Let’s Create a Culture of Sharing in College Ministry

July 28, 2014 — 19 Comments

4 years ago I started blogging with this:3773116901_35e2eba130_m

“Inspired by others who have taken the time to share their thoughts/learnings/resources I thought I would stop mooching and start contributing to the conversation.”

2 years ago I challenged Cru staff to start sharing better (on CruPressGreen).

It’s time to beat the drum again.

Russ Martin brilliantly summed it up in this 2010 post that is packed with wisdom that has shaped my thinking and my calendar:

What if you spent 10% of your time online collaborating with others on how to get better at college ministry? Few people set on reaching university students view spending intentional time online to learn and share with others as a worthwhile cost/benefit.

I suggest every person who desires to see millions of students bringing the gospel to every corner of every campus should tithe of their time online to share tips, resources, ideas, struggles and stories. The mission can’t be executed by creating trade secrets, hoarding knowledge, or protecting resources.

The platforms exist, but a mindset of collaboration doesn’t. By spending five minutes to upload the presentation from your last small group leader training you could save someone hours. Tweeting the articles you’re reading helps identify valuable insights we can all benefit from.

Do you think the eternal rewards of investing 10% of your online time could be worth it and make the other 90% of time more effective? There’s probably someone who knows a lot more about reaching students than you. There’s probably someone who could really benefit from what you know about reaching students. If we’re all on the same team, for the same mission, for the same King, then why aren’t we talking?

“If we’re all on the same team, for the same mission, for the same King, then why aren’t we talking?”

Let that sink in. Why aren’t we talking?

5165377895_ccd93e6654_mIn the last few years I’ve been discouraged to see not more online chatter in college ministry but less, especially within my organization – Cru. There have been a few bright spots in college ministry sharing – I’m looking at you Arliss Dickerson and Paul Worcester – but we could do so much better.

We are all consumers wishing more people would share good resources with us.

We need more sharers.

Our Cru movement at the University of Arkansas has been the recipient of incredible sharing.

Nothing we do on our campus is original. Our ministry has benefitted tremendously from importing (and adapting to our setting) the best practices of campuses across the U.S. In the past few years we’ve implemented ideas from Cru movements at:

University of Arizona – Chico State – Ohio University – Penn State – NC State – Portland Metro – Ontario, Canada – University of Oklahoma – Texas Tech – Montana State – University of Florida – St. Louis Metro – Cal Poly SLO – Miami, Ohio – Michigan State – Northwestern

For years it was a one-way street – receiving great ideas but not reciprocating.

For me it came down to cost/benefit in regard to time. I didn’t do much about idea sharing because I wasn’t sure the time invested would be worth the pay off: if I start blogging, not many people would see it or be helped by it (i.e – it will take me 4 hours to write a post and 4 people will read it).”

Like all good investments, a minimal investment can have multiplying effects. It costs me some time to share on Twitter and my blog but I can save literally hundreds of hours for a multitude of staff to get on campus and spend time with students (instead of re-writing a talk someone has already given).

Let’s create a culture of sharing in college ministry.

2 steps to start sharing:

  • Start tweeting.Twitter seems to be the best pipeline for information sharing and distribution.4990131757_78e6180c2d_o
    • Set aside time every week to get on Twitter and not just consume but share.
    • Actively seek out twitter conversations with other college ministers.
    • Using the #collegemin hashtag is a helpful place to start.
    • Post your Twitter username in the comments so I and other college ministers can connect with you (here’s mine: @timcasteel)
  • Share what you’ve found helpful. Start a Tumblr or a blog. Share dropbox links to talks you’ve given or articles you’ve found helpful. Comment on the blogs of those who are producing and sharing. Join the conversation so that we can all learn from each other.

Would love to hear what you think-

College Ministers, what steps can we take to share more?

 

images courtesy of Toban BlackEmilio Quintana, & C!…

timcasteel

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P.S. - I'd love to connect with you on Twitter: here
  • Sasha Hallock

    Tim,

    Thanks for your heart and for leading the charge to create a culture of sharing within college ministry. I totally agree, and I am on board! For a few years now, I have been seeking resources for the local level (and lots of yours have been helpful!).

    In many ways each local movement operates autonomously from other movements, some develop great resources, some don’t. This discrepancy doesn’t sit well with me. Many times we devote lots of energy and time to creating things from scratch (re-inventing the wheel) when there are talented people who have already done it or could do it. I’m passionate about freeing up staff to do what they do best, and that often isn’t graphic design, web design, etc.

    I have this vision of Cru as a vast warehouse of resources locked up in different rooms. In one room is a staff team wracking their brains for quality photography for a fall poster while next door is a staff team with excellent stock photos ready to go. They both don’t each other exist. Thanks for knocking on the wall!

    • Couldn’t agree more with this comment!

    • timcasteel

      Sasha – love your heart and totally agree. Let’s keep the ball rolling on this and see if we can’t connect some of those rooms in the vast warehouse!

  • Ram1006

    @ram1006 ECU / NSCU campus missionary

  • Jeff Woolstenhulme

    Hmm many great points Tim. I appreciate how you have taken the time to share with me on a personal level. I desire to do the same.

    I have a question for you though… I have only been leading a ministry for a year and in college ministry for four years all together. Shouldnt I get more experience before I start sharing strategy and stuff that I haven’t seen played out yet?

    What’s the best way for a young leader like myself to be a part of the conversation?

    • Jason Leonard

      Everyone likes new ideas. Even if they aren’t good, at least we can learn from them. But you can always lead with questions if that is more comfortable for you. The reality is, we are all called to a particular people in a particular place and time, so very little of what we do can be copy and pasted w/o any discernment. Typically, in conversation with other ministers you will discover your blind spots and come away excited to more effectively serve ________ (seniors, greek students, freshmen, local churches, the campus, etc).

    • timcasteel

      That’s a great question, Jeff. Like Jason said (below), I think leading with questions is a great place to start. You may not (yet!) be a fount of wisdom and experience but you can be a collector of great college ministry insight. And, as you learn, you can disseminate that wisdom. That’s mostly what I do – pick the brains of the best in college ministry and seek to share their incredible insights with as many people as possible. Leaders are learners. Just share what you’re learning!

  • Great post Tim! I’ve long felt some of the same things… and although I’ve blogged about different ideas and issues, I don’t know that I’ve ever shared something as simple as a message I just preached, or presentation I’ve recently shared. Thanks for that great idea.

    @guychmieleski

    • timcasteel

      Thanks for taking time to comment, Guy. You are definitely one of the pioneers of online sharing in college ministry – you’ve been leading in this area for many years. Thanks for paving the way!

  • Jason Leonard

    I’ve been meeting with some random college ministers from around the nation every year for the last decade. Even with staff changes, we’ve continued to talk together and have regular Google Hangouts where we tackle questions about different aspects of our ministry. It’s been fantastic and I highly recommend connecting with other college ministers.

    • timcasteel

      That’s great Jason – love the idea of regular Google Hangouts with other college ministers. Are you on Twitter, Jason?

  • Good thoughts Tim. Lets keep sharing. I welcome any blog posts that fit well at http://www.releasetheape.com its totally a community site. @beaucrosetto

  • Jon Hietbrink

    Tim–

    Really appreciate your post, and wholeheartedly believe that greater collaboration within and between existing movements could help us reach more students and more campuses. The siloed culture that currently exists creates an environment where we’re not even in conversation with folks doing similar work in similar places, and would love to see this change!

    Though it’s not set-up to handle resource sharing at this point, some friends and I have been trying to move the ball forward in just this kind of way via http://www.releasetheAPE.com (releasing Apostolic, Prophetic, and Evangelistic leadership), and we just created a Forum that might be helpful to help provide a platform for some of these conversations.

    @jonhietbrink

    • timcasteel

      That’s great Jon (and Beau!). It seems like the intentions are good in our organizations (at the national level) but few are taking the time to actively share. Thanks for being a part of the solution through releasetheAPE.com.
      I don’t think it’s just between orgs though – there’s plenty of silos within Cru.
      Any thoughts on what we can do to encourage (and make it easier for) all college ministry staff to share better? Seems like getting everyone talking on Twitter is a baby step forward…

      • Jon Hietbrink

        Tim- not sure I have many great ideas, but definitely recognize the issue. Seems counterintuitive to me, but we consistently have a difficult time getting even IV folks to share resources, particularly when it’s at a distance (which is of course or organizational reality more often than not).

        One idea that is getting more traction (and could also be a precursor to wider sharing) is being intentional about using space where folks ARE in the same place to do peer coaching blocks. We’ll generally allot 60-90 minutes for groups of 4, and then have each person bring a focused problem/opportunity to the group and then let the group “thinktank it” for 15-20 minutes.

        It’s been remarkable in my experience how many quality ideas are generated, and it seems to give folks a taste of what fruitful collaboration might look like (which can then contribute toward the greater cultural shift regarding resource sharing, etc.) Any best practices within CRU that you’re aware of?

        • timcasteel

          Love the peer coaching blocks idea – is that on site (not Skype)? And are those team leaders meeting together? Or staff from different teams?

          Within Cru there’s not much. There’s a little chatter on Twitter. And some sharing within regions (mostly over email). Google+ communities seem promising but no one ever gets on Google+. Everyone’s open to sharing, but I’m not aware of much sharing actually going on.

          • Jon Hietbrink

            Hey Tim-
            Yep, the first time we did it was onsite at a national conference where we all were anyway–this seemed helpful to give a really positive experience of it (I’m hoping it’ll help grease the wheels for more virtual experiences in the future).

            Our group was made up of what we call “Area Directors”–staff who supervise anywhere a swath of territory (from 5-20+ campuses).

            I’d encourage you to think about pulling together some “early adopters” from CRU at a national gathering for something like this…gotta start somewhere, ya know?

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