Sunday, June 10, 2012

This Website Has Moved!


You can access my new website here: www.gospelcenteredcollegeministry.com


Thank you readers for subscribing to this blog and thank you Blogger for providing me a free blogging platform for over 4 years. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5 Ways to Engage Campus Culture



Those who reject culture will have no influential leverage in the components of your campus that need Christ the most.

So how do we engage our campuses?


     1.     Read more than the just the Bible, listen to more than just Christian radio, read more than just Christian news, and watch more than just Christian TV. Get to know what informational outlets influence collegians!
      
      2.     Listen to those students who have different worldviews than you in order to form redemptive relationships and to understand the variety of worldviews that exists on the college campus.
      
      3.     Sounds cliché, but be authentic and candid with students without being scared of the messy conversations that cause uneasiness.
  
      4.     Beware of reducing the beauty and glory of the Gospel to a political voting block and/or behavioral modification. Not only does this strip the fundamental meaning of the Gospel, it polarizes and pushes non-Christians away from Christianity in general. No one wants to worship a cosmic political bully
    
      5.     Know your campus' Sociological and Demographical information. Nothing communicates that you care and love your campus more than when you know the small details about your campus. This means that it’s important to be visible on campus to students, faculty, staff, coaches etc…

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 Reasons Why BCM is NOT and Should NOT be A "Thing of the Past"


        

         1.     The BCM is under the auspices of All SBC churches not just one local church.

Denominational entities like the BCM have and will keep the primacy of the church both front and center because it’s our goal to funnel students into the local church that best fits each student’s spiritual needs. However, we don’t just represent one church, but rather, all SBC churches that care for collegians.

Some may say the BCM model is antiquated and we should just plant churches on campuses. There are a variety of ecclesiological concerns with this mode of reaching collegians. Some include:
a.     Most campus churches don’t have the same on campus freedoms and access to student info that student organizations do.
b.     Campus church is a transitional church, so what does that look like financially? What do the church leadership and polity look like?
c.      Is campus church an accurate depiction of what church looks like after college?
d.     Are Campus churches biblically multigenerational?
e.     Etc…

NOTE: As the BCM, we’ve empowered church planting through sending NAMB missionaries to help church planting, giving money to church planters, and partnering with church planters. I love church planting and will continue to support church planting with as many resources as I can muster.

We have to understand the value of both church and campus ministries as a means to make disciples.

        2.     Making Disciples and The Great Commission is Not Limited to Church Planting

There is a strong sentiment in the SBC world namely in the GCR movement that to make disciples of all nations is to plant churches; this is true. However, what comes across is that church planting is the exclusive method of making disciples at the expense of other denominational entities.  Planting churches is a biblical and a strategic method of making disciples, but not at the expense of other entities that are currently working synergistically with the church to make disciples.

       3.     The BCM has Organizational Leverage on Campus that Cannot be Matched by Local Churches.

 As a student organization, there are a variety of freedoms and access you will have on campus that churches just don’t have. Sure, churches can gather a handful of students and begin an organization on campus. However, that organization only represents one local church, not all SBC churches.  Put differently, the BCM can operate as a uniting force for associational and biblical unity while having important access to campus life.

       4.     The BCM Resources All Local Churches

 Whether it’s D-Nows, Interns, or Church Volunteers, we see ourselves as a resource to all local churches and we send students that direction because it’s our call to do so.

       5.     The BCM Provides all Local Churches a Strategic Location to Reach Collegians
 
  The BCM should allow all local ministers to have access to students and to it’s programming through creating opportunities for all churches to promote to and reach out to students.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

5 Reasons You Should Write Your Ministry Curriculum




There’s a wide variety of biblically centered and resourceful curriculums for ministries including topical studies from Lifeway’s Threads to Inductive studies from Precept Ministries etc...  I would suggest getting your hands on all of the resources humanly possible in order to pick and choose for your tailor made resource.

I believe there are 5 strong reasons you should create your own ministry curriculum.

          1.     You understand your students more than anyone else.

Whereas there are people who are much more trained in the art of writing and understanding generational worldview, they don’t understand the specific needs of your students. Each small group has a different dynamic with different struggles that demands a specific approach.

  
           2.     Teaching your curriculum to leaders is much easier than teaching someone else’s curriculum.

Oftentimes when I speak at a church D-Now, they will send me 65 pages of confusing curriculum; when I ask questions about it, they usually don’t know. If leaders don’t understand the curriculum, how do we expect students to understand? What better way to understand a curriculum than write it? Writing a curriculum creates ownership that allows you to answer any questions future leaders may ask about the curriculum.


             3.     Curriculum making will stretch you in spiritually healthy ways.

Creating a curriculum demands lots of biblical, cultural, and other educational research. Oftentimes, the month of May in college ministry is the most conducive time for curriculum creation.

             4.     You can continually keep your curriculum culturally updated.

We live in a cultural world that literally changes overnight. Tailor made curriculum can be easily tweaked as you read the latest statistical update on your Twitter feed.

             5.     You understand the Philosophy and Strategy of your ministry more than anyone else.

A couple years ago, I created our Freshmen Bible Study curriculum; after finding the best curriculum structure, it took 2 weeks to gather my information, it took me an additional week or so to design the layout and publish. I wanted this to be a resource tailored for our allotted time schedule and needs of our freshmen. Consequently, our freshmen ministry was completely streamlined with the rest of our ministry. The only ministry that understands your ministry strategy is your ministry; plant seeds of your strategy through all curriculums. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Value of Listening to Those Outside the Christian Faith

As you can see from Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons research in the book "unChristian: What a new Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why it Matters", most Christians don’t create a positive perception of Christianity to those outside the faith. You’ve heard it said that most people know us for what we are against rather than what we are for; this if oftentimes true.

There are two primary questions that Christian ministries must answer in light of this data.

1. How should the philosophy of ministry change due to the perceptions of those outside the faith?
2. How can ministries leverage this data in order to be more missional in its ministry approach? 


Listening to those on the outside allows us to create a more conducive environment to teach the gospel in a more innovative and compelling ways. Oftentimes, we only implement programs, messages, and ministry environments that are tailored for those inside the faith; being only insider focused not only fails to reach outsiders, but creates negative perceptions of Christianity as well. Consequently, much of Christianity has become ritualistic & institutional leading to the staggering statistics above.

Ministries who listen to outsiders are typically the largest and fastest growing because the institutional Church has lost market share through creating an impotent holy huddle that's known for being far too political than Jesus ever was.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

10 Stupid Statements You Should Never Use When Someone Dies



There are only a couple situations in life that really amp me up; one of them being untactful statements used at funerals. Unfortunately, these are all too common and we all have one or two to share to add to the list. He are some that I’ve heard personally and overheard in the funeral home.

I was tempted to add my commentary after each one, but I’m afraid that I may offend someone, so I’ll leave the commentary up to you.

     1.     God needed her more than we did.
     2.     Be strong because everything happens for a reason.
     3.     I know how you feel, let me tell you about when I was in your shoes.
     4.     Don’t cry, it was his time to go.
     5.     God needed another angel in heaven. 
     6.     You have to move on with your life.
     7.     You wouldn’t want to be selfish by keeping him here with you?
     8.     Time will heal your wounds and you’ll eventually get over it.
     9.     God will never give you more than you can handle.
    10.  He’s fishing on the banks of glory with your grandfather.

Really… are these the only statements people can come up with for someone who has lost a loved one? At least use a theologically sound statement if you do try and provide comforting words.

If you have nothing better to say, it may be best to show empathy through giving them a hug, taking them food, praying for them, listening to their hurts, and/or simply giving condolences. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Process vs. Program Driven College Ministry

I find it intriguing to observe the wide variety models of college ministry throughout the country. Some large and others small, but the primary difference is process vs. program driven. Which is the biblical model? Which model do you subscribe? Process driven ministry is the missional and biblical model, but it doesn't mean that programs are neglected. Program evaluation is essential because program without evaluation will lead to stagnant institutionalism. Consequently, the program becomes the goal rather than a means to a proper "biblical" goal. A strategically  executed program can be conducive to a process driven ministry. However, program without strategic processes fails to fulfill mission and leads to organizational management that is more akin to a business than a ministry. The key to successful ministry is to align programming strategically to process. Oftentimes, ministries neglect program in the name of biblical process and lose quantitative influence. Understanding the synergy between program and process will lead to successful ministry. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

10 More Twitter Accounts College Ministers Should Follow



1. @XP3College: this account is connected to Reggie Joiner’s Orange ministry strategy that synchronizes ministry curriculum efforts for the purpose of uniting the church's multi generations. XP3 college is dedicated to connecting collegians to the local church.  You can find out more information and gather valuable resources here: http://www.whatisorange.org/xp3college/

2. @rahulusbcm: Rahul is the Baptist Collegiate Minister at the University of South Florida. He started an i phone ministry app and may be one of the leaders of campus ministry technology. Visit his social media sites to learn how to marry ministry and social media world or just get a good idea or two.

3. @brifrye: Bryan is serving as the collegiate church planting strategist for the North American Mission Board and the leader of Ohio Collegiate Ministries. He is a great resource for collegiate information in the emerging areas. 

4. @JAMatthew: John Aaron in the Baptist Collegiate Minister at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, Tn. He serves on BCNet and has created a great resource site for international student ministry called www.welcomingthenations.com You can also look at some of the great ideas he has initiated at www.tntechbcm.com

5. @TheLivingRoom: The college ministry of @BuckheadChurch exists to partner with students in leading them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. You can find more about what they do at www.buckheadcollege.org

6. @breakawaymin: Breakaway is a non-denominational, weekly Bible study of thousands of collegians on the campus of Texas A&M University. You can view their website at www.breakawayministries.org. Ben Stuart is the executive director and speaker for Breakaway. You can follow Ben on Twitter @Ben_Stuart_

7. @BH_College: The College Ministry at The Church at Brook Hills seeks to encourage and equip college students to glorify God by making disciples of all nations. You can glean insight from their blog at www.brookhillscollege.org You can follow their college minister @brittentaylor

8. @BryanCBailey: Bryan is the College Pastor @FBCWoodstock in Woodstock, Georgia. You can check out their website at www.20nineministries.org

9. @austinwadlow: Austin leads @OverflowDenton which is the college ministry of @FirstDenton. You can check out their website at www.overflowdenton.org

10. @BradBaker: Brad is the college pastor @Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. He started a collaborative college ministry website www.collegeministry.com, follow it @collegemin or you can read their ministry blog at www.saddleback.com/blogs/crave/  

You can find 10 more here:  Faithvillage

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Thoughts on "Asking Jesus Into Your Heart" in Light of the David Platt & Steve Gaines Debate



I wrote this piece two years ago for a possible book entitled “Misconceptions” that didn't create a deep enough burden in my soul to make it to a publisher...as if it would have been good enough anyways.

Sorry for the length, but it won’t take you long to see where I stand if you want to skim the rest.

The reason I wrote about this topic is two-fold.

1. I grew up in a Christian environment that emphasized easy prayerism and many of my friends who “prayed the prayer" are a far cry from exhibiting biblical discipleship.

2.  I ask around 100 college students per year to share with me their testimony. Without exaggerating, 9 out 10 students that have churched backgrounds tell me that they prayed a prayer earlier in life and nothing changed spiritually. I began realizing that easy prayerism can be disillusioning.

The greatest hindrance to biblical disciple making is that we have minimized Christianity into a simple prayer.

Growing up as a kid, church camp was a weeklong experience that every student in our church looked forward to. It was a refuge from the typical teen’s life of sports, school, and relational drama. Friday night at camp was always the emotional night when approximately half of the youth group made some form of a decision. Perfectly rehearsed invitational songs opened the floodgates of teens running to the alter after an emotionally charged message.

After a “turn or burn” message, the preacher asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes during the invitation in order to make sure that noone was looking. Then he asked all the students to slip up their hands if they wanted to “do business” with God. Some prayed the sinner’s prayer and accepted Christ while others rededicated their life to Christ. It wasn’t until later I realized that many students weren’t running to God; they were running from hell and all they had to do was pray a prayer.

Secretly, I prayed the sinner’s prayer every year of youth camp just in case last years prayer didn’t take. Needless to say, repeating the prayer didn’t necessarily lead to a transformative life-changing encounter with God. In fact, most of the students that made decisions stepped right back into their previous lifestyle after leaving camp and going back home. Now granted, all of us knew that the entire Christian experience didn’t hinge on a simple prayer, but oftentimes, the evangelistic method we encountered indicated otherwise. My defining moment came after realizing there was not enough emotional inertia during the invitation time to produce a life-long disciple of Jesus Christ and fear based evangelism lasted only as long as the fear itself.
  
In our failed attempt to mass market the gospel, have we really reduced the gospel into a simple prayer? We have all heard this prayer at the end of a sermon when the preacher asks the congregation to bow their heads and close their eyes.

“Heavenly Father, I am sorry for sinning against you. I repent of my sins; please forgive my sins. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins, and that He was raised from dead and now lives at the right hand of the Father. I invite Jesus to be the Savior and Lord of my life. Amen. “

The reality is that many people in evangelical Christianity grow up in a church culture that centers around this magic and almost superstitious prayer.

Church History only records the use of the sinner’s prayer within the past 500 or so years; such a prayer was a cultural innovation that made evangelism tactics efficient and measurable. The Great Awakening in the 1700’s recorded endless amounts of conversions resulting from inspirational and emotionally charged preaching. Many preachers during The Great Awakening forced the unregenerate on the front pew and preached eschatological sermons specifically to them, publicly called out their names, and prayed individually with them after the service. There is still much debate today about whether preachers were manipulating people into conversion through emotionalist trancing techniques.  Of course, most of them had good intentions and real conversions certainly took place under the direction of the Holy Spirit. However, guilt driven messages greatly manipulates, but rarely motivates. Emotions are the natural response to an authentic regenerative experience; emotions should never be the fundamental means to forcing a decision.

Unfortunately, I have heard well known evangelists verbalize to me they had the ability to intentionally shed tears in order to pull emotional strings in order to set the stage for the invitational time. Ironically and sadly, these pastors are no longer in ministry because of an “indiscretion”. This admission validated my assumption that guilt coercion and deceptive communicative tactics were not spirit-driven at all, but rather, nothing less than psychological manipulation. Nowhere in scripture do we ever see intentional emotionalism in order to demand an invitational response. The goal of Spirit driven evangelists should be “making disciples” not creating converts.

The sinner’s prayer method surly led to quantitative success in the evangelical world. However, many who have prayed such a prayer leave confused and questioning the state of their relationship with the divine because discipleship is overshadowed by evangelistic methods. We are deceiving ourselves if we think God is dependent on our evangelistic strategies.

Last year, our ministry at Arkansas State University interviewed over eighty college students to help lead the vision of our ministry. During each interview, we asked them to share their testimony and focus on the moment they became a Christian. Amazingly, nine out of ten students said they prayed a prayer as a young child, but nothing transformative happened. 9 out of ten students said they weren’t really Christians after praying that prayer! They would continue to tell a story of how someone led them into a growing relationship with Christ, which validated their Christian conversion. Some students told us about their Sunday school teacher, parents, grand parents, youth pastor, or someone who told them how to live out their faith.

Each student story made me wonder if we have adopted an evangelistic strategy that confuses more than validates; one that is quantitative more than qualitative, formulaic more than exhaustive, and man made more than biblical.

There is no verse that declares that conversion happens in the context of prayer. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t happen in the context of prayer; prayer is surly the result of trusting Christ as savior and lord. It is vitally important that we talk to God in some manner as we trust Christ as Savior and Lord. The sinner’s prayer is a practical method of repentance and faith. Unfortunately, some people who pray this prayer not only fail to continue into discipleship, but record no life change whatsoever.

In order to find the appropriate method of evangelism, we should look no further than God’s Word. Scripture alone provides a method that transcends cultural worldview and denominationalism. Culture certainly does affect our evangelistic method, but it shouldn’t be the only source of our methods. Ironically, today’s culture is strikingly similar to a biblical culture. Millennials are unapologetically cynical to the evangelistic methods of the past and desire trusting relationships with no strings attached and agenda free. This became exceedingly clear to me after cultivating a relationship with a self-proclaimed agnostic graduate student at Arkansas State University. His criticism of Christianity weren’t the claims of Christianity, but rather, the methods Christians use to promulgate the gospel. My take away from this ongoing relationship was rather simple; as Christians, our love for the irreligious must be unconditional for the sake of spreading the gospel to the people who are looking for reasons not to embrace the gospel. Exhibiting unconditional love for others will intentionally lead all of our conversations with the people around us to Christ and the grace He offers. I can give you countless testimonials how this looks in our ministry. The pursuit of conversion should always be on a Christian’s mind, but, the method should be tactfully chosen.

Evangelism is more caught than taught. It’s relational not confrontational. Christianity is not a label we create for ourselves, it is a lifestyle. Note that in the book of Acts, Christians didn’t name themselves. The term Christian was coined by outsiders who observed the lifestyles of Christ followers and concluded to name them “little Christs” because they lived and acted just like Christ did.

So how should we test how people become Christian? Testing evangelistic success should not be merely adding up the number of people who are reached for first-time decisions; the real test of evangelism is whether the people being reached are being baptized, discipled, and reaching others. Most people accept Christ through friendships and relationships. This shouldn’t be a big surprise because the people we know oftentimes give us the most credibility. The Great Commission is an urgent command to intentionally place ourselves in the lives of irreligious people for the sake of leading them into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Put differently, most people do not accept Christ from a stranger or other methods that don’t emphasize authentic relationships and have a set agenda.

Christ has called all of us to “Go”. In Matthew 28, Jesus places the emphasis on disciple making and not mass conversions. Making disciples connotes the lifelong pursuit of holiness through glorifying Christ. Sharing the gospel is merely the first step in making disciples. Disciple makers baptize as an external act of obedience to scripture. Any evangelistic methods that dodge follow-up methods are, at the least, a dangerous sugar coated gospel that may be more damning than salvific. Consumeristic Christianity or easy believism may indeed be the reason for a decline in twenty first century baptisms and certainly an enemy to the church. Such a gospel allows people to live as though God doesn’t exist; this is no gospel at all. There is very little difference in the way people who claim to be Christians behave when compared to the irreligious. American Christianity has packaged grace in a way to get all the goods of salvation for none of the sacrifice it ought to create. Real grace not only absolves the sin, but also, liberates the sinner from sin itself. Liberation from sin takes place in the context of repentance.

Following Christ will Cost you; however, the cost of not following Christ is much greater. Consequently, there is no Christianity without discipleship. A profound life transformation into the likeness of Christ is is the natural result of an authentic conversion. True faith is the facilitator of human to holy. While we become Christian at one point in time, authentic initial faith inevitably becomes continual. Should the appropriate response to God’s grace be anything less.

Discipleship isn’t necessarily found in TV evangelism, tracks, and the latest program or curriculum; look no further than Jesus’ relationship with his disciples to find a biblical method.

The kingdom of God will not be advanced through man made growth strategies including excellent programming and quick and easy prayerism that’s more like a drive through than your local McDonalds. Jesus’ strategy was fundamentally simple, “make disciples” Making disciples is the only effective way His kingdom will be advanced. In order to make disciples, we have to overcome our spectacular emphasis on the number of converts and provide more emphatic attention towards making disciples who make disciples.

Becoming a fully devoted follower of Christ is not an option; Praying a prayer, going to church, and affirming certain beliefs is simply not enough. We should live in such a way that it is obvious to everyone we are Christ followers. Discipleship is essential for every Christian, not just an option for super Christians. The measure of churches shouldn’t be how many people pray a prayer, but rather, how many people are disciple making. Healthy churches mature and grow godly believers lead others to believe. Put differently, grace is evidenced in the spirit of the redeemed, transformed, obedient, and identifiable saints. Change is the prerequisite to discipleship; we are called to be changed, embrace change, and initiate change in others.

Faith is not merely emotional, educational, environmental, or experiential; faith is transformational and alive. The most productive life in God’s kingdom can only be experienced by dying to the flesh and the world.

The time is now to call for a practical marriage for evangelism and discipleship.

Questions:

 What is the inward and outward witness of your lifestyle?
  
 What lifestyle evidence does your life of conversion, commitment, and consecration?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why BCM is NOT Parachurch and Why it Matters


Oftentimes within insider Christian circles, BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) is falsely misrepresented as a parachurch organization.  This myth can be detrimental to the philosophy and core values of BCM and the local church.

Why is BCM not a parachurch organization? 

Simply put, BCM is under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention as missional product of pooled resources. In stark contrast, parachurch organizations are not accountable to a particular denomination.  Historically, parachurch organizations work across denominational lines ecumenically for the purpose of social reform or evangelism.

I have yet to find a term or expression I feel comfortable using to explain BCM and its relationship to the church. Stephen Lutz wrote a great blog explaining the distinction here:  http://www.stephenlutz.net/2010/05/28/denominationally-based-campus-ministries-church-parachurch-hybrid-other/In his blog, BCM minister Nick Melazzo says, “BCM is not merely an extension of or a partner to the local church; rather it is a sodality of the church...” His understanding of BCM and church relations rightly connotes a deep intimacy of reciprocal investment for kingdom partnership.

The BCM is the representation and identity of all SBC churches strategically located on campus.

What does this blog mean for churches?

Simply put, the way Southern Baptist Churches relate to BCM should be distinctly different than the way they partner with parachurch organizations. Churches ought to fully support parachurch organizations, but the way they strategically partner will look differently because of the strategy of the SBC and its intention for the BCM.

A couple years ago, I had a conversation with a very well known SBC mega church pastor about college ministry.  He proceeded to tell me how they supported many parachurch organizations that targeted college students. One collegiate-based parachurch ministry had an office inside his church. I asked him about his relationship to the BCM and he didn't who the BCM minister was or it's existence.  I’m wholeheartedly supportive for his desire to support various collegiate-based parachurch ministries, but not at the complete expense of neglecting the BCM as his denominational identity. 


Stories like this are unfortunately ordinary because most SBC churches don't see BCM as their “on-campus DNA".  

What this blog doesn’t mean for BCM…

This doesn’t mean that BCM is a holy huddle of Baptist students. BCM will continually represent a missional branch of the SBC. Consequently, many collegians who are involved in BCM aren’t Baptist, or even believers. The BCM will continue to intentionally reach unbelievers, dechurched, and unchurched students while maintaining the duty to make disciples of everyone including believers. 

As an ecumenical thinker, I believe all reputable Christian organizations are worthy partners in ministry; However, in order to be most effective in kingdom minded ministry, the manner by which we define ourselves and communicate with the church is of utmost importance. The relationship by which the church has with organizations should be defined by the organizations' mission. Fundamentally, the BCM desires to connect students to your church because we believe have a strong ecclesiology.