Tabling 101

Sam DiStefano Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Event Ideas, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

I know what you are thinking, tabling? Really? I know, I know.  In the world of social media and well designed flyers, who needs to table? Well my friend, YOU do.

For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, tabling refers to setting up a table outside of your dining hall or in your student union to advertise your group. Many groups miss out on this awesome opportunity to easily reach their campus because they just don’t know how to do it well.

Tabling is important because it is a free and easy way to advertise that takes just a little effort on your part. Think about it. Most schools allow groups to reserve tables as often as they would like. That means every week you could be meeting and talking to new students that might not ever have wandered into your weekly meeting on their own. Here are a few tips to take your tabling to the next level.

Make it a Habit

I challenge you to make tabling a regular part of what you do on your campus. It’s easy to table at the student activities fair, or the first few weeks of school, but often tabling drops in importance as the semester goes on. When we make tabling a habit, your campus will start recognizing your group name and have a better understanding of what you do. No matter how big or small your campus is, regularly being out there making connections makes a difference.

Get Creative

Tabling doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t have to just be passing out flyers for your group. Brainstorm ways for your  table to stand out. Do you want to do a Midterm Munchies giveaway and pass out snacks during that week with encouragement? Do you want to make an interactive board and ask passing students to answer questions about life and purpose? Do you want to play games and engage students about the Bible or spiritual questions they might have (click here for a fun game idea)? You know your campus best, so engage students in ways that they would be most intrigued by.

Students always love food and they love free!! Check with your school’s tabling rules and use your budget to help you make your table the coolest around. Think of key holidays ( Valentine’s day, Christmas) and times in the semester (midterms/finals) to reach the most people. Tabling can be a creative tool to love and serve your campus. Check out more ideas here.

Make it Nice

Listen friends, aesthetic is important! Take the time and effort needed to make your table look presentable. That means getting a tablecloth that fits and isn’t dirty. That means having a sign that doesn’t look like a kindergartener made it. That means having a nice and neat table. It might not seem like a lot, but when you put in the extra effort to make your table look appealing, you will see an increase in your table traffic. A clean and well designed table communicates to your peers that you have integrity in all that you do, even the little things.

Be Ready

You may think there isn’t much to tabling, but that just isn’t the case. Not only should you be prepared practically with all the materials you need to set up your table, but spiritually and mentally as well. Pray before you and/or your team tables. Ask God to give you open doors and divine connections. Your attitude at that table speaks volumes to your peers. Are you engaging with people? Are you friendly and kind? Are you genuine? Students will just walk by unless you are willing and ready to break the awkwardness and grab their attention.

Tabling might be one of the most overlooked resources we have on our campuses today. I hope you will use tabling as a tool to reach more people on your campus and get them thinking about God.

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About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Ministry outreach ideas

Optimum Outreach

Sam DiStefano Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Planning, Resources 0 Comments

Whether you have been an advisor or student leader for ages or you have just started, it is always helpful to get new ideas to spark creativity and bring fresh momentum to your ministry. Ultimately, you and your students know your campus best. Take a look at this list of outreach ideas and think of ways your group can adapt it or make it better for your school!

Our heart is to see students encountering and being forever changed by Jesus. You are the hope to your school and I believe God is going to use you to make a difference!

Hold a Campus Blitz

If you are finding a lull in attendance or that students just don’t know your group exists, consider doing a Campus Blitz. You can contact the BASIC office if you would like staff to come and do a focused time of outreach and advertising for your school.

If the staff can’t come, there is no reason you can’t put on one yourself! Get your team together and plan to do a two day event where all hands are on deck. Set up a table in a highly trafficked area, play music (if you can), hand out candy, play games, and most importantly invite people to your meeting!

Have other students handing out info cards throughout campus on this day. You can chalk, paint, set up flyers, make announcements, write on whiteboards, do whatever you can to get the word out about your group! It works best to do this the day before and the day of your meeting.

That night have pizza or snacks, a sign up sheet, and a clear gospel presentation. It is a surefire way to stir up interest and attention for your group, as well as get new people involved and invested!

Organize Major Events

Though this takes effort, pulling off a major event well speaks volumes about your group to your campus. To regularly attract students, consider doing a major event at least once a semester. Here are a few suggestions:

-Bonfire

-BBQ/Pizza Party/Taco Tuesday

-Ice Cream Social

-Hot Dog/Hot Chocolate/Lemonade Giveaway

-Coffeehouse Open Mic Night

-Evangelistic Concert (Check out Circuit Riders)

-Kickball/Volleyball Game

-Campus Wide Capture the Flag

-Campus Wide Scavenger Hunt

-Operation Christmas Child

-Host a Movie Night

-Host a Food Tour Around Local Coffee & Food Stops

-Host a Debate

-Partner with Another Ministry (Guitars for Glory, Ugandan Water Project, etc.)

Holiday & Everyday Hand Outs

College students love free stuff and free food. Think about ways you can work this into your group’s budget. There are many excuses to give out some encouragement and love. Christmas and the candy cane opportunity may have passed, but there are still plenty more.

Consider handing out Valentine’s with scripture on them, or candy with encouragement. Earth day and Easter also present themselves as opportunities. Every year finals come around and giving out granola bars or water bottles with a smile can really be the bright spot in someone’s day.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. Feel free to comment or share any events or outreach ideas that you have seen to be successful! You are making a difference on your campus AND having fun! Keep pressing in and watch what God can do!

About the Author

Sam DiStefano

Twitter

Sam DiStefano went to school at SUNY Geneseo and earned a degree in Childhood with Special Education. It was at college, through BASIC, that she learned what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus. In June 2014, she joined on staff with BASIC and planted a chapter at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY that fall. BASIC has deeply affected Sam’s life and she feels called to help other students experience freedom and hope in Christ.

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

Top 10 Posts Of 2016

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning, Resources, Social Media, Technology 0 Comments

With a new year right around the corner we like to take a look back at the top posts from this year. We appreciate you taking the time to read the blog this year. We know that there are plenty of resources available to leaders and we’re honored that you have chosen us. Our goal is to empower you to take your ministry to the next level and we hope that what our team shares has helped you do that.

Before we close out 2016 here’s a look back at the top 10 posts from this past year determined by how many times they were viewed.

  1. Fun Idea For Meetings: Interactive Trivia Games

    This idea incorporates a fun trivia game that anyone can set up and run for free. You could have it be a fun activity leading up to your meeting or as a way to break up the night.

  2. Why Everyone Should Pray To Be Baptized In The Holy Spirit

    There’s a lot of different perspectives on the third member of the Trinity and His role today. This post breaks down misconceptions about the Holy Spirit and explains why having Him in our lives is so important.

  3. Intentional Leadership Education & Training

    This was a guest post from Ryan Raflowski, a leader at the SUNY Oswego BASIC group. He shares about a workshop series they put together to communicate more intentionally with their group leading up to the election of student leaders.

  4. Rejoice In The Middle

    In life, we can allow ourselves to be disappointed with the process of becoming. Sometimes we need help to refocus our gaze from the struggle and circumstances we are in to the greatness and faithfulness of Him who called us.

  5. 16 Inspirational Quotes for 2016

    This post is exactly as advertised – 16 quick quotes that we gave you to kick off 2016. If you keep an eye out you might pick up on a theme next week.

  6. How Anyone Can Do Great Graphic Design For Free

    Great graphic design is hard to come by and often costs a lot of money. But it doesn’t have to. Here are some free resources that can take the headache and hassle out of designing something for your ministry.

  7. Authenticity In The Age Of Duplicity

    Students have been taught to question everything and they do. In this ever changing time, students long for some stability and authenticity. Let’s lead them to the most authentic love they will ever encounter.

  8. The Why Behind What We Do

    This short post from Sam DiStefano is a great reminder of the effect campus ministry has had on history and why it’s so important.

  9. 3 Practical Ways To Activate Your Prayer Life

    Prayer is something we all know we should do more of, but often it gets overlooked. Most of us have a desire to pray more, but saying it and actually doing it are two different things. Here are some practical ways to increase your prayer life.

  10. How To Be A Leader Amal Zeidan shares about how the secular leadership principles from the book The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership have a Biblical foundation that can also apply to those leading in a Christian context.

So, those are the top 10 posts from 2016 all collected in one place so you can easily catch up on anything you missed. Thanks for reading and have a happy New Year!

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Go The Extra Mile

Go The Extra Mile

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development, Planning 0 Comments

We’ve all heard the phrase “go the extra mile,” but did you know it comes from the Bible? It actually comes from the most famous sermon in the Bible when Jesus is preaching His sermon on the mount. In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about how to treat our enemies or anyone who wrongs us and then He goes on to say this:

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.Matthew 5:41

That’s a powerful statement. Especially considering that He says this in the context of how we approach those who disagree with us or want to do us harm. It’s something good to remember with the current cultural context we live in, but I think there’s another application we can take from this that applies specifically to campus ministry.

When students come to campus they are bombarded by activities, events and opportunities. There’s so much available to them that it can be hard to get their attention. Every day people pass each other in the hallway and miss opportunities to form new friendships. Students might stop by your table and then never visit a meeting. They may check out your meeting one week and then you never see them again.

How many people would come to your meetings if students started getting intentional about forming relationships? Wouldn’t it be great if you could get people to do more than just stop by or visit once? How much would your group change if every person who came to your ministry came back? Now, to get a 100% return rate is unrealistic, but I believe that if you implement the principle of going the extra mile you’ll be surprised by the growth you see.

Let me explain a little more what I mean by going the extra mile. I’m talking about doing something so nice and unexpected that it makes a lasting impression. Sometimes it’s about putting on a big event and other times it’s about meeting a need. It could be a big or small gesture, as long as it’s memorable. This is the wow factor that makes your table stand out at the club fair or makes reputation of your meetings spread all over campus.

For example, years ago we helped the Binghamton BASIC group table at their college’s club fair. The leaders had ordered collapsible water bottles with the BASIC logo printed on them to hand out for free. They were very cheap and the idea didn’t take much to implement, but they stood out from what everyone else was doing. This small concept generated a lot of buzz and students kept coming to the table to hear about BASIC all because they had heard about these water bottles.

To meet a need and form relationships you could organize and advertise free tutoring with students from your group providing the instruction in subjects they are strong in. 

If you’re looking to do something more unexpected you could implement the idea my friend came up with for his youth group. Every time a new person visits they have them write down a Chipotle order and then they buy it for them if they come to the group the following week. If you’re like me, nothing beats a free burrito and that’s something I wouldn’t be expecting when I visit a club for the first time.

On a bigger scale, you could plan an event that really stands out and gets attention on campus. A number of years back I suggested this Love is coming. Love is here. event that I think would be amazing to put on around Valentine’s Day. 

That’s just a few ideas to get you thinking, but you get the picture. It’s not so much about using one of my specific ideas as it is about looking for ways to go the extra mile in a way that leaves a lasting impression and makes someone feel welcomed and cared for.

So, what are some ways you could implement that concept as you plan for the spring semester? How could you do this personally as you interact with people during the Christmas season and beyond? How can you go the extra mile?

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Reaching your campus context

Reaching Your Campus Context

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Leadership, Planning 0 Comments

When I began working with BASIC in 2009, my wife and I were tasked with starting a college ministry at SUNY Geneseo and Monroe Community College (MCC). These two colleges couldn’t be more different. SUNY Geneseo is set among corn fields in a small rural town, while MCC is positioned on the south side of Rochester and boasts an enrollment twice the size of the entire city of Geneseo.

It didn’t take us long to figure out that what worked on one of those campuses didn’t always work on the other. The apostle Paul gave us an incredible strategy for evangelism when he wrote to the Corinthian church saying,

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

Paul realized the importance of studying your current context and tailoring your message in a way that will reach that context. Missionaries do the same thing when they go to a new country. They must learn the culture and the people; the tribe they want to reach. Since your college campus is a mission field, and knowing that campuses can vary widely from one to another, how can you best reach your campus context? Let’s look at it in three steps.

Experience Your “Tribe”

Observation is the first step in determining your campus context. Walk around campus to see where students are hanging out. Eat meals with students on campus and spend time in the dorms. Go to athletic events. Work out with students at the campus gym and attend events at the college. Observing the culture firsthand is always the best way to pick up on what’s going on and what the student body is like.

Learn Your “Tribe”

As you spend time with students on campus start asking questions that will help you learn more about them. Here’s a bunch of good questions to get you started:

  • How many students live in dorms/commute?
  • What are the most common majors?
  • What are the most popular activities/events with students?
  • Do students spend a lot of time studying?
  • What groups are the most influential on campus?
  • What is the overarching perspective of Christianity on the campus?
  • What percentage of each ethnicity is represented?
  • How many international students are there?
  • What are the biggest struggles people deal with (ask counseling services)?
  • What are other clubs/ministries doing on your campus that are successful and what can you learn from them?

If possible, you could also go on the freshman or incoming students tour to learn more about the campus. You can also put together brief surveys to do among students that will help you gather information so you can better serve the campus.

Reach Your “Tribe”

This is when you take what you’ve learned and apply it. Look at the current context of your group and what you’ve learned about your campus context to decide how to plan events/activities and advertising that will reach that context.

For example, when I was at Oswego I came across an event put on by the Black Student Union called Casino Night. The place was packed and people were having a great time. I happened to walk through a couple hours later and not only was the event still going, but many of the same people were there.

Now, I’m not advocating that you do a casino night, but people loved this event because they got to hang out, play fun games and they had the chance of winning big prizes. You can easily take away ideas from an event like this and implement them into your own activities.

Before I wrap this up let me offer two more words of advice on studying your context. First, make sure that you don’t let your personal background inform your observations of the campus. You can’t avoid this entirely, but as much as possible try to view the campus through fresh eyes.

Second, remember that you can’t reach every people group on campus at the same time. If there are other Christian groups on campus it could be helpful to see who they’re targeting and then find your niche based on what you’ve learned. Your group might be best positioned to attract the intellectuals or the international students. It’s also likely that the audience you attract will change as time goes on and the campus climate adapts.

Now I want to hear from you! What are some things you’ve already observed about your campus context?

 

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

How anyone can do great graphic design for free

How Anyone Can Do Great Graphic Design For Free

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Resources, Social Media, Technology 0 Comments

It’s back to school time and you need to get the word out about your meetings and events as soon as possible. But you don’t want your posters or other advertising to blend in with everyone else’s and you definitely don’t want it to stand out because it looks like something a sixth grader designed (no offense to the sixth graders out there). When you have terrible graphics it can feel discouraging, but when you have amazing graphics you can feel like you’re on top of the world!

Great graphic design is hard to come by and often costs a lot of money. But it doesn’t have to. I’ve come across several resources that can help anyone create trendy and stylish designs for free. Whether you’re looking to put together social media graphics, posters, touch cards or powerpoint slides for your announcements, these tools will help you design something that looks great.

Your first stop is a website called Canva. You have to set up a free account and then you should take a quick tour to make sure you understand how to use it. This website provides tons of free templates specific to the size you need your graphics to be and it’s all done online.

There’s no software to download or buy and you can learn how to use it in 10 minutes. Just for fun I created the graphic for this post using Canva and it took me 15 minutes. There are some templates you need to pay for, but there are plenty available for free.

Just remember some simple rules for creating great graphics. No overtly Christian images (crosses, doves, flames, etc.) or cheesy Christian phrases (like “do life together”). And definitely no clip art. Stick to the fonts that Canva has put in the templates (no Curlz or Papyrus here) and keep your text to a minimum. Include the day, time and location with a short phrase that describes who you are. We often use “Do College Differently.”

That phrase doesn’t fully describe what BASIC is, but really the best way for someone to figure it out is by visiting your group any way. Most people aren’t going to stop in the hall to read your entire poster. They just need to catch the gist of it as they walk by on their way to class, so make sure you can read it from about 10 feet away. And if you include the BASIC logo on all your stuff it helps people make the connection. You can download the logo on our Leaders page.

Now, what often helps make a great design is having engaging images. You could go to Google search and just rip off anything you see, but often the images are too small to look good and most of them are subject to copyright. I’m pretty sure no one goes into college thinking they’ll end up in prison because they created a poster for their college ministry. Enter Unsplash.

This website has high quality, high resolution and professional looking photos all under a creative commons zero license (meaning you can do whatever you want with them without paying a dime). Once you start searching this site you’ll probably recognize many of the pictures we use for blog posts here.

Last, but certainly not least, we’ve put together some new poster templates for you to use to advertise your BASIC chapter. These are custom designs put together by the BASIC staff that you won’t find anywhere else. Just download the file, open in Microsoft Word and change the text with your information. It’s even simpler than Canva!

And don’t forget that there are plenty of other free resources for your group that can always be found on that same Leaders page. Happy designing!

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Create a seeker friendly environment so people feel welcome in your campus ministry and church

Creating A Seeker Friendly Environment

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Evangelism, Planning 0 Comments

I remember my first time attending a campus ministry when I went to college. I walked into a small classroom with about ten people in it. There was no clear direction as to what was going to happen and I wasn’t even sure where I should sit. I felt awkward as I tried to make conversation with complete strangers.

Then the worship leader made their best attempt to strum a few chords and get through a couple songs. Thankfully, I met some people who seemed cool and decided to give it another try, but it was pretty rough. I was a Christian and even I felt uncomfortable there!

I hate to say it, but churches and campus ministry meetings can be some of the most awkward places to visit. Most people have preconceived ideas about Christians before they even walk through the door. In a culture where many already see Christians as intolerant and unloving, we want people to feel as welcome as possible.

This starts with the moment they see our posters, meet someone at a table or show up to our meeting. Being seeker friendly isn’t about changing the core of what you do, it’s about helping people feel welcome in a culture that’s unfamiliar. It’s all about the environment you create, so here’s some ways to make people feel welcome right from their first interaction with your ministry.

Advertising

If you hang posters on campus or hand out invites make sure they don’t have any typical Christian symbols on them. You should avoid fishes, doves, crosses, flames, etc. You’re not looking to hide what your club is all about, but many people have certain emotions that they immediately associate with those images.

Instead of using those symbols you can put a short, simple description that makes it clear for people. Because BASIC stands for Brothers and Sisters in Christ you can just put that text on your advertising. You could also use a simple sentence like, “A place to learn more about God and encourage one another.” Whatever you choose, make sure to keep it simple and concise.

Setting An Atmosphere

There’s a number of things you can do to set a great atmosphere for when new people come to your meetings. We like to have popular music that everyone would know playing when people first come in. It’s easy to find a Spotify playlist for this or create your own.

Make sure there’s some good food available. College students love to eat (really, who doesn’t?) and most people are willing to be more social when there is food involved. If you put out some great food and give people time to hang out it creates an environment that encourages interaction and engagement.

Find a way to incorporate something fun into your meetings. If your meeting only consists of worship, announcements and someone sharing a message then students will most likely be bored (or asleep) by the end. Remember, they’ve sat in classes for a couple hours, so provide something fun to break things up. Here’s a post I wrote with ideas for ice breakers that are actually fun.

Welcoming People

At large group meetings have at least one person at the door every week with an email signup list for newcomers, greeting everyone with a smile and helping them feel welcome. If they have questions they should feel comfortable asking that person.

It’s good to look around your meeting and find one person you don’t know and talk to them and ask them to sit with you as a way to make them feel welcome and start building a relationship. Try to find one thing you have in common with them. Once you find common ground they will feel more welcomed and interested in coming back.

Years ago I read a post from Benson Hines suggesting that each group have a designated “social connector.” This is someone who is friendly and knows a lot of people in your group and their interests. They are designated to connect with new people and look for interests they would have in common with others in the group. After they have met someone new they can help facilitate connections and start up conversation.

The most important thing to remember is that making people feel welcome takes effort. It never happens passively.

So, consider how much more uncomfortable visiting your weekly meeting can be for those who are unchurched or unaccustomed to an evangelical setting. We don’t have to remove every single aspect that could make people uncomfortable (worship is probably seen as odd to unbelievers). But if our goal is to reach the lost, and it should be our goal, we have to be aware of the environment we’re creating.

It’s important to remember that if people don’t want to come back we’ve missed out on our mission.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

Reaching men in your college campus ministry and church

How To Reach More Men In Your Ministry

Chris Zeigler Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, Event Ideas, Planning 2 Comments

You may have noticed that men are like an endangered species in your college ministry and church. There’s so few that they’re likely to become extinct. You may not have noticed as much in your church because often men still hold many prominent roles, but in many campus ministries the leadership team is primarily made up of women.

It’s a trend that has been increasing over time as men seem less and less interested in Christian activities. We’ve seen a nearly 2 to 1 ratio of women to men at BASICcon. Put another way that means that men make up just one third of those who attend our conference. And that number is right in line with what researchers have found when asking how many men attend church weekly.

If we’re honest, we can see that going to a campus ministry or church meeting doesn’t feel very manly. These meetings usually involve singing, sitting around sharing feelings, praying out loud and listening to someone speak about love and the state of our hearts for half an hour. In some ministries if a man can make it out of the service without getting hugged that’s a big win.

David Murrow says, “The women in the church always outshine the men because their natural feminine gifts make them so much better at the spiritual work of today’s church: relating, emoting, nurturing, and offering verbal expression.” Clearly he’s generalizing a little bit here. There are definitely men who excel in those areas and not every church is centered around them, but I think that overall he makes a good point about how we normally do church.

But Jesus started the church by working with 12 men, so we know He considered men an integral part of His plan to save the world. I don’t remember a time in the Bible that He was known for singing or even asked the disciples to pray out loud. Jesus was known for the miracles He performed and stories He shared in sermons. He daily walked with the disciples and modeled how to live a godly life. His process involved action, not simply sitting in a meeting.

So, how can we do a better job of reaching men in our ministries? I recently finished reading a book about this problem and how to address it. It’s not as simple as just adding a men’s ministry or creating a men’s small group. In fact, studies show those types of programs rarely work.

There’s a number of things you can do to adjust your ministry so men are more comfortable and likely to come back without completely changing the scope of what you do. Start by examining everything you do through the eyes of a man or by talking with some men who come and asking them what aspects of your meeting make them feel most uncomfortable.

Here’s some practical changes you could make/things to avoid:

  • Use masculine imagery in advertising – I’m not talking chainsaws and superheroes, but you don’t need to cover your posters with flowers and hearts. We have created some great flyer templates for you to use and should have some new ones coming soon. We’ve come a long way in this area over the last couple years, but we still have some work to do.
  • Don’t arrange chairs in a circle – I’ve talked about this before, but most men (and people in general) feel awkward with people across the circle staring at them throughout the meeting. Plus it makes it harder to sneak in and just check out a meeting to see what you’re all about.
  • Avoid corporate prayer – Praying out loud is uncomfortable for many people. You don’t have to cut out prayer altogether. Leaders can pray to start the meeting or end worship and if you really want to incorporate group prayer make it overly clear that no one needs to feel pressured to pray (and make sure the one man who’s new isn’t the only one who doesn’t pray).
  • Cut down or cut out worship – There aren’t too many places where organized group singing is a normal practice. Keep worship to just a few songs (2-3) or don’t do it at all. Focus on playing more upbeat, fast songs and less introspective, slow songs. Some of the things we sing are just weird like, “From my mother’s womb You have chosen me. Love has called my name. I’ve been born again into your family. Your blood flows through my veins.” You can still hold a worship night outside of your weekly meeting so those who really enjoy worship have a place to participate in longer, more intimate times of worship.
  • Use visuals when preaching – Men tend to be more visual than women. Incorporate YouTube videos, pictures or diagrams into your sermons. My pastor uses videos frequently and he often brings a sketchpad on stage to draw diagrams that explain concepts.
  • Move around during the meeting – Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not one for sitting around for an hour or more without moving much. I even have a standing desk at work (yeah, I’m one of those). Find a fun game to play at some point in your meeting that involves getting up and moving around. People will laugh and this will create a way for men to connect with others and form friendships while bypassing awkward conversations. You could even consider holding your meeting outside once in awhile when the weather is nice as long as you communicate it well ahead of time.
  • Give men something to do – I’ve heard it said that women bond face-to-face while men bond side by side. This is why men gravitate toward activities like playing and watching sports, hunting/fishing, playing videogames, working on cars, doing service projects, etc. I just attended a conference that gave us the task of doing a service project helping a school clean out a room full of books from decades ago. It was fun getting to know some of the men and connecting with them as we did dumpster runs. Offer some opportunities for service projects in the community or on campus.
  • Hold male specific social events – Super Bowl parties, kickball games, videogame tournaments, camping trips and other similar activities are great events that men feel like they can invite other male friends to without feeling awkward about it.

Those are just some quick thoughts for you as you plan for the fall semester. I’m sure you can come up with more if you start to look at your ministry through a different perspective. I’m not advocating that you create some kind of overly macho, adrenaline packed, completely male dominated culture. But I see the lack of men in our ministries and I know God wants to see a generation of men and women rising up to impact the world with the Gospel.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

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Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

About the Author

Chris Zeigler

Twitter

Chris Zeigler is the Assistant Director of BASIC. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego campus and has never lost his heart for college students since then. He and his wife, Cheryl, have started BASIC groups at three colleges in NY. Outside of work you can hear him talking about his reluctant love for the Oakland Raiders, see him using his iPhone to get "the perfect shot" to feed his love for photography and playing with his adorable kids.

BASIC Live - Free online leadership training for college ministry.

A Leader in the Making

Amal Zeidan Advertising & Recruiting, Advisors & Student Leaders, BASIC Crew, Evangelism, Event Ideas, Leadership, Personal Development 0 Comments

How can we as leaders, or potential leaders, be prepared for the next steps of our life? If you are a Christian, you already know that you were not meant to live an average life. Simply making it through the day with cute baby videos or tiny kittens in coffee cups is probably not what the Lord had in mind for you when he called you to be a son or daughter of the Most High God.

There is a special call on our lives to be bold as lions, yet gentle as doves. I can’t think of anyone that has lived out this call better than Jesus Himself. The example of Christ is one in which all our eyes should be turned to, not only to observe in amazement, but to allow Him to transform us into His likeness. Though this can be carried out through many ways, one way is to take heed from others who have spent enough time drawing close to Christ and have dedicated much of their lives adhering to the call that the Lord has given them. When speaking to the church of Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells the church to, “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” It is a good thing to learn from others and to seek wisdom and knowledge.

For this very reason, BASIC has put together a half-day leadership training just for you, BASIC Live. How exciting is it to know that a bunch of people care to equip you with the right tools to make you a more effective leader on your campus?

You don’t think you’re a leader? The Bible says otherwise! And rest assured, you are not alone. I never thought of myself as a leader either. You know that public speaking class we have to take in undergrad; I took three times and not because I loved it so much; I was terrible at it. I was shy and unaware with zero confidence to my name. I had nothing to offer anyone, until the Lord said I am His child and with that comes new everything.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.2 timothy 1:7

He equips us with everything we don’t think we have and everything we need to be a leader in His name. This training brings speakers from all walks of life to empower us to walk in that promise of power, love and self-discipline. Our campuses need leaders who have God on their side and who are prepared to take on the opposition. This is only the first step into reaching the full potential we were meant to carry out.

This is the only free college ministry leadership training so take advantage of it. Much will be said that can inspire you to take that last step needed to stand up boldly for your campus or where every God has planted you. From information on counseling and identity maintenance to practical steps for growing your group, it’s all at BASIC Live. Get plugged in and soak up the goodness!

This college ministry training event will stream to your campus, office, or dorm. The speakers include, Fred Antonelli, Esther Rock, Sam DiStefano and Nick Nilson (and that’s only less than half). Check out if there’s a Hot Spot near you or stream it from the comfort of your own home. 

Here are the details: This Saturday April 30th from 1 – 4 PM (EDT)

Hot Spots (starts at noon): Albany, Binghamton, North Country, Rochester, Syracuse and Long Island 

For more info and to register, visit thebasicsite.org/events/basiclive

 

 

About the Author

Amal Zeidan

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Amal Zeidan is a student leader for the BASIC group at Long Island University. While pursuing her Masters in Nutrition, Amal has conducted several successful debates on the Post campus of LIU. Her work at the university over the last two years has brought 'God' out of the church walls and in to the public forum. If she's not in class, Amal can be seen talking to students and engaging them with the truth of the Gospel. Keep up with her journey at JesusChrist.nyc.