Less Can Mean More

Chuck Bomar —  April 15, 2014 — 4 Comments

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.58.12 PMMinistry always changes because people always change. Some change is natural due to cultural influence while other change is simply a natural reaction to what was emphasized by previous generations. Either way you look at it, our focal points in our ministries are constantly evolving.

Or, at least they should be.

That said, here are two things I think we need to see LESS of in ministry to college-age people. I must warn you. At first glance, these may seem highly un-spiritual.  Just hear me out, because I think less of these two things means much more in others.

  1. Less focus on spiritual discipline.   I understand discipline is necessary for godliness, but we can also mistake discipline for godliness.  If we are not careful, placing too much emphasis on spiritual disciplines inevitably causes us to over emphasize what we believe to be proper behavior for Christians rather than the faith, love, and hope Christians ought to be motivated by. The fact is spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer, etc. are byproducts of faith and not producers of it.  We must be very careful with this distinction and make sure we are not emphasizing behaviors vs. faith.  Younger generations are extremely sensitive to being behavior managed.  I discuss this extensively in my latest book, Losing Your Religion.  But, here I would simply say the less focus on behavior management systems that try to get people to do things for God lends more room for us to emphasize the motivations of faith, love, and hope that free us to do things because of God.
  2. Less focus on gaining more information.  Spiritual maturity is not defined by how much knowledge we possess. Memorizing Proverbs doesn’t make me wise.  Learning more about God and what it means to follow Jesus through the scriptures is, of course, important and especially for those that know almost nothing about scripture.  However, in my experience, our emphasis should be much more on seeking to embrace what we already know. So, to be clear, we are not negating knowledge, but instead, valuing it to such a degree that we actually emphasize embracing it practically.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 3.05.56 PMCollege students can sometimes get a bad rap for being flakey.  Although I understand how leaders can have this perception, I’ve actually written about how this is often not the case when we look a little deeper into their search for identity and belonging (for more on that, see the following two books: Worlds Apart or College Ministry 101). But, on the other hand, college students, like all of us from time to time, can certainly get to the point where they are so over committed that they don’t follow through.

The trick is to know the difference between a flakey person and a someone who is just over committed.  It’s a critical distinction because we would approach each issue entirely differently.

Here are 5 signs that students might not be as flakey as they are just over committed:

(1) They’re actually apologetic about being late.

(2) They always seem stressed or rushed.

(3) They can never seem to remember what you talked about last time you met.

(4) They talk about what they “have” to do way more than what they “want” to do.

(5) They are usually tired.

I’ve found the following to be beneficial when working with over committed people:

  1. Be an e-brake.  Literally ask them to stop and take a deep breathe.
  2. Be a listener.  Ask them how they are really doing and don’t give advice unless they specifically ask for it.
  3. Pray for them.  After listening, just ask if you can pray for them.  Pray for peace, wisdom with time management and focus on what truly matters.

We can often encourage people more by just being present and supportive than we can by giving a bunch of unsolicited advice.

Chuck / @chuckbomar



Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 11.57.57 AMI would consider myself a HUGE advocate for college age people. I think my track record would show that.

That said, I thought I might throw out a few things (with a bit of sarcastic tone behind them) that college aged people might consider including in their 2014 New Year Resolutions.

Hopefully you can laugh with me on this one:

  1. I will stop considering my jeans clean simply because I put them in the dryer with a dryer sheet.
  2. I will start washing my sheets before I can see the dirt ring where I lay down.
  3. I will think twice and consider what I am saying about myself before I post/tweet “selfies.”
  4. I will stop stalking my old high school friends Facebook pages so I can judge their life decisions.
  5. I will stop making romantic decisions with the 13-year-old part of my brain.
  6. I will stop using Emoji’s to cover up my lack of ability to articulate emotions in words.
  7. I will stop spending money as if it grows on my bed – that my parents bought me.
  8. I will stop calling in sick to work simply because I hung out with friends until 4:00 a.m.
  9. I will hit “snooze” less – maybe 2-3 times maximum.
  10. I will stop spending all my free-time managing my social networks and then complaining that I’m too busy.

Happy New Year!

Chuck

@chuckbomar

Everyone is ramped up for school to be back in, rhythms to be brought back…and to implement all that we have planned.  We have new volunteers, new roles for veteran volunteers and we’ve cast out new vision.

All that makes it really easy to forget these things:

  1. The head of your ministry is Jesus. We can’t fall into having a Messiah complex where we think everything falls on us.  We have a role – and it’s important – but we are not the answer.  Jesus is.
  2. Your ministry is a part of something bigger - a church or campus ministry.  We must be aligned with the bigger picture and create windows of connection into that.
  3. People just want to feel like they belong.  Whatever age of people you are focused on, the bottom line is they are looking to belong.  And here’s the thing: belonging doesn’t come through programs or events or good sermon messages.  Belonging only comes through relationships.
  4. Ministry is and should be simple.  I have a friend and in many ways a mentor that often says, “only people count.”  He is right and we cannot forget that.  And, we must realize that “people counting” is different than us counting people.



People this time of year often ask for suggestions for graduating senior gifts. I lean toward a great book by default – early in youth ministry we would give a really nice leather Bible to our seniors. That became a very meaningful tradition to seniors. It may be awesome if you could get a specific book for each person who is graduating your ministry. No matter what you decide to give them – make sure it is personal – write a note in the front cover, drop a note in the middle of the book with a Starbucks giftcard, tell them the story of why you chose this book for them. Here are a few suggestions that may be good for one or all of your seniors:

Case for Christ – help your graduates hold onto their faith after high school. Maybe even get this book now for everyone and do a 5-week study on it as they end their time in your youth ministry. Get them grounded in their faith.

99 Thoughts for College Age People – Chuck Bomar takes on 99 simple short thoughts to help a student transition from high school to college. Quick read, funny, nice little gift.

Make College Count – this is a new book this year that looks solid – college is a time where you develop into the person you will be for the rest of your life and Make College Count will help your students figure out that crucial time.

So most importantly … what would you suggest to give your seniors this year?

JG