Today, I got to be a part of the country’s first online training for college ministry. It was free, too!
Led by Todd Cavanaugh (@theBASICguy), BASIC is a college campus ministry based in upstate NY and carries a heavy presence in the region. They run semi-annual conferences that attract thousands of students.
BASIC’s leadership team is comprised of young leaders, many of whom raise their own financial support. As a ministry that serves multiple locations, I’m sure it’s difficult to centralize leaders for training. How to facilitate that when most of your workers are volunteers and spread out geographically? Innovate and bring the conference to them!
Here’s why BASIC Live stands out:
Laser focus – I’ve spoken on college campuses numerous times; Yale, Rutgers, Princeton, UConn, New York, etc. College ministry is NOT youth ministry. Ministering to college students has it’s own unique challenges.
College students are not kids. They’re adults. They have sex. They get drunk. They can actually buy beer to get drunk. They have hard-and-fast opinions on issues and possess the means to live out those opinions, good or bad. The younger of the Boston Marathon bombers was, that’s right, a college student. The stakes are high when ministering to college students. BASIC Live is specialized for college ministries. They know it, have done it, and continue to innovate to do it better.
Diversity of Ministry – There was a good balance of issues and presentations: college pastors, lead pastors, parachurch, local church, worship leaders. I appreciated that the speakers were from all over the country. Even though BASIC is centralized in upstate NY, it’s healthy to get insight from what is working in other regions.
One thing I’d push for is more cultural diversity in the lineup. Minorities make up a pretty significant part of a university’s student body and dominate certain academic fields. This may not be an issue church leaders think much about, but it’s starting to be highlighted and that’s a good thing.
Team-focused – The conference was scheduled for 10:00AM-2:00PM, but the teachings ended around 1:00PM. I caught the end of that to hear one of BASIC’s staff Chris Zeigler (@chris_zeigler) encourage viewers to start planning for their fall campus for the remainder of the day. I’m sure it was an awkward moment for some teams that were watching together, but as one of the speakers Paul Worcester (@PaulWorcester) said, “Awkward conversations change lives.” There ya go, teams.
No-hype content – Preaching to a camera is very different than preaching to a live audience. In this case, it was better. Every speaker had to say something of substance because there was no way to get caught up in how a crowd was reacting. It was practical and each session had high-quality content. As a training conference it did great. Not to say there weren’t inspirational moments, for sure!
Local Church Partnership – What makes BASIC different is that they don’t want your college students. They aren’t a church. They want to help you reach YOUR college students. This is a unique ministry model that adds, rather than subtracts, from the impact of a local church.
If you missed BASIC Live:
Purchase their conference here. This was a free event, but they are doing right by asking for donations. College students generally have strong opinions; one thing they tend to lack: money! BASIC’s leaders made this event free, but like any event there are costs involved. I wasn’t paid for my session and have no problem with that. We’re all in this to reach college campuses, not make a buck.
If you are in college ministry, it’s a no-brainer. If you have college students in your church, it’s a near no-brainer. You’ll learn alot on how to reach the ever-important demographic of college students. Visit theBASICsite.org and follow them on Twitter @theBASICcrew.
For posts related to what I spoke on (Recruiting A Ministry Team) visit these links on my blog:
What’s your greatest challenge in reaching college students for Christ?