sit down, but don’t shut up (a fridea)

One of the easiest ways to deepen your understanding of college ministry is to interview a fellow college minister about their ministry. Not only does a sit-down clue you in about the depths of somebody else’s organization, but I guarantee it will get you thinking more deeply about your own.

So, especially as schedules are (usually) a little looser in the summer, that’s this week’s Fridea. As always, a full list of Frideas is linked on the first Fridea post.

Obviously, this is something I’ve done ALL YEAR LONG. So I’m kind of a fan of directed collaboration. And I’ve gotten better at it as I’ve gone! So I figured I would provide some of the questions I’ve found helpful this year (so you don’t find yourself sitting in stunned silence over lunch with that college minister!).

After the list, I’ll give a few more thoughts on why this is a good idea.

You could ask about…

  • Their personal background, ministry training, ministry background
  • The ministry’s “basics” – the programs, events, how many people they have, how long they have been there, etc. (Hopefully you have already devoured the info on their ministry web site before the “interview.”)
  • Ministry history: Even before they started, what is the history of the college ministry?
  • The “student path” within their ministry: How new students tend to connect with the ministry (the “front doors”), and then what opportunities (additional worship services, discipleship, small groups, service teams, leadership, etc.) are available as students “move through” the ministry.
  • Best Practices: The things they do regularly or have done that work best!
  • Best Characteristics: What areas do they feel their ministry is particular strong in? What is their ministry’s “niche” among the ministries in town?
  • Most Creative: The most creative things they do or have done in college ministry (either specific events or ongoing ideas).
  • Any weaknesses of their ministry they’re hoping to work on.
  • “Hopes and dreams” for the ministry: both specific things they’ll be working on in the coming months, and also “big dreams” for the coming years they would be really excited to accomplish.
  • Resources: What are the specific resources (books, individual people, personal experiences, other ministries, etc.) that have impacted the way they view/do college ministry?
  • Best Advice: Their personal points of advice they would give to a beginning college minister.
  • Anything else! Pray about it, think it through, and ask some creative, deep questions!

I know, I know; you’ve thought about sitting down with fellow ministers. Or maybe you’ve had some sit-downs, some lunches, some prayer times. That’s awesome.

But have you ever actually walked through a series of ministry questions with a fellow college minister? (If you need to give ’em a reason, just tell them I told you to! And you can always offer to let them do the same!)

Can’t you imagine a certain perspective-widening that might occur if you dove unabashedly into the depths of somebody else’s ministry thoughts? If you heard about their smart little tweaks? If you discussed their “Best Practices”? If you asked deep questions, and got deep answers?

It would be mental exercise for you (and them), and you would probably learn some new things to try – and realize a few things you don’t think are very good ideas, too!

Depending on your situation and your relationship with local ministers, you may or may not be able to do this with one of them; in that case, find somebody at a different campus or in a different city.

But maybe you could do this with one of the locals? There is certainly something unifying about showing your interest in a buddy’s ministry philosophies, background, and ideas.

One last tip: I have asked each of those questions at least a few times this year, probably. But my #1 tack has been to “follow the interview” wherever it goes, instead of making sure I can check off specific questions on my list. That means I’ll pick up on specific things the college minister says, or specific unique things about their ministry I’ve noticed from the web page or have heard about. This can be far more helpful – in some cases – than just asking each minister the exact same list of questions.

Have fun!

Written from some town – I’m not quite sure – outside Searcy, Arkansas.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: a quick smattering of summer frideas « Exploring College Ministry blog (daily notes about our field)

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