CollegeLeader Insights

 —  September 29, 2009 — 1 Comment

When I was in LA I had the chance to sit down with some of my friends. One of those friends was Reggie Joiner. In case you don’t know who he is, here’s a few things that might ring a bell: co-author of Seven Practices for Effective Ministry, author of Think Orange, Catalyst Conferences, the founder of reThink, founder The Orange Conference, a guy who helped Andy Stanley start NorthPoint just outside Atlanta.

The more I get to know him I realize, beyond this STUFF that he loves God, loves his wife and family, and those around him (that live life with him daily) love him as well. This, to me, says all I need to know. You should also know that I think he is one of the top thinkers we have in the Church today. For sure. No doubts in my mind.

I have the privilege of currently writing a book with Reggie (along with another friend Abbie Smith) and I’m very excited to be processing through these issues with him. Anyway, I asked him to share ONE quick thought for those working in college ministry. He did. It’s very simple. What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Why?

CollegeLeader Thoughts – Reggie Joiner from Kristen Giesenschlag on Vimeo.

Catch Up & Community

 —  September 28, 2009 — Leave a comment

This weekend I was in LA at NYWC. It was an encouraging weekend teaching, discussing college ministry with a bunch of people, hanging with friends, and listening to some good messages. I also took some video of a few friends while we were hanging out who shared some “words of wisdom” about college ministry. I’ll post some of those soon.

But, being true to my word, I wanted to write a very short bit about the show Community. The biggest insight into college-age people, I thought, came in the idea of being a part of a cause. Being a part of something bigger than themselves. It’s no secret that college-age people have zeal, but one thing many miss is their zeal to help the helpless.

This surpasses the recent awareness on social justice. This is an age-stage thing. Some might even say it’s a human thing. But what I can say for certain is it’s a college-age stage thing. Some of this is due to their place in life – or lack of “place” in life. They don’t have direction in life, but we all need direction and “a cause” to live for. Since many don’t know the “cause” for them as an individual yet, their zealous energy is funneled into a cause to help someone else.

Unfortunately when we get older we far too often lose this, focusing on ourselves.

As leaders we need to emphasize focusing on others as biblical and especially during the college-age years. It’s when we can help college-age people focus on a worthwhile cause today that keeps them from devoting their lives to worthless causes later.

I think the show, Community, had some insight into this. It was twisted in a relational mixed motivation plot, but that’s life (and television). The show highlighted this focus of being a part of a cause and I thought rightly so. I also think it’s good to process through for our ministries.

How do you help keep college-age people find meaning in eternal things? How do you help them focus their zeal on Christ-like causes?


 —  September 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

We all use words to communicate. One problem: we all attach connotations to words.

It’s like naming one of your kids. You have a name you love so you share your amazing idea with your spouse. But he/she knows someone they didn’t like with that name. Because of the connotations your spouse attaches to that name, it changes everything.

Know what I mean?

Defining terms is crucial to be able to focus in ministry. Especially with terms like “spiritual maturity.” I’m assuming we’d all agree that we want people to be “spiritually mature,” but how we define that might be different. Entirely different. And that can change everything in our ministries.

So, how would you define “spiritually mature?”

LA This Weekend

 —  September 23, 2009 — 1 Comment

Friday morning I’ll be heading to LA for the National Youth Worker Conference. If you’re there stop by a seminar and say hi – even if you don’t attend it. I’m going to try to do some video blogs from there – we’ll see how it goes. I’ll be doing a couple of things, but one is a seminar called College Ministry 101. The description for this seminar is:

Many youth workers want to do something for college ministry, but either don’t have the time to invest or the understanding of what’s truly needed. If there is an area of ministry that isn’t understood, can use more resources and training and yet is much more simple than we realize, it’s college ministry. Is being effective in college ministry really about having another church service or having an older youth-ministry-on-steroids approach? Or, is it much, much deeper? This seminar suggests the latter and articulates the things churches are embracing that truly engage and connect with the minds and hearts of college-age people. This seminar will address the following questions:

What is the ONE thing we need to focus on in college ministry?

What are the age stage issues needing specific attention and how do we meet those needs?

What teaching and discipleship philosophies work – and which don’t?

How can I help my church leadership better understand the importance of college ministry?

What resources are available that would help me manage my time best?

Hope to see you there…

"Greek" on ABC

 —  September 22, 2009 — Leave a comment

Picture 1I’m sure many of you have seen – or at least heard of – the show, “Greek” seen on ABC Family channel. I’m curious to hear your thoughts. There are a TON of things I could write about this show as to how it pertains to ministry with college students, what college life is really like, insights into relational boundaries/issues, sifting through and bailing out on previous faith assumptions, dealing with fraternity life, dorm mates, the issue of homosexuality in college…I could go on and on. But, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the show in general and whether or not you feel like it would be helpful to have a series of posts on this show.

Have you seen the show? Have you heard anything about it? Do you think it’s an accurate or inaccurate portrayal of true college life?

Of course it’s a drama, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t provide at least some insights for us. Let me know your thoughts…

While we’re on the topic of community colleges (see previous post) I thought I’d write briefly about some of the things happening on community college campuses, showing the growth they are experiencing. If you are in college ministry and live remotely close to a community college you must begin to be intentional with these schools.

In a recent post on Higher Ed, one professor from Bunker Hill Community College in Boston wrote about the experience of having to teach a midnight class. That’s right, the class begins at 11:45 pm and goes until 2:45 am. And believe it or not, the class is completely full, having 47 people taking the course. In addition it might surprise you that the age range of students in this class is 18 to 59 year olds.

Why class at midnight? Well, professors claim that all other classes are full and there are literally no more scheduling slots in the 24 hour time period to place class times. This particular community college (and others are pretty much the same) has seen a 25% increase in enrollment in the last year. Of course the economy has something to do with this and I don’t think it will change anytime soon. I think the coming 5 years will show community colleges as a real “force” in higher education. And churches better catch onto this! College ministry on community college campuses must be a major focus for us. If not, we’ll be missing a massive part of the college-age population as well as much of the movement of this age-stage from a sociological perspective.

Midnight classes are not all great, there are some concerns. One would be that the typical community college student is not as financially well-off as those say at major universities. And, as this particular post points out, we’re forcing our countries poorest people to take midnight classes. Professors are not paid more to teach these classes than those teaching during daytime areas, which of course will cause some union issues at some point. It will be interesting to see if these schools begin charging less for these less than ideal time slots (believe me, college is a business and I’m sure administrators will figure out how to make the most “bang for their buck”). For some these later time slots works great, but for others it’s simply the only option if they want to obtain a degree.

I’d recommend you not limiting college ministry to 4 year campuses. I know these commuter campuses can be difficult in ways to reach out to (for an article on this, click here). I’ve issued ideas in an Appendix in College Ministry 101, but will write MUCH more on this…


 —  September 21, 2009 — 1 Comment

As promised, I wanted to post some of my thoughts on the new sitcom “Community.” This will be short, as I was fairly dissapointed with the amount of insight it had into the actual life at community college’s around our country. That said, I do think two things came across (which I’ll discuss here) and I am still hopeful that as the series goes along that there will be some more accurate portrayals that can help us in ministry.

First, briefly, it did portray the variety of ages and personalities attending community colleges. This is very true and easily seen. I’m hoping the show will depict more of the not so obvious aspects of community college atmospheres.

The show, of course, was character driven. What else can you expect. The second thing that the show was intentional about bringing out is the perception that community colleges are sort of a “less than” approach to college education. Having worked with many students attending these schools, I have found this to be fairly normal. Students do often feel like they aren’t “really” in college yet, that they’re somewhat behind in their education pursuits, or they feel like they’re having to compromise some things for a time. And most community colleges come with some sort of nickname that has been past down by the students emphasizing the reality that its not a full-fledged university but rather somehow just an extension of high school.

I do think this is true, but I also think this is changing – and will continue to change more and more. Community colleges are growing tremendously! The cost of 4 year universities are rising rapidly, which obviously contributes to this. I also think many high school graduates are just beginning to think about what direction they will head in which also contributes to the growth. Instead of paying huge amounts of money for this time of discovery, why not go to a community college and get some GE out of the way while you do? (more on that in later posts)

Anyway, hopefully this Thursday nights show will have more to write on. For now, here are a couple questions for discussion:

Do you find community college students having a “less than” mentality? Do you see them feeling like they are behind in education somehow? What other differences do you see in community college students from major university ones?

Patriarchal Prayer

 —  September 17, 2009 — Leave a comment

I was just at a “prayer” meeting with some local pastors. I put prayer in quotes because we talked most of the time. I think this was fairly unusual though. Their Thursday morning gatherings are typically spent praying for one another. Pretty cool.

The highlight for me though was listening to Louie, a 90 year old man. Well, I think he was 90. If not, very close. He was there with his wife, whom was sleeping in her wheel chair.

Wisdom spewed out of Louie throughout the meeting. He’s a retired pastor, but certainly seemed to be a godly man. He said something at the end that I thought was very cool. We were just about done talking, when he interrupted and said: “We’ve had a good discussion today, but I just want to remind everyone that Satan isn’t sitting on his butt doing nothing today. He’s tirelessly at work, and we ought to be tirelessly praying.”

We prayed. Afterwards he asked if he could pray for me. He got up and walked over to me as I was sitting in my chair. I stood in front of me, put his hands on my shoulders, and began to pray. I can just tell you that I felt like this man knows God and that when he was praying for me I really felt like God was listening and present. Prayers of the older, yet faithful saints are underrated. I confess that I don’t recognize their faithfulness enough. Man, that was cool. This man has walked with God for more than 3 times the time I have and he had a softness and humility about him that I would love to have at his age.

Louie gave me his number. I’m gonna have a cup of coffee with that man….more than once.