all of us to be part of the best possible decision being made.

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book, A COLLEGE MINISTRY SUCCESS FORMULA, is available at


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

HBCU College Ministry Position Available

 The Arkansas College and Young Leaders Team of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention is looking for a College Minister to serve at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff.  UAPB is a historically black institution with an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students.  Pine Bluff has a population of 39,000. The BCM ministry at UAPB has been active since the 1960's. 

This position is a full time and fully funded position with additional benefits and is under the supervision of the state wide Baptist Collegiate Ministry in Arkansas.  For additional information or to submit a resume, contact Bruce Venable at

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book, A COLLEGE MINISTRY SUCCESS FORMULA, is available at

Monday, May 3, 2021

Random Advice for College Ministers

I recently read Carey Nieuwhof's "25 Random Pieces of Advice for Leaders in their 20/s, 30's or 40"s" which I highly recommend.  I thought I would share my random advice for College Ministers.

Show up for work every day when you should and work.

Plan, spend and work the first three weeks of the fall semester like your ministry and life depended on it.....because at least your ministry does.

Don't ignore your critics.  But, don't let them determine your actions.

When you go to conferences, don't spend ALL your time in the hallway.

At a conference find someone who has done it longer or better than you have and ask them a couple of questions.

At a conference find someone who is discouraged and encourage them.

Learn from your hero in ministry, but do not copy them.

Ask your spouse first about their day when you get home.

Be "a gatherer".  If there are other people who do college ministry on your campus or from nearby churches, gather them together occasionally for the benefit of all in prayer, conversation and just being with somebody else that gets it.  Ignore the fact that some are competing AGAINST you or that your theology isn't exactly alike.

Let your student leaders know you appreciate them.  Do not take them for granted.  They are not getting paid.

Look for students who do things you cannot do and turn them loose...with your encouragement and guidance.  Freedom and abandonment are not the same thing.

Avoid the APPEARANCE of improper male/female relationships.

Keep careful records of ministry money and readily share that information with stakeholders and anyone with a concern.

Realize students probably do not think you are cool.  So, just relax and be you.  They also probably think you are older than you are.

Be a friend to students who are not in your ministry.

Be on time for meetings.....and your students are more likely to be on time for meetings.

Go to some intramural games just to watch and cheer.....even though you have some "way more important" things to do.

Mop, sweep, vacuum, or clean your meeting place, if it needs it.....even though you are way too important to do things like that.  And, mow the yard, if it needs it.  But, if someone else is supposed to be doing it, help them know how to do it, if need be.

Start your events on time and finish on time.  Some students study.

Make a list of some books to read this summer.  Order them now.

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book, A COLLEGE MINISTRY SUCCESS FORMULA, is available at


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Questions to Ask at the End of the School Year

 I am a huge proponent of evaluation in our ministries.  College ministry is a continually moving target.  The campus changes just a bit each year and our students vary in their responses and the gifts/abilities our student leaders bring to the ministry.  Evaluation helps us tweak where we need to adjust and to celebrate what went really well and where the Lord blessed us....maybe even way beyond what we deserved. And, with this being the craziest year yet, some cold eyed evaluation is surely needed.  So, at the end of this semester or quarter, here are some questions you might ask.

1.  What did we do differently that is definitely a keeper for the future?

2.  Were my priorities for the ministry demonstrated in what we did and accomplished?

3.  Was there one place, event, etc where God just blessed us beyond anything that we did?

4.  What is one "never do that again"?

5.  If summer orientations, etc go back to normal this year, are there takeaways from last summer to do in addition to what we have done previously?

6.  How did I (you personally) do in pacing myself and doing right by my spouse and children?  DON'T SKIP OVER THIS ONE!

7.  What is one thing I really learned or re-learned this year?  I knew it, but boy did I realize it THIS year.

8.  Who do I need to write a thank you note to or take to lunch or coffee and express my appreciation for what they did for the ministry this year?

9.  What was the overwhelming strength of the ministry that shined through this year?

10. What was the overwhelming  weakness of the ministry that shined through this year?

11. What am I going to read this summer and who am I going to visit with to learn more about doing ministry?

12.  What is one fun thing I will do this summer?

A Brief Commercial:  One of the ways I envision my new book, "A College Ministry Success Formula" being used is as a way to evaluate where a ministry is in regard to what I see as five key areas.

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book, A COLLEGE MINISTRY SUCCESS FORMULA, is available at

Monday, April 26, 2021

Everything About College Ministry in ONE Sentence?

 Occasionally, we are asked or challenged to say everything we know about something in one sentence. It is the attempt to get to the crux of the matter.  Boil it all down and what is at the very core.  I could say my one sentence would be:  "No college ministry accomplishes anything of lasting value apart from God's blessing and movement in the ministry and on campus."

But, assuming that, here is everything I know about college ministry in one sentence:

Be you where you are!

Here are the two parts to that statement.  FIRST, God wants to use who we are.  His will for us is written into our gifts, abilities, and interests.  Some are speakers and some are one to one disciplers.  Some are musicians and some are personality people.  The strength of our ministry is usually tied to who we are.  The ministry will always reflect our strengths and weaknesses to some degree or other.  Our priorities will shine through.  The longer a College Minister leads a ministry, the more that will be true.  That's why we always have to be a work in progress and continuing to learn and grow.  Sometimes, the hardest person to understand and be honest about is ourselves.  We have to identify what we do well, what we don't do so well and deal with both those.  And, we have to remember that those change to some degree over the years.  Therefore, our strengths in year five may be very different that in year twenty.  That is also true of our weaknesses.  There is always a temptation to copy our hero in ministry.  The problem is that is not who God made us to be.  Be the YOU God made you to be.

SECOND, every campus is different and we must treat it that way.  That is why the same College Minister cannot exactly do the same things that might have been very successful for him or her when they served on another campus.  We must continue to be students of our campus.  That means understanding the students there as well as the administration.  Both those will affect the attitudes and responses to our ministry.  Is this a "Flagship Campus" or a "Commuter Campus"?  Are there other ministries active and strong or is our ministry the only campus ministry?  Lots of variables affect and determine the approach and response to our ministry.

And as the campus changes and as the College Minister changes through the years, adjustments have to be made.   Be the you that you are today on the campus as it is today.

Arliss Dickerson's brand new book, A College Ministry Success Formula, is now available at