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Friday, December 7, 2012
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Thursday, July 19, 2012
How to Get College Freshmen Actively Involved in Church
We have all heard the alarms. We have all seen the statistics. Students entering college are abandoning the church, leaving those of us in the church left to answer the key question, “What do we do?” While there is not one simple solution to such a complex issue, one thing is for sure. We must provide a better bridge for students at the pivotal transition from high school senior to college freshman that facilitates their activity in the local church.
If your church has decided to build that bridge for college freshmen, take a look at these practical steps that can help you no matter your situation.
1. Resist a cookie-cutter approach. It is always good to glean from another’s success, but resist the temptation to copy someone else’s model when it doesn’t fit your context. You are unique and it pays to spend more time studying your particular situation rather than someone else’s.
2. Assess your environment. With any project, you must begin where you are. You can determine where you are by asking yourselves questions like: What college students do we have in our church (if any)? Do we have people in our church interested in helping college students? How far are we from the college campus? How would a college freshman know we exist? Why would a college student want to come to our church? What are the college students in our city interested in? Where do college students spend their time? Answering these questions, and ones like them, will help you move to the next step.
3. Develop a vision. The other part of the process is to determine where you want to go. What is your destination? The truth is that people are attracted to vision. College students are no different. Now more than ever, students have a number of options when it comes to their time and energy, and they want to spend these resources on things that really matter. If the vision for your church is simply to attend a Sunday School Class or show up to your Sunday worship service, you will have very limited response. Develop a biblical vision and make it big!
4. Build a Relational Strategy. No matter your particular situation, one thing is for sure: relationships are the vehicle to use to cross the bridge to your destination. The great thing is that you don’t have to have a huge budget or a cool, college worship environment to accomplish this! Here are three phrases that can be used to guide this element.
- “Think home, not class” – Freshmen are detached from a home environment. Most will be living in a small dorm room or apartment. Many have not grown up in a stable home to begin with. On top of that, they are in a class every day of the week. They don’t need another class, they need people. This means that you need to craft your strategy to provide for interaction outside of a classroom environment. Whether this means trips, retreats, small groups meeting in homes, or just simple gatherings, form a strategy around ways to connect in “home-like” environments. Ninety percent of our college small groups meet in homes for this reason.
- “Think quality, not quantity” – You don’t have to have a big number to have a huge impact. Whatever the scale of your ministry, the true success will be determined by your ability to provide for biblical, mentor-type relationships infused with the truth of scripture. Whether you have two leaders or twenty, articulate what you want each leader to accomplish and hold one another accountable. Make scripture a non-negotiable of each one.
- “Think now, not later” – Aggressively pursue placing students in leadership positions in your church … now. Unapologetically encourage them to become church members, determine their gifts, and jump in. Don’t stop there. Focus their efforts on real needs in the world around them.
- Organizing an annual college move-in event for freshmen.
- Planning a college welcome week series of events.
- Utilizing social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
- Partnering with on-campus ministries.
- Follow-up quickly and personally with visitors.
Even if it’s small, it is essential that you initiate ways to connect with freshmen rather than waiting for them to come to you.
In order to build a bridge for college freshmen to become actively involved in your churches, you must be deliberate and intentional. These five qualities can assist us in the building process. Time to build!
Dan Reeves is College & Campus Teaching Pastor at the Journey Campus, a multi-site campus of Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro, AR. The church meets each Sunday in the Arkansas State University Student Union. Dan and his wife Veronica have partnered in college ministry for over 10 years.
For original post see absc.org.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Promoting Your Church Through The BCM
1. Place information in BCM publications/newsletters/e-newsletters for incoming freshmen about the church. The church may need to help with printing and or postage costs.
2. Participate in ministries sponsored by the BCM to kick off the fall semester. These may include picnics, dinner, Survival, scavenger hunts, etc…
3. Place information about your church on the website of the BCM.
4. Ask the BCM to provide your church with the names and contact information of first time visitors to the BCM. Provide follow up contact of the students and invite them to your church.
5. Participate in “Church Night” worship services of the BCM. Set up a table display with information about your church.
6. Recruit church members to help with dorm move ins on the campus.
7. Recruit church members to adopt an International student involved in the BCM ministry. The member(s) would have in their home, take them out to eat.
8. Attend Collegiate Week at Glorieta in August with the BCM.
9. Partner with the BCM in sponsoring and participating in a mission trip.
10. Publicize special events and ministries of your church through BCM emails, announcements, etc…
11. Provide the names of the high school graduates of your church to the BCM Direct of the college or university they will be attending.
12. Participate in regular meetings of all of the collegiate ministers of the local collegiate churches of the BCM and the BCM Director for fellowship, calendar planning, prayer, etc.
13. Participate in a “Collegiate Ministers Panel” at a BCM lunch or worship night.
14. Participate with State Collegiate Ministry Conferences of your State Convention. Some are in the fall, some are in the spring.
By: Steve Masters
Churches and Campus Based Collegiate Ministry-Roles and Cooperation
Baptist Collegiate Ministry is the ministry arm of the local and state churches to a campus. The BCM is not a church. The BCM is a religious organization whose purposes include: 1. Share Christ with students that do not know Him as Savior. 2. Provide opportunities for participating students to grow and mature in their faith in Jesus Christ. 3. Develop students as Christian leaders. 4. Provide opportunities for students to participate in local, state and national mission ministries. 5. Help students to stay or become involved in a local church.
There is much discussion today about college ministry. In some places, the discussion relates to how to do it better and deal with the strong response. In other places as finances decline, the talk is whether to do away with it or not. College ministry is necessary if we care about the future. Some would advocate doing away with campus based ministry and doing it solely out of churches. Others suggest that we need to plant churches on campuses and that is the only way to do it. In other situations, the campus based ministry is having to compete with the very local churches it is trying to help. Many of these tensions can be eased simply by appreciating the value of both church and campus-based ministries. Their differing roles allow more students to be reached and discipled. In fleshing out this partnership, several aspects need to be considered.
First, we must recognize that no simple answer fits all situations and locations. Those that suggest that college ministry should only be done out of churches almost always come of large churches or even mega-churches with considerable budget and staffing. This is not the norm. In many situations, if the campus based ministry were not there, there would be little or no intentional ministry with the local campus. Church based and campus based ministries really have different roles. The campus based ministry relates to a college administration, is involved in leadership development and often is able to provide specialized ministry to such groups as freshmen and international students. The campus based ministry is a convenient entry point for many students that would not attend a local church, at least in the beginning.
A huge role of the church based ministry is to help students to connect to, love and see the value of the local church. This cannot happen anywhere else. When students graduate from college and move into young adulthood, will they connect to a church? The church based ministry can have a huge role in that happening. The grads that have been in the total life of a church see its value. In some situations the church based ministry copies a successful campus based ministry. When this happens, it often results in the emphasis being placed on week night student only events. This does not connect students to the total life of the church and instill a “love for church”. The church based ministry needs to recognize this and work to see the students connect through the Sunday School, Sunday Morning Worship, etc.
Campus based ministries have the responsibility to train leaders for our churches of the future. Many church leaders received their first experience in serving and leading as a “BCM committee member or leader”. It is also the task of the campus based ministry to encourage and help local churches in their ministry to students. For churches with full or part-time staff this means it’s critical that the church based collegiate minister and the BCM director meet, plan, evaluate and work together to maximize their partnership and understand their different roles in the lives of students. The BCM based ministry provides the college ministry for the smaller churches that cannot provide one.
Some denominational leaders advocate doing campus based collegiate ministry at a local church. If only the “mega-church” provides a college ministry, should the college students from other churches move to that church?
One well known college church pastor has advocated the idea that students be active in the campus ministry their freshman and sophomore year and a local church their junior and senior years. This raises the question of who will be the role models and the leaders for the campus based ministry? In most situations, some students will lead out on campus and attend their college church. Others will simply attend some on-campus events and lead out in their church. Again, it is not a one size fits all answer. Both the church based and the campus based ministries should give consideration to when each schedules their events. Many have simply said, the church based ministries get Sundays and Wednesdays and the campus based take the other week day nights.
No one ministry can do it all. Church ministries can best help students connect to all generations and learn to love the church. Campus based ministries can best help students understand and deal with the transition to college life and see ways to minister on campus. In some places there are no local churches for college students and there the church on campus approach meets a need. But, in situations where there are local churches actively reaching out to students, to start a church on campus is to provide what is more likely an unhealthy competition.
No one ministry can do and be all. We need both church based and campus based ministries and we need leaders that see the value of both and work for the good health of both.
By Arliss Dickerson, Leadership Contract Worker
Thursday, October 21, 2010
How Churches Can Reach Freshmen Through The BCM
Being involved in the ministry of the campus based ministry by a commuter freshmen can also greatly help their church to reach the resident freshmen that have moved to the university to live in the dorm, an apartment, a fraternity, sorority house, etc.
The partnership of the BCM and the local church is at its best when these resident freshmen meet and get to know commuter freshmen that are involved in a local church. If the commuter freshmen from a church are not involved in the campus based ministry then their church loses representation, a voice, a touch, etc. to that student. The resident freshman will end up visiting and attending and joining the church where other college students meet, get to know and reach out to them at BCM ministries.
BCM ministry is not a church and has no desire to be so. One of the major goals of BCM is to help students stay or become involved in a local church. In order to do so in the most effective manner it’s important that local churches encourage their commuter students to be involved in the BCM to help them reach out to the new resident students. It’s also important they encourage their resident students, freshmen and upperclassmen to stay involved in the BCM after they have become involved in the local church. If upperclassmen from a church are involved in the BCM they will be able to reach out to freshmen in the BCM. BCM and church involvement is at it best when it is a “both and” and not an “either or”.
The BCM secures names of incoming freshmen in a variety of ways which includes: 1. The college or university admissions office 2. Local and state churches 3. Conferences such as Centrifuge, Missionfuge, World Changers, etc. 4. Orientations for freshmen. The BCM then contacts these students by telephone, newsletter, email and facebook to invite them to become involved in the BCM ministry and to either become or stay involved in a local church. If your church would like to help with this contacting of these incoming students then please contact your local BCM director. They would greatly appreciate your partnership in outreach.
As freshmen attend the BCM the name and contact information of these students is available for local church ministry follow-up by the BCM. If the student is not a Christian this provides a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel of Christ with them. If they are a believer the local church can invite them to become involved in their ministry.
It is important that the BCM and the local churches do all they can to reach out to freshmen during the first few weeks of the fall semester. However, it’s also important to remember that the reaching freshmen is not just limited to that period. Freshmen can be reached throughout the year.
Many freshmen are overwhelmed by all of the changes in their lives as the fall semester begins. As their lives begin to settle into a routine they may realize their need for spiritual growth through the BCM and or a local church. It’s important the local church ministry realizes this and continues to reach out to students throughout the school year. In situations where there are multiple collegiate churches of the BCM it may be November, December or even the second semester before they choose a local church to be involved in.
Involvement in the BCM ministries, events and conferences by a collegiate minister of a local church can greatly help the spiritual growth of BCM students from all the local churches and not just the church of the collegiate minister. In this case the collegiate minister develops relationships with, provides spiritual leadership and examples to students that don’t and may not ever attend their church. This enriches the unity and community of the BCM and its sponsoring churches and benefits students in their growth in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
By: Steve Masters, BCM Director at LSU
Monday, April 26, 2010
The Top 10 Mistakes Churches Make When Reaching Out to the Campus
10) Relying too heavily upon the campus ministry / minister – Often, campus ministers are approached by churches that want to reach out to the campus. While most ministers are excited by the prospect of volunteers helping to pick up some of the load, it is easy for churches to unintentionally add to the minister’s work load, causing them to have to sacrifice other important aspects of the ministry. Want to reach out to college students and do so effectively? Start by bringing your ideas to the table along with a willingness to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. The campus can be one of the closest mission trips that your church will ever take.
9) Not being aware of the rules – Every campus has unique policies set in place regarding everything from on-campus promotions (flyers and posters) to off-campus groups reserving space. Be sure to talk with the campus minister about the specifics of every school. Also, be flexible and understand that the minister’s primary responsibility is to uphold the rules of the school. After all, they have to deal with school administration long after a church leaves.
8) Not looking at the campus context – College students have changed a lot, even in the past five years. Before deciding on the type of outreach project that you want to do, be sure to do a little bit of research. Spend time talking to the campus minister to learn about the needs of the students and the things that they are passionate about. Also, every college is different. Just because something worked on one campus doesn’t mean that it will work on another. Be willing to do your homework before settling on an outreach idea.
7) Not looking at the campus calendar – Churches operate on an entirely different calendar than the universities do. Be mindful of test weeks. Before settling on any date, check out the campus calendars found on the school’s website. Check both the academic calendar, as well as the campus activities calendar. The campus minister can give you direction on this as well. One of the biggest mistakes that churches make is not taking into consideration simple things like the students’ busy seasons.
6) Not being true to your church’s culture – This generation longs for authenticity. They know that groups see them as an easy target, and because of that, they are very jaded and see right through anything less than absolute sincerity. Churches often mistakenly think that they have to make themselves something they aren’t in order to appeal to collegiates. The best way for a church to impact a campus is to ask: 1) What is the campus culture? 2) What is our church culture? 3) Where do they overlap?
5) Expecting students to come to you – While it makes sense that a church would want to host an event at their facility, students often aren’t willing to participate in any event that is held in a facility that they see as being affiliated with a religious organization. Even if the event is neutral and not spiritual in any way, their opinions on Christianity and their fear of “the bait and switch” keep them away. The other downside to programming off-campus is a reality that is easily forgotten – many students don’t have cars. Consider moving your event to an on-campus space. Most campus ministries are willing to help secure the necessary reservations.
4) Thinking that “free” gets a crowd – Many times, churches think that simply offering something free is the key to winning over college students and drawing them to an event. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Students are so used to groups using giveaways as a marketing ploy that they have become somewhat immune to them. “Free” is still an added plus, but it cannot be counted on as the primary drawing point.
3) Taking a “shotgun” approach rather than a “sniper” one – Strategy will be key in effectively engaging a campus. While you will certainly need to utilize mass marketing opportunities, relationships will be vital to your event’s success. When planning, begin by looking at your immediate context. Consider, “What connections do our students have with other groups on campus?” Utilize them as point people in promoting the event to their peers. Encourage them to look beyond even their friends and plan ways that they can personally represent your event to the other student organizations they are a part of, their residence hall, or their department. Have a big enough vision to seek other student groups to partner with you and the campus ministry to host the event. While the vision for the event grows by taking this approach, the marketing of the event becomes more focused and more strategic. And, when other student groups are committed to and invested in an event, they are more likely to help you in promoting the event to their circles of influence. The fact is: people join people, not programs. Strategic use of natural relationships and partnerships is a must-do.
2) Thinking that bigger equals better – It will be easy to want to gauge your event’s success by the number of students who attend. However, you must remember that in today’s culture, students are fickle. Even university administrators have commented on this generation’s lack of follow through and tendency to change their mind at the last minute, based on whether or not a “better opportunity” came about. While this can be a little disheartening at first, never forget that every student you impact is one more than your church was ministering to before the event. Learn to celebrate even the few.
1) Thinking that once in a while is good enough – The biggest mistake that churches make when trying to reach out to the campus is thinking that once in a while is good enough. What is the biggest test of a church’s heart for college students? Their willingness to invest in the campus on a regular basis. Relationships with college students must be nurtured, and that takes time. Students will never believe that you care about them if you are only willing to be a part of their lives on “special event” days. Whether it’s taking students to lunch or coffee on campus or being open to attending campus ministry events, even when your church has no role in the program, be committed to the campus. Work with the campus minister to find good opportunities to engage students in settings that are natural for them. Let 1 Thessalonians 2:8 drive your approach to the campus – seek not only to share the Gospel with them, but your life as well.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
7 Deadly Sins of College Sunday School
Providing a quality Sunday School experience for college students can be one of the most challenging ventures in the life of a church. It can also be one of the experiences that helps lead your church to revival and to a new level of discipleship and commitment to Christ. As you work and pray to create a Sunday School time that engages students and helps them learn to be passionate about God and His Word, there are some missteps that you can make that will limit the effectiveness of your time to
1. LECTURE – Today’s generation of students is an interactive one. They have grown up in a time of open discussion and they truly value opportunities to discover what they believe through discussion. The preferred style of learning for the vast majority of today’s students is discussion. They want a time where they can ask questions and learn from not only the “teacherÃ?Â¢?? but also each other. Using lecture as your primary teaching method kills that spirit. Lecture does not interest them and they find it dull! Even if the Biblical lessons that you are teaching are important, students will check out if the material is presented in lecture format. Consider adding discussion and small group interaction to your teaching time. Often, college Sunday School leaders are intimidated by the types of questions that students are asking. They tend to ask ultimate questions. By ultimate, I mean questions dealing with BIG issues such as the problems of evil and a loving God; predestination versus free will; knowing and living God’s will and more. These are certainly not easy questions. Theologians and Christians have struggled for centuries to find answers for some of the questions that they will ask. Do not be afraid to allow them the opportunity to ask these questions. Allowing them to ask questions allows you as the leader to:
-Understand where they are in their lives with Christ
-Have an opportunity to follow up with them about their questions at another time
-See a place where you and the student can grow in your knowledge of God
-Help the students feel important
-Develop future Bible studies that address their heartfelt needs
2. INCONSISTENCY – Regardless of what students tell you, they are creatures of habit. They love reliability and stability. In conversation with students you will be convinced that this is not true, but it is. They love fun, spontaneity, and new ideas, but they also crave some stability and consistency in their lives. Students of today live at a breakneck pace. Between classes, work, volunteer hours, internships, a culture that tells them that more is always better, and an advertising industry that pushes them to consume more and more, they are a pushed generation. Providing a consistent time for them on Sunday morning, whether they consistently take advantage of it or not, if reassuring to many students. They will come because they know that you are there for them.
3. PASSIONLESS TEACHING – Students crave models of the Christian life that are truly living a life for Christ. They are looking for a cause and for people that are working and living for the cause of Christ. They will not be a part of a Sunday School time that only goes through the motions. Honestly, do you enjoy meetings where people are just there because they are supposed to be? Neither do I. Inject some passion into your teaching. If that means that you stray away from the quarterly Sunday School curriculum from time to time….IT IS OKAY. Let students know what you care about, what you struggle with, the lessons that God is teaching you. They will identify with you and will learn that the Christian life has challenges and struggles and that Christ will help us with those dark and hard times in our lives.
4. THE ONE (WO)MAN SHOW – Sometimes as leaders, we fool ourselves into believing that we are the only ones that can lead the Sunday School time. We tell ourselves lies such as: no one will help me, students are terrible teachers, I know more of the Bible than the students. Encourage students to lead out through teaching Sunday School. It may intimidate them. It may frighten them. It may also bless them. God has given many people (including college students) within the church the gift of teaching. Help them discover that gift and let it be affirmed. Even if the time does not go very well, the student will discover that their gifts do not lie in teaching and they can begin to look elsewhere for their place of service. Of course, you will want to coach students as they prepare. Be careful to not equate a lack of experience with a lack of talent or gifting. In the end, STUDENTS LISTEN TO STUDENTS.
5. KEEPING SUNDAY SCHOOL ON SUNDAY MORNING ONLY – As Christians, we have a long tradition of Sunday School. For us Sunday School has been a time on Sunday morning just before church and it will stay that way. Originally, the purpose of Sunday School was to provide a safe way to reach out to non-Christians and to be a gateway for them into the church. Unfortunately, in some situations, Sunday School has become a sacred cow. You know what a sacred cow is: something that used to help us, but now only stands in our way and impedes progress. Don’t read what I am not writing here. In many places, traditional Sunday School is still a great tool that is working well. In others (perhaps in your situation) it is a sacred cow. It’s not working. It should be killed and made into burgers, but it is too holy to do away with. If the purpose of Sunday School is to provide a safe place where students can bring non-Christian friends and introduce them to God’s Word and Christians, and that purpose cannot be fulfilled in your area on Sunday morning in a church building, then move your college Sunday School. Move it to a restaurant, move it to Sunday night, move it to a home, or move it to your campus.
6. BEING BORING – Ask yourself this question, “Was Jesus boring?Ã?Â¢?? No really, do you believe that Jesus was boring! Hardly! In fact, Jesus was never boring. He challenged, he took on the Pharisees, he asked tough questions, and showed amazing compassion. The Christian life was never intended to be boring especially when we are learning about Christ. Take some time to plan new and creative ways to teach about Jesus during your Sunday School hour. Use experiential learning. Take students places during Sunday School, setup a phone conversation with a missionary during your time, and look for interesting ways to communicate the lesson. Look for ways to use humor to teach. Jesus used humor.
7. NOT HAVING A CAUSE – Students want to do something for God. They don’t just want to learn about God. They want to experience God and work on His behalf for His kingdom. They want to help people find Christ. Share Christ’s cause with them and give them specific ways that they can be involved. Yes, they are limited in time and money, but they are not limited in heart and they will surprise you with their capacity to do, give, and go in Jesus’ name and for His sake.
Leading collegiate Sunday School IS challenging. It takes time, effort, and perseverance, but you can be assured that your investment is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 states, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." (NLT)