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Monday, February 26, 2024

This One Trait Benefits EVERY Ministry!

 Some College Ministers are All-Stars in some ability.....then there is the rest of us!  I had a friend that was such a gifted athlete, he would go to the gym and get in a pick up basketball game and everybody wanted to introduce themselves and be on his team.  I had a handsome Associate once who would strum his guitar once in a song and everybody talked about what a great worship leader he was.  But, there was that handsome thing. Some are the kind of speakers that get invited to speak for every D-Now within 500 miles.

But, what about the rest of us?

CONSISTENCY is the answer!  Be where you say you will be. Be on time for meetings.  Return phone calls that day.  When you tell a student you will pray for them....pray for them. Check back later to see how that issue is going.

Show up for work EVERY day, on time and do what you came to do.  I was speaking for a College Minister Workshop one time and the person introducing me said, "Our speaker has the gift of stating the obvious."  I was not sure how he meant it.  But I decided to take it as a compliment.  Somebody has to state the obvious....again and again, it seems.  Somebody has to do the obvious again.....again.....and again.

College Ministry is hard EVERY day work. Students will let you down.  The school will schedule some big event at the same time as your event. The weather gets in the way. Tornadoes happen in the middle of your worship event.  What do you do?  You keep doing what you know to do.  It is called Consistency. People send students to a ministry because they know what happens there.  It is called Consistency.

How do you build a ministry?  You put one week on top of another week on top of another month, on top of another year. And, you keep stating the obvious.....God loves you, and wants to have a relationship with you.  And, he can forgive those stupid mistakes you made. You keep saying crazy things like, "I believe in you, your potential and that God can use you. That is called CONSISTENCY.

Why does it take 3 years to really establish a ministry? You have to put one week, one month, and one year on top of each other in a consistent manner.

So, what do you do, if you like me, are not especially good or gifted at anything?  Keep being and doing what God called you do.  Show up everyday and work at it like yesterday and like tomorrow.  It is called consistency.  

"Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain."  I Corinthians 1:58

Check out A 3 Part College Ministry Success Formula, Amazon.com/dp/B0BZ6Q7HSV; Almost Everything About College Ministry, Amazon.com/dp/B08CMD9CXX and Tips for College Freshmen at Amazon.com/dp/B09QFB9DJ9.

Monday, February 19, 2024

MORE On College Ministry Trends

 There was lots of passing around of my Blog article, "6 Recent Trends in College Ministry" and some good comments in regard to what others are seeing in different areas.  I would love to hear more of what trends....good and bad....you see out there in college ministry.  Here are a few observations from around the country.

 Chris Julian, IMB College Minister:  Per your last point:  "Fewer Young Adults Called to Ministry are Open to College Ministry" I know of 3 churches in the Memphis area who are having a difficult time finding someone for their student ministries.  Thus, young adult/collegiate ministries bears a brunt.

Gary Stidham, Texas BSM and Southwestern Seminary College Ministry Professor:  Many of these changes have both downside and upsides.  Oh the times they are a changin!.  There is still great collegiate ministry happening all around the country.  It's just taking different forms - and those forms are currently in major flux. I'm optimistic not because I think every shift is positive but because I believe in the mission of college ministry and the power of God's Spirit working through God's people!

Adam Venters is the BCM Campus Minister at South Carolina.  (1)  I think the terminology changes have been a pretty significant trend.  People want to know what it is they are going to.  I haven't found that us calling our Tuesday Night "Worship" gathering a hinderance for people that get invited by friends.  (2)  Personal invites are more important than ever.  I think you need promotional strategies, fliers, etc.  But, less and less students are just randomly showing up.  But I find a great openness to people coming and trying out the services, if they are invited by someone that they have some familiarity.  (3)  I think BCM has always had an advantage over other ministries because of the massive amount of church collaboration and support that they have.  I think in SBC life the focus for the college campus needs to be recaptured in many areas.  (4)  I am thankful for my churches.  All 167 of them.  Not all of them serve, partner or give in the same way.  But Carolina BCM is better because of them and not just one of them.  (5)  There are very few churches that can sustain a college only focused ministry.  Usually the jobs get torn with Young Adults, Missions, Rec, something else.  Very few churches that I know have a college only minister.

Daniel Johnson, BCM Campus Minister at the University of Kentucky.  We are seeing great success on the smaller campus, where anything offered is a significant draw.  We are seeing our students want to be able to address hard topics, but also want the main gathering to be a place where they could feel comfortable inviting their first-time friends

Eric Reiber, Campus Minister, Penn State.  Ministries on smaller campuses seem to be thriving up here too.  They are the only game in town and a lot of students connect just because they are looking for social things to do.  It's an easy first invite.  The battle is there are not a lot of healthy churches in some of these smaller towns that host these campuses. This is not across the board by an any means, but sometimes we are looking to get a missionary there and they have to connect to a church further away.  Church planting would be cool, but it's not the town that church planting networks are super hyped about.

James Touchton, former Protestant Chaplain, Ithaca College - I would push back a bit on #4.  Seen as a model by whom?  By students - maybe.  Students naturally want to feel supported and numbers at their Christian fellowships on campus make them feel less alone and encouraged.  But by those actually in ministry?  I seeing more emphasis on decentralized models where there is a focus on contextualizing the ministry such that there are smaller, "affinity groups" like ethnic-specific or field of study oriented or interest-based small groups where students encounter God through Scripture and community.  I also wonder how much area of the country makes a difference.  Most Christian students around here expect to be in the minority so they tend to prefer smaller, more connected community groups than they do larger gatherings that tend to be more performance-oriented and often rather shallow in content.

Jerome Stockert, BCM Campus Minister, Central Missouri State University.  We don't exhibit or see all of these in my area.  Our greatest spiritual fruit is occurring in small group contexts.  Where scripture and community is paramount.  We only do one large group a week and centered around a meal.  We focus on hospitality and out of that we share the gospel.  We work hard in initiating connections and  establishing relationships, gospel appointments, discipleship and mentoring, and leadership development.

Check out Almost Everything About College Ministry Amazon.com/dp/B08CMD9CXX, A 3 Part College Ministry Success Formula Amazon.com/dp/B0BZ6Q7HSV and Tips for College Freshmen Amazon.com/dp/B09QFB9DJ9


Monday, February 12, 2024

6 Recent Trends in College Ministry

 Trends come and go in everything, including college ministry.  Here are some things I see as current trends.  Of course, trends vary by region as well.

1.  Terminology changes - Campus based College Ministers now often refer to their weekly large group event as a Worship Service. Some years ago that was a killer on campus.  It was "Encounter" or "The Thing".  College Ministers now speak of their "sermon" and "preaching".  They used to be called "talks" or "Large Group Bible Studies".  Some use the term, "Campus Pastor".

2.  Students seem to want to be spoken to more than to lead out in campus worship events. - Formally, students did drama, testimonies, panels, The good of this trend is students get more solid content spoken into their lives.  The negative in this is that it lends itself toward developing more of a consumer mindset about faith and church.  

3.  There are continues to be more cuts in college ministry positions - As church offerings level off or decline, Baptist denominational Execs believe that they must learn to get by on less and so cut back in paid staff.  College ministry almost always suffers in these instances.

4.  Large church college ministries are seen by many as a model - The good in this is that more churches are being serious about trying to minister to the campus in their town.  The negative in this is that they are trying to model what is often being done by mega churches with large college ministry staffs and/or a large number of paid Interns.

5.  Campus based college ministry budgets are swinging from church supported to individual donor supported - Formally, campus based college ministries were almost totally supported by monthly gifts from area churches with some alumni giving to special projects.  Many of these churches were smaller churches who are seeing their membership age out and cannot continue to give. Or, larger churches that were giving move their money more to their own college ministry.  Alumni and other interested individuals are now giving a significant portion of the continuing operating budget.  The positive of this is that the ministries are not as affected by "denominational politics".  The negative side of this is the College Minister may have to spend more time doing "development work" but still be responsive to the priorities and concerns of the area churches.

6.  Fewer young adults called to ministry are open to doing college ministry - There are two factors in this.  First, the strong emphasis on church planting overwhelms all other voices and the word is out that there are fewer college ministry positions available, so why even look.

What trends do YOU see where you serve....good, bad, or just different?

Arliss Dickerson's book, Almost Everything About College Ministry, is at Amazon.com/dp/B08CMD9CXX and Tips for College Freshmen is at Amazon.com/dp/B09QFB9DJ9.

Friday, February 9, 2024

The BE-Attitudes of a College Minister

 1.  Be Intentional - Have a plan for the ministry and be working that plan.

2.  Be Grateful - No ministry succeeds to any degree without help from others.  Write thank you's and let people know you appreciate them.

3.  Be Prompt about Returning Messages - Even when the message does not need a response, a quick "thanks" or "Ok" lets them know you got the message.

4.  Be in Contact with Alumni - You can encourage them and they can help the ministry.  What if all your alums were praying for you and the ministry?  As church giving declines, they can be a huge factor.

5.  Be  Evaluating - Every year can teach us something.  Every event can remind us of something.

6.  Be Tweaking - Make small adjustments as needed and you will not need total overhaul every four or five years.

7.  Be Aware YOU  are the Most Significant Tool of the Ministry - Your personality, abilities, relationships, and knowledge will shape the ministry. In my book, A 3 Part College Ministry Success Formula (Amazon.com/dp/B0BZ6Q7HSV) I list the 5 ingredients and the College Minister is #1.

8.  Be Aware that Student Leaders are Volunteers - Express your gratitude to them in word and deed.

9.  Be a Witness - Let your words, actions, and attitudes be a witness to the reality of Jesus not only to the students in your ministry, but to the whole.

10.  Be a Friend - Friends are a huge part of emotional health.   To have friends; be a friend.

Arliss Dickerson's book, Tips for College Freshmen:  124 Tips for Fun, Faith & Good Grades, is at Amazon.com/dp/B09QFB9DJ9 and Almost Everything About College Ministry is at Amazon.com/B08CMD9CXX.


Sunday, February 4, 2024

College Minister Salaries

 I recently posted this statement on Facebook.

"One of the concerns being expressed in college ministry circles is that Baptist Conventions are now only willing to pay "entry level salaries."  Yet, most large college ministries are led by older, experienced veterans.  It takes time to win the respect of the administrators and develop an alumni network. ( I would add to that, and to develop the respect of churches, pastors, and community leaders.)

Many campus Baptist ministries now receive a significant  part or even the majority of their budget funding from individuals rather than churches.

Plus, we need the wise and experienced veterans to mentor the newbies."

I wanted to share some of the responses I got from those with years of experience in college ministry and funding for college ministry.

Brenda Crim, who has served in several states and now is in Alaska, said, Our fundraising training tells us that missionaries' funding is 85% individual giving and 15% church support.  Additionally, 17% of individual givers need to be replaced each year."

Gary Stidham, who serves in Baptist Campus Ministry in Texas and teaches College Ministry at Southwestern Seminary said, "Yes inadequate salaries  for campus directors is a big issue.  I interviewed a bunch of collegiate ministry leaders this summer, both inside and outside of Baptist life.  The tenure and temperament of the of the campus director was the most common factor in success - they were entrepreneurial with a long tenure.  Because of that, some of the best campus ministry in Baptist life is done by those who raise their support, since it rewards those with an entrepreneurial bent!

We have a hybrid model in Texas with support from the convention along side many support raising staff.  Interestingly, many churches love their people being able to give both ways, and having great local ministries has become a point of pride for them.  It's often the denominational leadership, not the churches, that are averse to staff raising support."

Chris Julian, IMB Missionary who has done college ministry in Brazil and Canada said, "The impact these ministries have reach far beyond the local campus.  We have used dozens of collegiate teams in Brasil and Canada, 33 Hands On semester students and more.  Campus ministries impact the world.  These ministers are missionaries."

Many outside of college ministry circles do not realize all the mission teams, Summer Missionaries, and other short term missionaries that come from and through local Baptist campuses based ministries.

Let's learn from one of the impacts of the frequent turnover of Youth Ministers.  Those that study and write on the loss of high school youth to church involvement indicate that one factor is the frequent turnover of Youth Ministers in local churches.  If College Minister salaries are "entry level" then we will see more frequent turnover in local campus based College Ministers.  As families grow and children need braces and college tuition, etc, these men and women will be forced out of campus based college ministry.

Cutting college ministries positions means reaching fewer college students and we need to understand that not paying adequate salaries for people to stay long term reaches fewer college students.  

If we want strong, effective, and yes, large college ministries, we must be willing to invest in those doing it and allow them to stay long term.  Does that mean better funding, allowing them to raise some of their salary or what?  Let's have those discussions.

Arliss Dickerson's book, Tips for College Freshmen:  124 Tips for Fun, Faith & Good Grades is available at Amazon.com/dp/B09QFB9DJ9 and A 3 Part College Ministry Success Formula is at Amazon.com/dp/B0BZ6Q7HSV.


Sunday, January 28, 2024

The WHY and WHAT of Freshmen Ministry

THE WHY:

    1.  If your ministry is about helping those students in need, Freshmen are at the top of that list.

    2.  Freshmen are the most reachable and available of all students.

THE WHAT:

    Issues and Freshmen Concerns and Questions:

    1.  They are looking for friends.
   
    2.  They are looking for fun.

    3.  Survival Issues are paramount in their concerns.

    4.  They want and need healthy community.

    5.  Many are looking for healthy role models or mentors.

    6.  Many Christian students are dealing with questions and doubts about faith for the first time.

THE URGENCY:

    Many, if not most, have set their relationships, patterns, and habits by the end of the first two or three weeks.

 Freshmen Family Groups

    A Freshmen Family Group is built around community and some basic survival information with scripture as the basis.   It allows for students of a variety of faith levels to be part of it.  An upperclass leader who is committed to the Lord and relational is a must.

Arliss Dickerson's book, Tips for College Freshmen:  124 Tips for Fun, Faith & Good Grades, is at Amazon.com/dp/B09QFB9DJ9 and A 3 Part College Ministry Success Formula is at Amazon.com/dp/B0BZ6Q7HSV.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

As a College Minister do You Have IT?

I heard a football coach describe his quarterback and he said, "He has IT."  

In college ministry, some assume that IT is charisma.  They are a great speaker and have that personality everyone wants to follow.  But, I am convinced that is not the IT Factor in college ministry.  The IT Factor in college ministry is Respect.

What makes college students follow someone over the long haul....work hard at their direction as a volunteer and even take constructive criticism from them? They respect them as much or even more than they like them.  There is a tragic trap it is easy to fall into and that is the trap of wanting students to "like us".  Of course, we do not want to be disliked.  But, if your goal is to be liked, you may forfeit the IT Factor of Respect.

Respect is earned.....Here are some ways:

1.  Time - Students have to see you live out who you are.  There is a eason that almost all of the large college ministries have a long time leader in place.  That person has been there long enough to earn respect....from students, supporters, the campus, etc.

2.  Don't just be one of the gang. Students have lots of buddies.  You are not called or paid to be one of their buddies.  You are to be a friend who has a different life perspective.  A buddy will not tell another buddy something they need to hear, but do not want to hear.  It might stop them from being buddies.  As God's person, you must sometimes say things to students they do not want to hear.

3.  Understand some will leave.  A person of respect stands on principle and sometimes it will cause students to leave your ministry.  That never stops being painful.  There are certain things you and your ministry are committed to, whether it is popular or not.  But, being principled and hard headed are not the same thing.  Make sure your recognize the difference.

4.  Stop trying to impress students.  Be you!  They know you are not 21....don't try to act like it.  College Ministers who try to hide their age or act younger do not fool anyone.


Things College Ministers with the IT Factor do:

1.  Encourage.

2.  Affirm gifts, abilities, and potential.

3.  Give feedback.

4.  Develop and train.

5.  Express God’s forgiveness to those who need it.

Never settle for just being liked!

Arliss Dickerson's book, A 3 Part College Ministry Success Formula, is available at Amazon.com/dp/B0BZ6Q7HSV and Almost Everything About College Ministry is at Amazon.com/dp/B08CMD9CXX.