You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘for using adult volunteers’ category.

Pulled this in from a past post, but it could be a great time of year to work on this.

Whether you’re a church-based college minister or not, you have access not only to the leaders of your church home, but those in all the other churches in your town.

And one group of leaders that could particularly impact many of your students is the Executive Pastors.

XPs have become quite high-profile church leaders in the last decade. And I love that numerous churches out there have seen fit to bring on a “churchwide strategist,” which seems to be the role many of them play. (And nowadays, some XPs have a bit more strategically narrow orientation.)

And while there may be few (if any) of your students who will ever provide that role for a church, there are many of your students who are wired by God for strategy, project management, leading alongside (rather than from out front), serving behind the scenes, or some of the other ways Exec Pastors traditionally serve.

And all of them need to learn about leadership.

Not only that, but an Exec Pastor may very well be able to teach on things like time management, self-management, and learning.

If it isn’t clear by now, I think it’s good for us to look among the church leaders in our town for potential teachers, mentors, and role models. Again, that’s whether a college minister serves at a church, in a parachurch or denominational capacity, at a Christian school, and so on.

And who knows? For some student in your ministry, such an encounter might just awaken them to an amazing call for future ministry themselves.

This is an old Fridea that hasn’t lost its steam – with a month to prepare…

October 31st is “celebrated” differently campus-to-campus, and many schools may not see much when it comes to the nearby weekend or the night of Halloween (this year it’s on a Tuesday, FYI). But other schools see quite a bit of Halloween-inspired activity – it may be the moment when everybody drinks, or when the costumes come out (and not unto holiness), or when debauchery is otherwise at its worst.

So my Fridea and encouragement this week is to respond as God leads you and your ministry. Five ways you could do just that:

  1. View what takes place, like a missionary would/should. Let it break your heart. Let it open your eyes and your students’ – and especially your student leaders’ – eyes. Let God use what’s actually happening – not just what you assume is happening – to provide ministry ideas for the weeks to come. (I’ve spent some time praying while I drive through the “scene” in a campus area before, and it definitely broke my heart.)
  2. Serve students. Like Spring Break mission trips or finals week, your campus might respond well to free midnight pancakes or van rides. Maybe you need to create an “alternative Halloween” that’s a blast… without the debauchery. Yes, you’ll need to think through what’s best (and what’s in fact “enabling”), but it’s worth considering how you can serve – and build relational bridges to – students.
  3. Think long and hard about how you can best serve, impact, and encounter your campus at the Halloweens to come. This means getting students together to brainstorm, talking to other college ministers, asking advice from your overseers, etc.
  4. Pray. Pray for your campus, even that very weekend or Halloween night. This might be a night for all-night prayer, or it might be something you intercede about regularly, leading up to Halloween.
  5. Teach. The issues raised by Halloween – and not just the occult issues, though those are real, too – are worth discipling students about, right? Why shouldn’t a girl “dress to impress”? Why wouldn’t a college student drink to excess occasionally? What’s so wrong with a night or weekend of debauchery? How can students serve their peers when they’re wrapped up in these things? Have you taught your students about all those issues that will come up during this one season?

You’re likely in the middle of – or just past – some critical junctures in your college ministry. Freshman recruiting. Welcome party. Small groups launch. First Large Group Meeting. Fall retreat might have happened, or might be coming up. And so on.

If you’re anything like me, “evaluation” gets often nudged out in favor of the next thing that needs attention. But what if you made yourself – or maybe better yet, appointed a student to – organize a debriefing time for each of these. Even “debriefing time” can be relative – maybe it’s an email chain discussing “stop/start/continue” or “good/bad/ugly.” Or better, a quick lunch with key students and staff (everybody’s got time to eat!).

Simple moves like this help a college ministry actually improve in these critical junctures. For all the planning that went into that big event, isn’t it worth a debrief? And you don’t want to trust your recollections the next time you’ll be planning it… that’s how status quo largely gets maintained, even when we think we’re improving year after year.

What if every student who came through your door was important to you until they landed in any college ministry?

This will look different based on context, but it’s an idea: For whatever follow-up you do through student leaders or staff, what if you focused on not only “recruiting” students to your ministry, but also pushing them to find somewhere to land even if it’s not your ministry?

This doesn’t have to be pushy, and it certainly won’t work 100% of the time. But if your student leaders and staff know that this is the ultimate goal, it might still make a difference in how (and how long) you follow up with students.

An oldie but goodie – and there’s good room to do this in the summer if students are around.

When’s the last time you took a young collegiate couple on a double date with you and your wife?

That might seem like an awkward idea – and no doubt there would be some awkwardness – but I can’t think of a better way to call college students to date well… and marry well, too. (If you’ve got adult volunteers or want to recruit some – even just for this – that could be really great too.)

Whether you’re married or not, I hope college students get to hang out at your house on occasion. I hope they see you in your “work life,” too, even if that’s simply more college ministry work. I hope they rub shoulders with you in your other ministry habitats, too – like your church, your neighborhood, and your city.

Letting students into our lives is a chance to show them what they should aspire to – as adults (whatever our age happens to be), as spouses, as family men and family women, as employees, as church members. And even, right now, as really great dates.

Hopefully, during the school year, news of a major event in a student’s life would make its way to student leaders and/or staff in your college ministry. But what about this summer?

That’s a great assessment for just how well you’ve grown the “family” feel. Would a student whose dad was sick reach out? What about a student who lost their job – or who landed a fantastic job for post-graduation? Would you know if a student led someone to the Lord… or would anyone else in the college ministry know? What if a student got engaged? If they failed a summer school course – or aced it? If they got hurt or landed in the hospital? Or if a student realized they weren’t able to return to school in the fall?

Maybe a college minister shouldn’t settle for this threshold of “major events”; maybe a true family would know a lot more about each other – at least at the level of small groups or other “intimate community” structures. But this is a start at an evaluation.

If every student who returns in the fall needs to catch everyone up on their lives, then there might be room to improve the “community” aspect of your campus ministry. And even now, a little reach-out to students (or through student leaders) couldn’t hurt.

Earlier this month, I offered an idea for college ministries’ large group gatherings: a “monologue” of sorts, chatting through the issues of the day.

Today’s Fridea offers a spin on that idea (and mostly comes from the fact that I love ESPN’s Around the Horn).

What if – weekly or occasionally – you offered a brief panel discussion on current events of the day? You may already use a panel on occasion, discussing Dating or Finding a church after college or Deciding about joining a sorority or fraternity. But couldn’t you do something similar for current events? What if trusted local Christian leaders – or even some of your student leaders – discussed/debated how they’re processing what’s taking place in the world (or in the city, or on campus).

The point – probably – wouldn’t be so much to argue a certain point of view, as much as to showcase how Christians are viewing “hot topics” through a Christian lens. (As long as everyone keeps this mission primary, it will go well.) Depending on the wisdom of your panel members and the topic under discussion, a panel could be as formulaic or as freewheeling as you want it to be. Anywhere on that spectrum, your students will get a view of how they too should process everything through a biblical worldview – even if that occasionally means mature believers still differ on their conclusions.

And don’t miss how I started this idea. While some panels could indeed take your entire Large Group Meeting, my original notion was akin to the “monologue” (of sorts) from a few weeks ago. This is something that many of your meetings could provide for a few minutes – and it might best hit its stated goal in that timeframe, anyway. That format – a 5-minute panel – could also be used on video (whether or not you did this in the Large Group Meeting at all!).

How do you say No to potential leaders… or to present leaders/volunteers who need to be “fired”?

College ministers realize that No can be a great discipleship moment. It’s vital – for the campus ministry, yes, but also for the interested leader or volunteer – to hear No when it’s necessary.

But one principle of No-saying is that elongating the No can sometimes add to the discipleship process. And I don’t mean simply saying “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

Sometimes a leader has to say an immediate No, removing a bad leader or simply shooting straight with a potential leader. But other times, you can take that same student on a discipleship journey that makes it less painful for you and for them, as well as deepening the discipleship you have with them.

Here are some ways to “elongate a No”:

  • In the case of a present leader/volunteer, sometimes you can meet with a student multiple times rather than just once, helping them transition out (or to another role) via what feels a little more like mutual decision. That doesn’t mean you don’t stick to your guns if a No is really needed and they don’t agree. But unless the ministry’s in jeopardy, a present volunteer or student leader has the chance here to process the issues and not just the “rejection.”
  • The same goes for anyone who steps up to lead for the first time. Treat their idea (that they should lead) like you would a big idea for a new event: Hear them out, ask probing questions, make them process related ideas (and Scriptures about leadership), etc. While this may not be as simple if you’ve got a scheduled influx of leaders once a year (for instance), even in that case, you might be able to offer honesty and transparency as you work through someone’s leadership offer with them.
  • Offer Leadership Training for potential leaders before they begin applying for leadership roles. At worst, you’ve gained some mutual language for talking about why a No might be right (for now). They might also self-select out of the leadership pipeline for now.
  • An application process that goes well beyond just asking for name and contact info can accomplish something similar. Ask hard questions, and at least you’ll be allowing potential leaders the chance to process the very reasons you might eventually need to give them for a No. Or, again, they might self-select out – and be better because of the process.
  • Elongating the No may simply involve softening the No, too… by offering this individual another way to contribute or even move toward leadership. That might include a leadership class, apprenticing under a leader, or otherwise contributing and staying nearby for more discipleship.

“Adopt-a-student” programs aren’t unusual within church-based college ministries, but even for those guys it’s an idea definitely worth spending a Fridea on… and it’s worth every other branch of college ministry considering how they, too, can connect students with individual families.

The idea, if you’re unfamiliar, is for a church family to “adopt” a student – likely for at least a school year. This means (at least) occasional meals in their home but often can mean service both ways – babysitting by the student, an opportunity for the student to do laundry, etc. This is one of those activities where a little training goes a long way – and it’s wise to train the students as well as the adults.

But it’s the practical beauty that you’ll want to focus on. How awesome it is to get college students around babies and soccer games and family tables! Let alone the impact on the families (though it can be substantial) – imagine the blessing for your students in seeing a strong home in action, driving “home” all that you’ve been teaching about marriage and adulting and career and conflict and probably several other things. These are potential mentors, definite role models, accomplices as you try to draw students outside of their own little worlds.

As best you can, get your students a family!

One technique that other branches of college ministry can learn from church-based ministry is the use of adult volunteers.

It’s extremely rare (at least in my experience) to hear of campus-based or institutional college ministries “importing” local Christian adults. Of course, institutional ministries (those within Christian colleges) may very well use faculty from the rest of the college, which covers a lot of the bases here.

In the final branch, collegiate churches, the presence of non-staff adults largely depends on how heterogeneous the congregation is. Some of these ministries are made up of many adults; others are nearly entirely student-drawing (except for staff members).

(I know of at least one collegiate church, on the other hand, that imported adults from other campuses of this multi-site church. They asked for a yearlong commitment. Cool idea.)

And while I’m at it, it’s worth noting that plenty of church-based college ministries likely don’t use adult volunteers (or don’t use many). But in general, they’re far more likely to than the other branches.

So caveats aside, this is an area worth exploring for any and all college ministries. One of the easiest objections to the work of college ministry is its lack of intergenerational connections. What’s more, it’s clear this generation of students is interested in learning from those of older generations. And whether they’re interested or not… they need to hear from them. And they need to hear from more than just their college ministry’s staff (and probably from people older than their college ministry’s staff, too.)

Sure, pulling adults into your ministry to

  • lead small groups
  • teach
  • mentor ministry teams or simply participate in them
  • invite students into their own lives and homes
  • disciple students
  • or simply connect with students over time, organically, in the context of your Large Group Meetings or other events

can be messy. It can be awkward. And certainly not all adults are cut out for this.

But some are. It’s worth pulling them in.

Enter your email address to get new posts by email.

Welcome to Exploring College Ministry

After ministering to college students for 8 years, I've spent the last 6 years trying to help push our whole field forward. This meant, among other things, a yearlong road trip, an e-book (Reaching the Campus Tribes), exploring 250+ campuses, consulting, writing, speaking, and more. I love any opportunity to serve college ministers or others who want to reach college students better. To learn more, explore the header links or the tools below.

Categories

Twitter

Posts from the Past