This week’s Fridea for college ministers may require some warming up; for many of us, it won’t be an idea that we immediately think is necessary or “spiritual enough” as hard-working Christian ministers helping disciple our students in the Way.
However, since it’s the holiday and many might not get around to reading this anytime soon, anyway, I’ll post the idea here. Tomorrow or Sunday I should be able to post the ideas behind the idea.
[A full list of Frideas is linked on the first Fridea post.]
This week’s Fridea: Think about how you can better relate your ministry to the “public” that directly oversees and supports it. In other words, step up your PR among church members, within the association/presbytery/council, or with other constituents of your college ministry.
Like I said, some of you won’t first and foremost want to be in the “Public Relations” business. I’ll adddress that tomorrow.
But I imagine we can all recognize how undervalued Collegiate Ministry tends to be. And that can’t all be everybody else’s fault, can it? Couldn’t we college ministers do a better job of informing those around us about exactly how their dollars and volunteers and prayers and other support are working to further God’s Kingdom?
So when you have the chance, why not take some steps to create stronger relations with your ministry’s “public” (stonger R with your P)? Here are some ideas on both the what and the how of college ministry PR:
- Publicly display your impacted people. In any way possible, try to put pictures of past events – and especially the students involved – before your constituents. This is probably easiest in a church (bulletin boards, slide shows before the service, bulletin, etc.). But if you’re a campus-based ministry or a Christian college, you could send out a newsletter, right? What other methods can you use in your unique context?
- Present, present, present. Any chance you get, take the time to share with your “public” what’s going on in your college ministry. This can be in a large group setting (such as a church worship service), a small group (such as a Sunday school class or local associational meeting), or one-on-one. But get the word out! Do people know the awesome ways your ministry is impacting students? Sadly, college ministry may be the only segment of your organization who needs someone to highlight its work to others. But don’t let that stop you!
- Show them in person. As often as you can, bring your public to what you’re doing. That doesn’t mean local pastors have to speak at every meeting or parents need to come to your all-night parties. But as much as you can, let your public see the events that will most excite them. And when they’re around, be sure to “narrate” for them to help open their eyes to the amazing things going on, even in seemingly “basic” Collegiate Ministry events.
- Get the news out. Everybody loves a good story. But everybody ALSO loves good stories that involve them that others hear about! What if you got the local newspaper (or TV news) to cover one of your “big events”? Do you think your own constituents would be pleased? What if you wrote an article detailing a particular ministry success and sent it to your denominational news outlet? Do you think your local public would enjoy seeing one of “their” ministries highlighted in that way?
- Speak their language (consider your audience). When you do have opportunities to share your ministry, don’t talk about it as though you’re talking with a bunch of college ministers. Relate the impact of your ministry to the specific things that particular “public” cares about. That means, for instance, they’ll want to see pictures of their kids in that newsletter or on that bulletin board. Or if you’re talking to a missions committee, for example, be sure to include examples of college students on mission!
- Don’t assume they know. You might be amazed at how your own church congregation or local community has no idea of what’s happening in your college group. That can change, though, but you’ve got to be willing to tell that story in every way possible. What if you actually sent your pastor or Christian college president a monthly email detailing your work? What if you ate lunch with every member of your association at least every 2 months? What if your state convention was regularly bombarded with “updates” from all the college ministries in the state? Though they may be slightly annoyed at the information, they also might hear it. Then what might change?
I know this “tooting your own horn” can feel a little awkward. But the truth is you’re simply telling stories of what God Himself is doing within your ministry. Tell those stories far and wide – and certainly not only to your own personal “public.” But make sure you include that local audience, as well, because it will help those who support you understand why they should continue to do so.
Collegiate Ministry is a ministry field that needs to be promoted. Right now, we’re the ones that have to talk it up, to tell why this group of amazing people should receive our investment, energies, and passion.
Written from Alpharetta, GA