News, Views & Reviews


Entrusted: The Few & the Many

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:20 AM by Ginger Bowman

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. 2Timothy 2:2 NIV

We are instructed to entrust what we have heard to reliable people who will be qualified to teach others.  How good are you at entrusting to others? Sometimes it is difficult because it means we have to hand off some of our ministry to others. Then, trust them to follow through. Many avoid developing student leaders/disciplers for this reason. We would rather do it ourselves. It's just easier.

Actually, it's not easier, and it's not Biblical. We are stunting the spiritual growth of those we lead if we do not teach them to be disciple makers. If you are teaching, you are spurred on by your responsibility to others to continue to learn yourself, to answer the questions that are asked. Teaching others implies growth on the part of the teacher. Why wouldn't we want that for our students?

It is practically impossible to make disciples if we don't equip them to teach others. We don't have enough "relational surface area" to disciple everyone. Discipleship in its truest form is relationship. There are only so many hours in the day and only so many people that you can relate with on a deep level at one time.  There is a point at which you are no longer being a good steward of the relationships that have been entrusted to you. Give some away to those who are ready to be disciplers.  

If your discipling team consists of you and a few adult leaders, you are also stunting the growth of your ministry. Because one person only has so much time and energy to invest, we must make disciples who can make disciples. It is God's plan. Not simple addition, but multiplication. Jesus discipled a few who invested in the many. The imact? They changed the world. Jesus said in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations. You and I cannot do that on our own. We must invest well in those we have been given, then trust them to invest in others who will do the same.

Resource recommendation: Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden is a great book to help students grow as disciples and be ready to disciple others. Find it on Amazon.

The Spring Fall Connection

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:10 AM by Ginger Bowman

You made it through Spring Break! It's tempting to put your ministry on cruise control as you head for the end of the semester, but now is not the time to slow down. These next few weeks could determine the strength of your ministry in the fall

Church college ministry doesn't change quite as drastically in the summer, and may in fact pick up with the return of students who have gone away to other campuses. Nonetheless, the students you have at the end of the spring semester will likely be your core group in the fall.  So, now is the time to cultivate leaders from among this group of students if you haven't already.  

Students reach students.   In his book, College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture, Stephen Lutz writes, "Rather than being passive consumers of ministry, students are called to jump in with the same missional charge. They make the best campus missionaries. After all, they're the ones who join the clubs, sit in the classes, play on the teams, and lead student government. They're the ones who get to have the deep conversations at 2:00 am in the dorm when someone pours their heart out."* So true. Why wouldn't we equip them to lead? 

Cast vision. Next fall is likely not on the radar for students right now. They are trying to get through the semester and thinking about what they will do this summer. Start talking about the fall now.  Cast a vision for what the fall ministry could be. Begin to pray together about what God would have you do to reach students this fall.  

Start where they are. Some may not be quite ready to lead a ministry or disciple other students. Start by discipling them personally and preparing them to do the same when they are ready. Plant the seed by letting them know that you think they can disciple someone else in the near future. Pray together about who that might be. Ask potential leaders to help you plan an event or ministry this spring or summer. Then give them responsibility for specific tasks that will help to build their confidence in leading.  

Pray for workers.  Pray Luke 10:2 for your ministry, that God would send workers for the harvest fields. Pray that He would open your eyes to see potential leaders that maybe you haven't noticed before. Pray that He would begin to raise up leaders from among your group that will be ready for the work he has for your church in the new school year.   

*Lutz, Stephen. College Ministry in a Post-Christian Culture, 2011, pg 71.   

When Sin Gets in the Way

posted Apr 5, 2017, 6:07 AM by Ginger Bowman


No one likes moldy bread. Bread is supposed to taste great, and look appetizing. The thing is that mold doesn't start out looking bad. It starts small, in the right environment to grow mold, warm air, certain bacteria, light, etc. Your bread might look fine at first but it has a slightly soured smell, and then by the next day it starts to look funny. Eventually it is down right disgusting.  It didn't start out that way. 

Have you experienced a time in your collegeministry when things began to slow down? Maybe your group was growing spiritually and numerically, then things came to a slow halt, attendance dropped a little, and something just didn't seem right. What was the culprit?  Sometimes it's sin. 

Joshua and the Israelites experienced something similar in when they crossed over in to Canaan. Their courage failed and they began to feel defeated. God responds in Joshua 7:13 with these words:  "Get up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow; for thus says the Lord, God of Israel, “There are devoted things in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” (ESV)"  There was sin in the camp. Achan had taken the devoted things and tried to hide them, and his sin was getting in the way of what God wanted to do, not just for Achan, but for Israel. 

Sin can get in the way of what God wants to do in your college ministry. It can prevent the Holy Spirit from moving as He desires to move and lead your group. Left unaddressed, sin can even begin to permeate the culture of your group making it ineffective and unappetizing to spiritually hungry students.  
In a relativistic culture, dealing with sin can be a challenge, but it is necessary. Our silence can be seen as permissiveness. What's more, we aren't helping students if we aren't helping them address the sin in their lives. So let's speak the truth in love, and let our students know that God's standard will be our standard because it is what is best for them.  

Hiding God's Word in Their Hearts: True Story

posted Mar 1, 2017, 10:38 AM by Ginger Bowman

Scripture memorization plays a vital role in the personal growth of a mature believer and should not be neglected. I first came to know the Lord when I was in Junior High and was quickly discipled by my youth pastor. Each week, he asked me to memorize a verse off a packet he had typed up for me with verses that he claimed you need to know as a follower of Christ. Memorization at that point in my life was more of a challenge than a joy. This discipline went to the wayside in college until I became a Campus Missionary Intern and was challenged to memorize close to fifteen verses a semester. Little did I know that mindset of scripture memorization as a have to would become a true and utter joy.

In my time as a CMI, I've learned that your ability or want to memorize God's word is a direct reflection of your desire to want to grow in the Lord. Psalm 119: 11 mentions the idea of "hiding His word on your heart so that you will not sin against Him." My utmost ambition in life is to jump for joy in the Lord like David did. I desire that close intimacy that he had. Scripture memory has helped fuel that desire. Not only am I reading God's word, but I am implementing it as an active part of my daily life. It helps me experience "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding." Does scripture memorization play an active part in your ability to find rest in the Lord? Our desire to grow in the Lord is reflected in our ability to memorize His word.

What's made this even more joyful is seeing this become contagious to the young men that I disciple on a weekly basis. They have become my accountability group. One of my students, Jesus Cruz, memorized close to an entire chapter in 1 Chronicles. None of this was done out of a have to, but out of pure joy in his heart. Hiding God's word in his heart has become a discipline of joy in his personal growth with the Lord. 

Hunter Fountain is Campus Missionary Intern for Texas BSM at Stephen F Austin State University. 

Hiding God's Word in Their Hearts: Resources

posted Feb 22, 2017, 8:56 AM by Ginger Bowman

Remember Bible drill? How many of those verses do you still know? Probably several of them. They were imprinted on your heart as you memorized them during those childhood years.  Unfortunately many Christians stop memorizing scripture when they grow up, but scripture memory isn't just for kids. It's an important part of discipleship.

Here are some practical resources you can use to encourage your students to continue to memorize scripture.  

 The Navigators Topical Memory System is an excellent comprehensive resource for scripture memory, complete with systematized instruction, verses for memory by category, and scripture memory cards.  This resource would be an excellent starting point for students who are just beginning the spiritual discipline of scripture memory.   
 BibleMinded, an app created by the American Bible Society for your tablet or smartphone, works like flashcards with a system for learning and then reviewing verses that have been learned. Memorization plans are provided, or add your own verses.
 MemVerse.com is an online resource with verses to learn, and quizzes to test your memorization. It even makes a game of scripture memory complete with a leader board. Great for those competitive types! 

Of course, you can't go wrong with some flash cards and a marker. Have students write out a verse you are studying in your Bible study each week and put it in their car, on their mirror. Whatever works for them. However you want to do it, memorize scripture, and challenge your students to do so as well. Remember that God's word is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12 would be a great place to start. 

Do you challenge your students to memorize scripture?  We would love to hear about it on our Facebook page here.

Hiding God's Word in Their Hearts

posted Feb 15, 2017, 9:21 PM by Ginger Bowman

I confess.  I began memorizing scripture long before there was "an app for that!”  In fact, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Bible concordance!
For me it began as a new believer my junior year in college, as I read my Bible, it seemed as though there verses on every page that I wanted to remember.  And simply underlining them wasn’t enough.  Instinctively, I began to write those verses on little cards, carry the cards in my pocket, and memorize them.  Little did I know that I was practicing an age-old, Jewish tradition.
 My old-fashioned practice of memorizing verses was affirmed over and again as I observed other Christians I admired who didn’t have to read verses out of the Bible when they spoke.  They simple quoted them!  Our Campus Missionary Intern at SFA taught us the Bridge Illustration, quoting each of the verses by memory.  As she did so I remember how differently those verses sounded as she shared them from her heart.  That day I made a commitment to the Lord to memorize scripture for the rest of my life.
I was totally content just to have those verses in my heart, but the surprise was how often I had the opportunity to share them with others.  I hadn’t anticipated that blessing. My friend and mentor, Max Barnett, said, “I wouldn’t trade the verses I memorized in college for six million dollars.”  How long since you had something you wouldn’t trade for six million dollars?
In our training for BSM Campus Missionary Interns we ask them to come to orientation with 15 verses down pat, with the hope that they'll continue the discipline... for the rest of their lives.  A few doddle with the assignment, but oh, some really get hooked!  And those who do enlist their students to do the same.  Some have their leadership teams memorize entire chapters, and some memorize complete books of the Bible!  We all agree that this could digress to a legalistic exercise and become a source of pride, but when we do it "as unto the Lord" He uses those verses to do surgery on our hearts and continually makes them new.  I think it's worth the risk.
Robert Hooker is Evangelism Counsultant for Texas BSM. 

Do you have a social media strategy?

posted Feb 1, 2017, 11:42 AM by Ginger Bowman

How intentional are you about using social media? Maybe you use it regularly, but are you using it intentionally?  Students are online, but what is the best way to engage them and model values for them when it comes to social media? 
1.   Ask your students what social media platforms they are using. If you're not intentional, you may be missing your target. It varies from year to year and from campus to campus. Many students are not on Facebook anymore. They have moved on to Instagram, Twitter,  and Snapchat, and some are more likely to engage in a "group me" that sends text alerts to their phones. Don't assume, ask.  Then pick a few platforms to spend focused attention on. 
2. Post regularly. Sometimes it's difficult to remember to post on your page, or to send out a tweet, but more regular posting means more consistent engagement with your social media platform. Use sites that help you set up and schedule posts, like Hootsuite.comBuffer.com, or if you have a Facebook page, you can schedule when you want posts to go out. Set aside an hour to enter content that you want students to see then schedule them so your day fragmented trying to post new material. Pay attention to key times that students are online, and schedule accordingly.  
3. Plan for content. There will always be articles and posts that you want to share on the spot, but plan ahead for what you want your group to see. Share scripture and follow ups to recent studies you have been doing together. Promote upcoming events. Post pictures of your group to help prospects get an idea of what your group does. Recruit students to contribute posts, pictures and scriptures.  
4. Model boundaries. Probably goes without saying, but, if you're challenging your students to limit their time on social media, you should too. Do your students see you posting late at night? Constantly during the day? Set a good example by limiting your own time, and let them know ahead of time when you are not accessible.    
5. Realize the limitations of social media. Social media can be a great tool for sharing information, even connecting to some degree, but it cannot do everything. Make social media one of several touch points that students will receive from your group. There is no substitute for face to face time with a student, a personal phone call invite from another student, or even a handwritten note. 

Students Make a Big Impact through Prison Ministry

posted Jan 25, 2017, 11:38 AM by Ginger Bowman

Students and leaders from the college ministry at University Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville, as a part of Sports Reach Texas, traveled to a detention center in Waco, TX in November.  College ministry leader Travis Henderson shares about their experience.

This was our first trip to this privately operated co-gender facility which housed county inmates and federal detainees. Like any trip to a new facility, there was some apprehension about how the day would play out. That quickly dissipated when Warden Richard Alford met us in the parking lot. Warden Alford informed us that there were 175 females housed at the facility that day and his goal was for all 175 of the women to hear the gospel. Our girls quickly accepted the challenge.
 
During this trip, a large group of our girls headed for the recreation yard to play volleyball and share the gospel to larger groups.  A smaller group went with a correctional officer to housing areas to share the gospel and invite the women out to the recreation yard. Warden Alford escorted three of us to administrative segregation to share the gospel with eight women housed there.
 
The first girl we got to share with accepted Christ! It was amazing watching someone come to faith through a solid metal door. Steel doors and locks cannot stop God’s word! The volleyball player’s and other girls with them had great success in sharing the Good News.  We had 22 women accept Christ that day!  They had a great time playing volleyball, sharing the Word, but most of all making new friends and praying together.

A week or so later, the Warden called again and asked if we would be interested in coming back to do baptisms. Of course we were excited about the opportunity! On January 7th, 2017, we loaded up and headed back to Waco. The first number of women that we heard who wanted to be baptized was 28. By the next week it was in the 30’s, but when we arrived there were 48 women wanting to be baptized. Big thanks to Barbara, a sweet volunteer that goes on a weekly basis to minister to these ladies and helped us get the baptisms set up.

We met in a hallway in the booking area and had a time of worship and God’s word. There was a horse trough set up in the middle of the hallway for the baptisms. It was an amazing sight to see women lined up to get baptized. While they were waiting, our girls prayed, laughed and cried with them. Before being baptized, we got to visit with them individually to make sure they understood the gospel and the significance of baptism. The 48 baptisms took place in the hall with cheers, tears and smiles. After the baptisms, we had a birthday party in the chapel to celebrate their new birth in Christ that included cookies, cake and punch.  During this time we were able to visit and encourage our new sisters in Christ.

There was also a woman under psychiatric watch who had just found out that she received a life sentence and will likely die in prison. She was suicidal and under direct observation. They had taken her clothes away and given her a paper robe so she would not use the clothing to hang herself. She had ripped up her robe and was in the cell naked. She was beating on the door and hitting her head on the door and wall.The warden looked at me and told the assistant warden to find a girl with us named Emily, one that had been with us in psych on the previous trip. Emily walked up to the small glass in the door and talked to this distraught lady. After about two minutes, she stopped beating on the door. Emily talked to her for an hour, sharing hope, the love of our Savior and prayer. It was AMAZING, this poor lady was out of control, and God used a college student to calm the situation. God is so good. This was a unique trip. We were able to see the fruits from our previous trip and encourage this group of offenders to continue living a life of faith.

Photos contributed by Libby Rogers.
Got a story to share about your students? We would love to hear about it! Share with us on our Facebook page. 

Where'd you get those cool pics?

posted Jan 25, 2017, 11:35 AM by Ginger Bowman

In the age of social media, pictures and graphics are important.  If your ministry is on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat (and most college ministries are) they are essential. However, smart phones and search engines make it all too easy to copy and paste without giving much thought to the source of the photo. Yes, that meme your student leader just sent you would be perfect for your upcoming event, but you should think twice before adding it to your page.  


Many of the photos circulating on the web have a copyright, and there are companies and legal entities searching for organizations that are violating copyright laws by using unauthorized copyrighted material. Several ministries and churches have already faced legal action from these groups.  Here are some options to help you avoid a copyright violation.
  • Use public domain photos.  If you want to search for a specific image in your search engine, be sure to put what you are looking for and the words "public domain."  Then double check the image you select to be sure that it is actually a public domain image by right clicking on the image and looking at the properties.  
  •  Use a site that sources public domain photos or publish under creative commons agreements. Sites like pixabay and morguefile are great resources for finding quality images. Word of caution: subscription services like Shutterstock often advertise on these pages, so be sure to check that you are selecting one of the free images before you use it.  
  • Subscribe. If you use a number of quality photos and backgrounds in your ministry, it's a good idea to budget for an annual subscription to a site with a good source of photos. Sites like graphicstock.comclipart.com and istockphoto.com are great resources depending on your price range.  Your subscription pays for your right to republish the images you choose. 
  • Use your own photos. Get your students to take photos that you can use for publicity and in social media posts. Create a google drive or dropbox folder  to collect their photos. It's a great opportunity to involve creative students in your ministry. 
What resources do you use for creating great images and graphics? We want to learn from you! Share with us on our Facebook page. 

Planning for a Great Spring Break Trip

posted Jan 11, 2017, 11:01 AM by Ginger Bowman   [ updated Jan 11, 2017, 11:03 AM ]

After I had led my first spring break trip, complete with selecting a project, recruiting students, renting vans and figuring out how to haul all of the luggage and supplies we needed, another director from another campus said to me, "oh, you could have just teamed up with us."  And I thought, "What a great idea. Wish I had thought of that a few months ago."

It never occurred to me that I might find someone else who had led dozens of trips, and learned from them that first year. And years later, as I talk to college leaders around the country, I am still learning and hearing great ideas. So, if this is your first or fortieth trip, here are a few ideas gathered from the field of college ministry.
  • You don't have to do it alone.  Learn from my experience! If you've not already planned your trip, ask another group if you can team up with them on their trip. Or  find out through social media who else is doing a trip similar to yours. Ask them for advice. Find out how they are planning their trip. If they have been before they may have valuable info to help you as you plan for ministry and travel. 
  • Ownership is important.  Even in the planning, find ways to share responsibilities with the students who are going on the trip. Designate a student to be in charge of prayer, trip promotion, social media communication, etc. Students will be more invested and have a greater sense of purpose on the trip if they are a part of leading it.  
  • Use your resources. The great benefit of being part of the local church is that you have other adults in your church that can be a great resource to you.  Recruit adults with specific skills that your group needs, even if they have never been involved in the college ministry. Someone who likes to drive the van for church trips. A retired contractor that would love to help supervise on a construction project. An empty-nester mom who could cook meals for your group during the week (and drive vans. Who doesn't need more van drivers, right? ). Students will love getting to know them, and you might even pick up some new college ministry volunteers in the process. 
  • A small group can still serve. If recruiting hasn't been what you thought it would be for your trip, don't cancel. Regroup. If the project you've chosen isn't feasible with the size of group you have, find another project or team up with another group. Cancellations are a group killer. Make sure students see that you are committed to them and to the mission you have asked them to be a part of. You might want to recruit more of those adult volunteers to fill your team! It will be a great experience for them and for your students. 
What would you add? Share your great ideas and mission trip planning advice with us on Facebook! We want to learn from you! Share with us on our Facebook page. 

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