It has been a busy start to the semester! Now that the initial rush is over for many of us, it is a good time to stop and reflect on all that has happened, as well as find time for rest. We asked three college ministers to give us their input: Shannon Hughes, Campus minister at Auburn University and Southern Union State Community College; David Griffin, BSM Director at East Texas Baptist University; and Bo Griswold, Minister to College and Young Professionals at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN.
What is something that you learned this year during the start of the new school year?
David Griffin: I would say that I have learned that, as the college minister, you need to be the Chief Greeting Officer for the first few events. Yes, have students help you, but don’t neglect to personally engage with your new students – and attempt to remember their names!
Bo Griswold: I’ve learned that the more we focus on equipping students towards evangelism and missions, the healthier our outreach and growth becomes.
Shannon Hughes: Our efforts in the summer to connect with new students before they arrive always pay off. A personal contact is still the most important and effective way to get students to give your ministry a try. I had several students tell us the handwritten card and individual texts they received from one of our student leaders was the reason they came to our welcome week event.
What is something you have done differently this year?
DG: We started off the year with a Men’s Breakfast event (I have never done one in the first three weeks of the school year). We have a desire to reach more men, so we are purposely seeking to engage them early. I ordered the best burritos in town, put out word to all the men’s athletic teams, and sent advertisements all over the campus.
BG: I gave my students more leadership opportunities and checked in more often with those students who have those positions.
SH: We brought back campus tours as part of our welcome week events. It had been several years since we had done them. It was a great first connection point for our student leaders and freshmen. It will be something we bring back on a permanent basis.This year, as part of our recruiting during the summer, we asked students from our freshmen orientation to complete a Google link form for a free gift. We mailed students who completed the form a BCM sticker, a Toomer’s Corner Lemonade gift card ( a uniquely Auburn University tradition) as well as information about our upcoming events. I heard from several students who participated in our welcome week events that it was appreciated.
How are you finding rest?
DG: The start of the year can be hectic, but it is important to find a time to rest and recharge with your family. There may be days that have back-to-back(-to-back) large events, but hopefully, you will then be able to take a day over the weekend where nothing is expected of you (warning: this may not happen in the first week back to school). If you can, look at the student engagement calendar for your school and try not to book events when they have events. This will show the campus that you are a team player. Beyond this, they might also seek to schedule around your events – that is a big win! And, to the question, at hand… use the student engagement’s event night as your break. Sure you might go to some of these events, but you certainly don’t need to be at all of them.
BG: I find rest by saying no to being with students on Fridays and Saturdays (unless we have a big event). Those two days go to time with family, which I find rest in.
SH: I try to step away from the office/building for a few minutes during the really long days. I ask people in my life who understand the demands of the early weeks of the semester to pray specifically for me to make time for rest and hold me accountable to make time for it in my week.
We here at Collegeministry.com are praying for continued fruit from those first few weeks of the fall, as well as for good rest for you as ministers! For more ideas on rest, check out this article by Beth Smith: A Rhythm of Rest: Making Rest a Regular Part of Ministry.