Oct 24, 2016


How to Build a BAD Reputation on Campus

Caleb Craft gives us a how-to for developing a bad reputation with campus administrators.

We recently discussed how collegiate ministries can be a “good neighbor” to campus administration and build healthier relationships with staff. Now I’m no C.S. Lewis, but I thought it might be fun to flip the conversation and take a Screwtape-style look at the topic.

Here is my top four list of how NOT to build great relationships and reputation on your campus.

1. Ignore the rules.
They’re more like guidelines anyways. The Student Center says don’t bring food into that room? Sounds like the perfect place for a pizza night! Non-residents can’t enter the dorms? Who’s really going to notice if you sneak in behind some freshmen and knock on doors? Hey, our kingdom is not of this world, right? Sure, they might eventually kick us off campus, disband our student organization, and keep us from fulfilling our mission – but at least we will know we stood our ground.

2. Don’t let students lead the student-led organization.
We know that institutions provide resources for on-campus groups because they give students opportunities to grow in leadership and community building … but let’s be serious. Students can’t be trusted to have real world responsibilities within our ministries! It’s best to leave that up to the professionals. Do yourself a favor. Recruit a couple students to be “official” officers – just tell them they’ll only need to sign a paper once a year – and then run literally everything without student input.

Now some (and by “some” I mean everyone in the administration) might say that this is student-puppeteering, and a dishonest use of university resources, but I like to call it reverse-delegation! Afterall, what purpose would we have to give students meaningful roles in ministry and leadership on their own campus?

3. Give ‘em the old bait and switch.
Students and administrators love this one with equal fervor! Think of an event title that your campus would be interested in attending. Something like “Fall Food Fest” or “Dialogues around Difference”. This tricks people into going – and then you surprise them with Christian programming that has almost nothing to do with the title. They’ll love it! For example, you could have a “film night”, but then show The Passion of The Christ followed up with a 40 minute gospel presentation for good measure. It’s like stumbling onto that fake $100 bill that is actually a gospel track. Who doesn’t love those?!

4. Put your interest above everyone else’s.
This last one is the most important. If you want bad relationships on campus, then only concern yourself with the needs of your own agenda. Don’t think about your campus’ administration as people, just think about them as means to the resources that your ministry needs. Don’t think about the needs of students, faculty, and staff at your institution – you have a ministry to run! If you start thinking about creative ways to serve these people, you might just end up with great working relationships and new, open doors of ministry opportunities on your campus. And who really wants that to happen?!

about the author

Caleb Craft

Caleb is a pastor with Newlife Church in Columbus, OH and also works in student development at Ohio State University.