May 15, 2017


What Vanilla Ice Can Teach Collegiate Leaders

Mitch Tidwell taps into 90s culture to give you some college ministry advice from an unlike source – Vanilla Ice.

What if I told you that you are two relationships away from a ministry breakthrough? Or what if I told you that you are two relationships away from solving your biggest ministry problem?

Many of us are guilty of seeking out the silver bullet. We look for it in a program or ministry philosophy. Don’t get me wrong, programs and ministry philosophies are good, but often times the silver bullet (if there even is a silver bullet) may be the voice in the church or ministry next to yours. Get this: your voice may be the silver bullet for them too!

God has placed you where you are at for a certain time and for a certain reason. He has gifted you in such a way to accomplish what he has placed you there to do. Believe this. God has also placed men and women around you with gifts that will enhance your ministry to make it more holistic and fruitful.

For many of us we need to heed the advice of the great ministry strategist, Vanilla Ice. Yes, that one. His advice?

Stop, collaborate and listen.

1. Stop

Stop—reflect on what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.

I spoke with a college pastor this last week who sent 95 college students on a Spring Break mission trip. 95! It blew my mind. I asked him if he would be interested in talking about how their ministry gets that many students on board for a future Collective article. He responded as if he didn’t have anything to give. I told him, I don’t know of any other ministry in Texas (there might be but I haven’t heard of one) that sends that many students out on a single trip. I told him, “You’re doing something well and others need to hear your voice!” This ministry creates events and trips that students want to join!

We are all good at certain things. For some it may be evangelism, others organization, and for some it’s creativity. Where has God gifted you? What’s your natural bent? Know this: God has gifted you not only to edify your church/organization but the Church.

On the flip side, there are many areas where we lack. For me, I’m naturally introverted. I’d rather work behind the scenes, implementing vision with systems and organization. So when I find myself in a situation where I have to gather people, say for an event, I have to seek outside help. The idea of pitching or selling a ministry or event makes me want to crawl in a hole. I must seek collaboration with others or the ministries God has entrusted to me will suffer. God has given me strengths but I also have weaknesses so I need to collaborate with others in order to help in my areas of weakness.

2. Collaborate and Listen

I sit across from the table all the time with guys, and I think, “If I could connect this person with that person, wow…I think something special could happen…in both of their ministries!”

Again, I sat in front of a guy that other day that does an excellent job at gathering students but is looking to add depth to his ministry. Immediately I began to think through connections. Why? Because there are guys I know who are not as strong at gathering but who are great at adding depth. I would love to connect the two because they could both benefit!

It’s for this reason my organization holds an event every year for Texas collegiate leaders. We bring in the best of the best in collegiate ministry leadership, but our main goal is not butts in the seat for a keynote; although it’s good and worthwhile. We want to see guys and gals collaborate, sharing ideas, and praying together. It’s amazing to watch the ministries in this room. You can see the light bulb coming on as they collaborate with each other. Not only is it encouraging seeing ministries in the trenches with you, but it enhances your ministry!

Sometimes college pastors have a hard time seeing this benefit. Normally this happens for a number reasons (1) their overconfident and reluctant to hear an outside voice, (2) they’re insecure about their ministry and they don’t want anyone to see behind the scenes, (3) they’re too busy to collaborate with others, or (4) they don’t trust the voice of the other person, which, to be honest, is sometimes legitimate but is often linked to the first point. Sometimes it’s a little bit of all four. But please don’t fall prey to the idea of being a lone ranger. Collegiate leaders who do this often find themselves on College Minister Island.

What’s your next step?

  1. Figure out what you’re good at
    What are you naturally good at? Is evangelism heavily engrained into your ministry? Are you seeing students come to faith in Christ regularly? Where is the church calling you out and saying “You’re good at this?” Where your passion lies and where the church calls you out is likely your area of strength.
  2. Figure out what you’re bad at
    This takes honesty. Maybe you grew up in a church that was heavily evangelistic, but lacked on developing new believers. Because of this you’ve never been discipled and have nowhere to start. You’re a little insecure about this so you don’t seek outside counsel. Please don’t do this. Recognize it and be honest about your weaknesses.
  3. Collaborate with others
    Ask around and see who in your area is doing things well that you are not. Take them to lunch or coffee. Or, find a local conference for collegiate leaders and begin networking to see what other guys are doing. Another great, quick way to collaborate is the Collegiate Collective Facebook Group. I’m going to keep ringing this bell because it’s serious gold for those in need. Who knows, you might be one or two relationships away from a ministry breakthrough.

about the author

Mitch Tidwell

Mitch serves as the Collegiate Associate at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Mitch’s desire is to assist churches in advancing God’s kingdom on college campuses in Texas. He lives in Fort Worth, TX with his wife, Olivia.