Skip to main content

 


Transcript

You’re listening to The Roundup Podcast. A podcast on reaching the college campus, developing leaders and sending out Kingdom multipliers. This podcast is created by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and provided through Cooperative Program giving.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well howdy, friends, and welcome to The Roundup Podcast. I’m your host, Mitch Tidwell. I’m really excited today to have John Strappazon on the show today. He is our very first guest on our brand new segment called Ask Yoda, where we’re getting leaders on who have extensive experience in ministry, particularly college ministry, and wisdom for a lot of us folks that have been in it maybe a couple years, five years, 10 years just asking questions from leaders who’ve kind of been down the road and can give some wisdom to us as we minister to college students. So John, how are you doing?

John Strappazon:

I’m doing good, Mitch. How are you?

Mitch Tidwell:

I’m doing super well, and glad to have you on. If you’re not familiar with John, John has got 40+ years of ministry experience. He’s been both staff and in supervisory positions. He’s ministered to commuter schools, residential campuses, church-based, campus-based, statewide ministries. John, I literally feel like in the world of college ministry, you’ve kind of put yourself in any and every position possible, it sounds like.

John Strappazon:

Well, God’s given me a lot of opportunities.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, He sure has. I remember when we first had our conversation, John, it was probably a couple of years ago. I was just fascinated because you’ve done local church work, you’ve been back to student ministries, you’ve worked at conventions ministering to both of those, and so I’m like, “Man, this guy’s got more wisdom in all these different areas than probably anybody I know with college ministry.” Yeah, so we want to get you on, and John, why don’t you tell us… I know I gave a brief overview about you, but why don’t you give us a little overview of who you are, and where you’re from, and kind of where you got to today, or how you got to where you’re at today?

John Strappazon:

Well, thanks, Mitch. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I became a Christian in college, and so my life was radically changed in college, and I remember one of the things that was confusing to me as a brand new Christian was all these Christians, who’d been in church a good bit of their life, were trying to act like lost people. And I thought, “I don’t get that. There’s nothing over there, boys and girls,” but I became a Christian in college, and God really changed my life. I mean, he completely changed the focus of my life. I wasn’t looking for God, and he just sort of interrupted my life for the better, and went to work at the University of Houston for Baptist Student Ministries as an associate campus evangelism coordinator, and really loved it and made a commitment to ministry and then moved to Fort Worth, went seminary, sold cars for seven years.

John Strappazon:

I love cars. Love to have a classic car, don’t have one, but it’s one of my passions, one of the things, I enjoy looking at those and enjoying those with other friends, and thought I might go into the car business. I had an opportunity. My father-in-law had a car business he was going to sell to me, but God was really clear that his goal for my life was to go into ministry, and I am grateful that he did that ever since then. I have one daughter, Lindsay, and I’ve been married to my wife for 42 years, which is a tremendous thing since my parents got divorced. I wasn’t ever sure that I could be that committed, but God has been gracious and gave me a wonderful person.

John Strappazon:

And so, I’ve done ministry at the University of Oklahoma. So, I studied at UNMH at University of New Mexico and Albuquerque at Texas Tech, and then was over all of the Baptist Collegiate Ministries for Oklahoma, was in charge of all of that, and I’ve spoken at places across the country and in Asia. So, God’s given me a great opportunity to see a lot of things, experience a lot of things. Been a pastor three or four times at churches, and I’ve done on-campus ministry and church-based ministry, so I just had a lot of chances to do a lot of things. I’m really grateful, and excited to be here today.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, we’re excited to have you on, John. John, tell us a little bit. This podcast is mainly geared towards the church base, college leader, could you share a little bit more about your experience in church-base and kind of where you served at?

John Strappazon:

I became a Christian through the church, First Baptist Church in Lubbock, and that’s where I first got to know the Lord and when I first began to walk with the Lord. [Dan Uri 00:04:51], some of you may have heard of him, he was my first college pastor, college minister. Really had a tremendous impact on my life. One of the foremost influences For people in my life, and then several years later, the Lord allowed me to go back there and become the college ministry of the 930, college ministry there at First Baptist that has a college worship service, and so I did that for 14 years under three different pastors.

Mitch Tidwell:

14 years and three different pastors. Wow.

John Strappazon:

Yeah, that was a challenge.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Wow.

John Strappazon:

There’s some challenges in that.

Mitch Tidwell:

I bet so. I’m just thinking, as you said that, I’m like, “Wow. That’s a lot of different transitions, and wow.”

John Strappazon:

Well, and each one of them has a different goal for what they want to see done, and it can become interesting.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, yeah. Sorry to interrupt you, that was just pretty wild.

John Strappazon:

No, that’d be something that you could ask me about if you’d like so.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, actually, depending on how much time we have left, I may come back to that one. I’m really interested in.

John Strappazon:

Well, okay. There were some ups and downs on both sides of the coin, I know.

Mitch Tidwell:

Awesome. Cool. So, First Baptist Church Lubbock, was that primarily where you served a church-base?

John Strappazon:

That’s where I served in church-base, yes.

Mitch Tidwell:

So, tell us a little bit about that ministry. I know that you had had some pretty great success there. Obviously, you said through three different pastors. So, you navigated that pretty well. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that meant for-

John Strappazon:

And I want to say that the pastors empowered me for the most part. Like I said, we had some challenges, but God did some wonderful things through them and through us. Since 1971, First Baptist Lubbock was a innovator in college ministry. Vegan a college worship service, and it reached thousands and thousands of students. I was able to take over in 1990, around 1990, 1991, and begin to rebuild that ministry, and so what do you want to know? I’m not sure what to tell you. I can talk a long time about that. So, what would you like to know?

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, I’d love to know, 1990, what did ministry look like for you guys? Did you all do, was it majority like a midweek worship service, a Sunday school or groups, or how did that kind of look for you guys, or did you all do something separate on campus?

John Strappazon:

In 1971, they started a college worship service. On Sunday mornings that was wedged between the two other main services at 9:30, so that’s why it was called 930. Every now and then you’d get a student who say, “What time does that happen?” But anyway, we’d have about an hour, pretty limited time, but a great time between the other two worship services and the college minister would preach at that. We’d have a college group leading the music, whether it was a choir earlier, and then later praise and worship team. So, some things changed along those lines, and then we had a Sunday school that we called Bible College, and then we changed it to Lifestyle because they wanted to be more what their lifestyle would be like, and we began discipleship groups during the week. We started off with them at different times, and that didn’t work very well.

John Strappazon:

So, we went to all of them on Sunday nights because most students are back on Sunday evenings, and it doesn’t conflict with any other groups on campus, fraternities, sororities, or other things like that. Sunday nights at 8:00, we had a small group discipleship groups, and then during the week, this is at the end, toward the last several years, not the beginning, but the last several years, we had a thing on Thursday nights called Paradigm, which was more of a no commitment, open door for anybody on the campus, any denomination, any church that they went to, and we had it loosely connected with the other ministries, and I was also the chaplain for the Red Raider football team for several years.

Mitch Tidwell:

Nice.

John Strappazon:

It was a great ministry, it gave me a lot of life. It gave life to me, not that the other took it away from me, but it was kind of a new thing. I had prayed that God would give me a fishing hole for evangelism. They gave me the football team, and that gave me an opportunity to run with and be around people that I normally wouldn’t be around. So, it was an exciting time. Everything about it was exciting. It was challenging. It was hard, and it was fun. It was all the above. It’s was a great time. What a great opportunity.

Mitch Tidwell:

John, when we met a couple years ago, one of the things that you told me that stuck out is you said that you guys in that ministry and then probably your other ministries too were… And correct me if I’m wrong. That you really going after the fringe student, is that right?

John Strappazon:

Well, we were trying to, yeah. The church really empowered us financially and gave us the space and everything to reach out to as many different kinds of people as we possibly could, and we tried to do different things to open doors. You try to chase your students where they’re at. You try to open doors where they already are, you try to give them a vision for reaching the band, or reaching the architecture students, or reaching the athletes, or whatever place that they’re on campus, and you try to chase them through those doors, and so then they kind of rotated around. At one point, we had a lot of band members. So, I spent a lot of time with the band hall. Band’s a big deal at Tech and the marching band, and so I spent a lot of time over there and just making new friends, encouraging them and involving band members in the worship experience, different things like that. We try to do everything we could to… If I could just interject something here, Mitch?

Mitch Tidwell:

Absolutely.

John Strappazon:

I feel like there are three big kind of groups of students on your campus. This is stratified, okay? But there’s three groups, there’s the group I call the connected, then there’s the disconnected and the unconnected, and the connected are the students that already have come to know Jesus, and they’re connected with a ministry somehow through a church or organization. Then you’ve got your disconnected students, these are the students who are lost, and then you’ve got your unconnected students. Now, these are the students who’ve come to know Jesus, but they’re not connected with a church or a Christian organization, but they’re just out there, and some of them gave their life to Jesus at a camp or VBS, or something like that, and they really never got plugged in.

John Strappazon:

Jesus was to come again, they go to Heaven, but their life has never really changed that much, and so we got these three groups. We tried to plan some things for all three groups. Your in-between students, disconnected students can be a real key to the lost students because they’re running with them. They’re friends, and if their life gets turned around, it has tremendous impact.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s good. So, you’re programming, you’re setting up your ministry, you’re thinking through those kind of three categories of who is this for, connected, disconnected, or unconnected? That’s great.

John Strappazon:

Yeah, it gives you a way to shoot, a direction ahead. And now this is for these people. Now, you’re not going to be upset if you kept some other people too. And Paradigm, it was really marketed at the disconnected, but we knew that if we got a lot of the disconnected, we’d get some of the unconnected.

Mitch Tidwell:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s great. Well, John, I’ve got a-

John Strappazon:

And lost people aren’t looking for a worship service to go to.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, very true.

John Strappazon:

Disconnected can be because they’re trying to figure some things out. The Holy Spirit’s speaking to them. Go ahead, man.

Mitch Tidwell:

Oh, yeah. No, that’s great. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you there.

John Strappazon:

No, no. Man, this is your deal. You ask me what you want.

Mitch Tidwell:

All right. Well, I’ve got a list of questions here that we put out in our Facebook group, our Roundup Network, and we said, “Hey, we’re bringing John on. Ask questions that you want to know from John,” and so I’m going to kind of run through some of these, and the first one that we have here, and I think that you’re probably wonderful to speak to this because you been involved in local church, you’ve been involved in campus-based ministry, but what are some of the ways that you’ve helped students see their need for being involved and active in a local church and to see their local church necessary for their discipleship and growth?

John Strappazon:

Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think one of the challenges is that a lot of churches don’t really explain what the purpose is. They just kind of have church and expect people to know why they’re doing this, why do we meet at a certain time, and why don’t we do those things, and I think our culture’s gotten to the place where we really need to explain some things. So, make opportunities for your students to get to know the pastor, to hear his story. Very rarely do we hear the pastor’s story. How did he come to faith? What were some of the big turning points in his life? Why does he do what he’s doing? Why did he decide to become a pastor? What are his passions and his goals for the church, and how they fit in, how he sees the students fitting in? That’s where I would start. Relationships just are so important, and if you can help the pastor to become a human, not just somebody up there, but a real life person, and then… Go ahead.

Mitch Tidwell:

No, no. Well, I was going to say that’s the one I never even think about is that one of the ways that helps us students stick to that local church is the pastor is the leader, and sometimes we think that, “Oh, maybe he doesn’t hold influence over the college student.” Actually, them getting to know him and his story is actually a great sticking point for them to see the value of the church. I love that.

John Strappazon:

Yeah. I mean, then they connect with them. When people know people’s stories, they tend to connect.

Mitch Tidwell:

It’s good work.

John Strappazon:

It’s kind of unbelievable that we put people in categories when we don’t know their stories.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, that’s a good word.

John Strappazon:

I mean, we can’t know everybody’s story, but if a person is going to be in charge of that, we need to know some things about… Now, a lot of pastors are reluctant to do this because there are so criticized often by people, that they don’t want to be vulnerable, so you’ll have to encourage your pastor to be vulnerable, and understand why they’re not because there’s no shortage of people criticizing people. That’s the occupational hazard of the ministry, by the way. Criticism, you have to figure out how you’re going to deal with that.

Mitch Tidwell:

John, let’s jump there for just a second to criticism because I think that that is an insecurity for all of us is that we do… For leaders out there of not wanting to do things the right way and not be criticized. What would be your advice on handling criticism in ministry from those around you?

John Strappazon:

Well, I think number one is you need to realize that how you handle this, you’re showing other people how to handle it, for one thing, as you do it. What we have to develop is a pause button, like you’ve got on your DVR. You need a pause button, where you can stop the action for a moment, so that you don’t react in the wrong way too quickly, and that’s one of the things has been the most helpful to me is to take a moment and try to think, “What is this person saying to me?” And one of the ways to do that is to say, “It’s interesting. Why would you say that?” And a lot of times, it’s kind of a weird deal, but people will tell you their real reason, the second question or the second comment. They won’t the first comment.

John Strappazon:

You want to give yourself a chance to get as much information as you can before you react, and just be aware that criticism is not an oddity. Now, it’s not the right thing. It shouldn’t be there, but it is a hazard on the field of play. I mean, athletes go through this. I mean, people are yelling at them in a stances, saying miserable things. They can hear. And a part of this is having a real… Knowing where you’re going will help you, but knowing that you’re taking people there will help you because you need to be kind to people, and nice to them as best you can, but you don’t want to empower those people who are critical, so you don’t put them in leadership positions.

John Strappazon:

It’s a long conversation, but those are some thoughts. I think the pause button is going to be your key thing. Number one, don’t be shocked by it, and when it happens, pray. First pray and ask God to help you see what’s going on here, and then think about who’s around me because you’re a leader, and when you come back at somebody, that’s going to be different than just somebody coming back at somebody. Does that help any?

Mitch Tidwell:

No, that’s really good. That’s good. One of the things you said there at the end, I think sometimes when some people do have a loud voice that may even be critical, sometimes there is that hesitancy, that thought of, “Well, what if we put them in a place of leadership? Give them more voice? Maybe that’ll kind of satisfy that?” And I think what you said there at the end there is, “Hey, that’s probably not the best spot. Probably not.”

John Strappazon:

No, most of the time, that’s not true. You got to decide whether a person has something they’re upset about, or that they are a critical person, and you got to apply James 19-20, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” You want to be quick to hear what they’re saying. Maybe they’ve got a legitimate beef. So, you want to be quick to hear what they’re saying, and that probably means you need to get more definition. Ask, “What are you saying?” And see if you can’t get… Before you respond, get all the information you can. I mean, you can’t be awkwardly standing there for 10 minutes, but quickly, get all the information you can or just say to them, “Hey, why don’t we meet this week? Why don’t you come by the office?” And see if you can answer.

John Strappazon:

You can always answer the question just one-on-one. People are different one-on-one than they are with a group, and you don’t want to hurt the little ones, the new ones in the faith that… Hey, this is just a fight. So, you want to try to answer those things in the simplest way you can, and try not to get in a fight with somebody in front of everybody else. That doesn’t work very well.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. No, it doesn’t.

John Strappazon:

Pretty much that’s always a bad choice. I mean, really, you want to play on your field, if you can. Some people are just there to make you look bad. The enemy does all kinds of stuff. Wisdom tells you to be quick to hear and slow to react.

Mitch Tidwell:

Hey, John. What has been-

John Strappazon:

It’s not easy. I’ve tried to learn for a few years.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. No, it’s definitely not.

John Strappazon:

And here another thing: Don’t take everything so seriously. People just say stuff. I mean, you hear guys on the radio, on sports shows, saying, “Oh, that guy on the Cowboys stinks.” We know that, really, anybody who’s made the Cowboys is not in the stink. I mean, I stink. You might stink, but he doesn’t stink.

Mitch Tidwell:

So true. That’s funny. John, let me ask you this question: Have you observed cycles in kind of culture in college ministry, like how the dynamics of just college ministry has changed, and-

John Strappazon:

Yeah. Well, let me go back to that first question for a second because I want to say one other thing. In the church thing, you want to expose your students to quality laymen, and have them share their story. This will tie them to the church guys. Of course, you don’t want us to ask a guy and say, “Hey, come share your story.” You need to vet that before you do that. I have some bad experiences on that. Some guys have said some things that I wish they hadn’t said. Okay, go ahead.

Mitch Tidwell:

I feel like I’ve seen that just in my short time in college ministry of allowing when those students get… In fact, I met with a campus minister at TCU, and that was one of the things that he would love to see in more of the churches was students not just connecting with peers, but connecting with the different generations in the church, and that just really… He’s like, “Yeah, I just really don’t see that a ton,” and actually, the church that I’m at, we’ve actually seen that that’s been very beneficial, and those are the students that I’ve seen have stock and really committed themselves to the local church. So, I’ve definitely seen that in my time in our ministry.

John Strappazon:

That’s another great byproduct too. People need to be sharing their story. The adults need to be sharing their story. We’re really short on sharing our story. We’re big on telling people what to do. We’re short on helping people see it in other people’s lives. Seeing it lived out. It’s easier to put together a message of telling people what to do than it is to figure out how to tell story. That’s harder. And getting somebody else to tell the story rather than you, if it’s good, it’s always better, because most of them are going to be laypeople, they’re not going to be in the ministry. They need to see how this works in real life, so any way you can do that, that’s better.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s great wisdom.

John Strappazon:

And you can train your laymen to do it. Have them come into your office, have them tell you their testimony, and then help them understand what it is that God’s really taught them.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s great. Well, John, this next question and I think this may be a better way to ask it than what I did it a minute ago, but what are the changes, both positive and negative, that you’ve seen in college ministry over the last 30+ years?

John Strappazon:

Okay. Let’s see, what are the changes? Well, the biblical culture has changed now too, whereas students seem to have more Bible knowledge and more mooring earlier when they came, and less understanding of how it applied in real life, and helping them with that. Now, they come with very little biblical knowledge and less mooring points. There’s lack of agreements on morality. There used to be kind of agreement on that. If you got drunk, that wasn’t a good thing. Now, that doesn’t matter. More broken homes, people need more at reaffirming of their faith now, and this is why one of the reasons we want to help them see how this really works in this time when morals are really up for grabs, and you can teach them and then you need to help back that up with testimonies of your laypeople and other students, older students.

John Strappazon:

They’re more suspicious of authority now. They’re more insecure. They need a deeper sense of caring. Basic life skills are missing, I mean, have a retreat and watch all the guys rush to the line and get all the food. I mean, they’ll get all of it if you let them. I got on a plane coming back in a football game, and some of the football players had already eaten more than one dinner, so what that meant was some people on a 3 hour 45 minute flight back didn’t get anything, and there’s a real need for hope for long-distance relationships and models.

John Strappazon:

I think a positive thing is that people are more open about their faith now, even though we tend to think they’re not sharing their faith as much, I think they’re more open about their faith than they have been, and that there’s more of a emphasis on really living your faith in the day-to-day world that we’re in because I think it’s harder to do. Being a moral guy isn’t just, “Hey, everybody ought to be that.” So, those are some changes that I’ve seen in students. Now, in how we do ministry, is that what you want to ask about too?

Mitch Tidwell:

Oh, yeah. Both of those. That was great on the student, and yeah, I’d love to hear what else you got.

John Strappazon:

I think that not just sort of getting a series you’re going to preach on, I think a better change has been trying to figure out where people are at, and trying to blend what they want and what they need. You don’t want to just give them what they want. A sure bet for me is for a person who doesn’t know what college ministry is about, is if they come up to you, and they say, “College students know what they want, what they need.” No, they don’t. That’s ridiculous. They have no idea. “They’ll tell you.” Now, that’s not been my experience ever. Clue: You’re the one here to tell them and to help them see the need, not just tell it to them. I think in the past, we could just tell it to them. 30 years ago, you just sort of tell it to them, and they were kind of like… And now they need to really know more why. I think they always needed to know the why.

John Strappazon:

By the way, I think the way we do ministry now would have been better then to, and I think people still need to know… They need to know the why, and I think we’ve been real short on that one. Here’s why we have church. Here’s why we preach the Bible. When have you ever heard anybody talk like that? See, why. When you give people the why that creates buy in. If they don’t know the why, it’s harder for them to buy in. Here’s why we’re doing this. That’s a very important that your students know why you’re doing this. Now, one of the things we talk to them about is having parties or the purpose. We weren’t just having a party just to have a party. Now, we’ll have some of those, but this one’s a party with a purpose, and the purpose is to get lost people here, or we’re going to try to do this or that.

John Strappazon:

That was really helpful as I taught my students that we’re going to have a party with a purpose, and all our parties had a purpose. You don’t want to have a party just to not have a purpose to it. The purpose could be just have fun, to get to know people, but you want to be clear on that to have the people know the why because when they know the why, it promotes buy in. How college ministry has changed course, there’s a whole lot of just going kind of with what’s hot, or what the culture says, trying to react to that, or going along with the newest material that’s come out or a new idea that somebody came up with, that new take on something.

John Strappazon:

And while you can use those, those are great, you need to have a plan. You need to have a plan that people can understand and buy into. Not just, “Hey, this week we’re doing this, and next week we’ll do this other,” but you got to call to them something. You’ve got to have a clear simple plan that you’re passionate about. That includes possibilities for them for the Gospel, and that they can see their part they can play in, and what’s it going to do for their life and how it’s going to promote the Gospel, and that’s on you as the leader. You need to come up with a strategy that is simple, but not simplistic. I mean, people can grab ahold of and understand, and is expandable, but you got to be able to tell them why you’re doing what you’re doing, and how to do it. I hope that’s helpful.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, that’s great. Great insight. You brought up something a little bit earlier, and I’ve seen this too, where there’s a little bit of this where you said, “Guys will go to the head of the line to eat and things like that, and I have noticed a little bit of a loss of that, of just the importance, and I think that’s because… I mean, I think even at one time, I can’t remember when it was, but I held the door open for a lady one time, and… I forgot where I was at, but she really wasn’t pleased with it, and it was kind of a shock to me because I’m just from the South, those are just kind of things that you do. Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am.

John Strappazon:

What do you want?

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, so it was kind of a shock like, “Whoa. We’re definitely living in a different age now.”

John Strappazon:

I’d still rather err on that side.

Mitch Tidwell:

Oh, absolutely. I totally 100% agree with that, but yeah, it’s changing.

John Strappazon:

Somewhere, if you can provide opportunity for them to learn some life skills. Being polite, what does that mean in this society, and let them talk and you talk. Somewhere, if you can provide something like that. You don’t always go first. Jesus came to serve and not be served, so we’re going to focus on being servants with the interests of others above yourself. Now, how would we go about that? You can’t just say that and expect them to know how to do it. Oftentimes, we’ll just say stuff, but we got to define it. Now, what this means is, “For you guys, let’s just practice and let the girls go first.” We’re not doing that because they’re weaker than us, we’re not trying to get anything from them, but we’re just trying to serve them. Now, ladies, how could you serve the guys? And different kinds of things, but I think now people need more definition because they don’t have mom and dad pulling their chain.

John Strappazon:

Mom and dad are too busy entertaining themselves, and they’re depressed too, and life is hard. I mean, you got to have two incomes now to make it. That’s hard. I mean, life is hard, and we don’t need to act like it isn’t. Anyway, I don’t want to get off on that.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s really good. I appreciate that, John. We got time for a couple more questions here, and I want to toss this one to you, but John, how did you mix family and ministry? Did those blend, or were they separate? How did you do that?

John Strappazon:

Well, it always our ministry, not daddy’s ministry. And so, you don’t assume that, you say that. You never assume your kids understand that, and you and your wife need to have a shared vision on how ministry and family’s going to work. Don’t assume. When you assume you have problems. That could go just across though. That could be the backdrop on everything. Don’t assume. Always clarify. I talked to my daughter about the ministry. I let her review me on my verses. We created a prayer jar together. We did a lot of those things.

John Strappazon:

I had students in my home and allowed my two children to be exposed to them, and they hung around when we were doing Bible studies and their discipleship type things. Took them to big events, invited them there. They might not be able to stay the whole time. So, Wanda would take her home, but got them there. So, they had buy in. I want you to see all this. You see what’s happening here? Let them get to know the students. You don’t want to be judicious on what ones you need to know, but your wife sharing your vision is really important. You know, Mitch, who you marry is really key.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, it is.

John Strappazon:

Guys and girls don’t think about this. I mean, if a woman doesn’t want to be a minister’s wife, or vice versa, that’s going to make it really tough, or somewhere along the line… And my wife was really good to me about saying, “Look, you’re not spending enough time with us,” and so rather than getting mad at me, she would talk to me about it, and then I would change things because every now and then things just get out of alignment, and can’t help it. It’s not because you’re doing anything bad. Things just get out of alignment, so you need to have that understanding with each other, that whenever I’m getting out of line, I want you to help me. And then you can say, “Well, I don’t think that’s right, but I’ll think about it. I’ll pray about it.” God will talk to you if you let Him.

John Strappazon:

And if you lose your family, you’ve lost everything, and you don’t want your children to grow up hating the ministry, which means they’re going to walk away from Jesus, and so many that times that happens. The ministry is rigorous. It happens at weird hours. You got to figure out, “How do I include them in ministry, and when I’m with them, be with them, and listen to your wife or your husband to help you understand that,” because, dude, when you look at these… I said, “Well, who’s first in your life?” Jesus is first in my life. “Well, who’s second?” You see, Jesus and the ministry aren’t the same thing. You keep those separate because they really are separate. Jesus is first, and then you got to decide where your family or where the mission or the ministry fits in, but I’ve just seen hundreds of kids who are bitter at God because their parent gave them the garbage time, and blame the ministry. What are they going to do? They’re going to blame God. You don’t want that. You want your children to love Jesus, so you take them with you.

John Strappazon:

And by the way, here’s another thing: I’ve seen some guys just wreck their kids because they thought… I knew of a pastor, he was a businessman in Houston, okay? Houston, fourth largest city in the United States. He felt all of a sudden like he’s called to ministry, so he ran off to a town of about 2000 people. His children just freaked. Well, duh! You were called to the ministry, but they weren’t. So, you’ve got to help them understand their calling and how all this works, and do it appropriately to their age, but I think that was just cruel what he did to his kid, and I don’t think God’s in that. And so, I think you figure that out, and obviously you got to ask God exactly what he thinks. I think you need to be real careful when you rip your kids out of school when they’re going to their senior year.

John Strappazon:

I remember asking God if I could stay somewhere until my daughter finished junior high. An interesting thing happened when we were in our third year. We’d left one place that we’d been at a little while. We were in our third year. She said to me, “So, when are we moving?” And she’s 10. I said, “What?” She said, “We move every three years. I just want to know when we’re moving.” She’s 10! Now, wait a minute. I said, “I will let you know in advance, and you will be a part of the decision.” She’s not going to make the decision, but I’m going to listen to her input. So, they need to know what’s going on. Why? I think it could tell your family, “Look, this is a crunch time. Dad’s going to be gone, but he’ll be back,” and then do be back. Anyway, I could talk about that all day, Mitch. I hope that’s helpful.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, that’s great. That’s really good. I think even as me and Lydia, we just had our son William, who actually, as of today, we’re recording this on January the 18th, just turned 11 months old. And just thinking of once he gets in school, just the… I remember we moved once when I was in school, and I was I think in fourth or fifth grade, and it was such a big jolt for me of getting entire new friend groups and different things like that, and how that impacted me. To think about jumping a young person around over and over, that’s just got to be pretty hard on them.

John Strappazon:

Yeah, and try to remember that God doesn’t love the people you’re ministering to more than He loves your kids.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, that’s a good word.

John Strappazon:

And he’s called you to sacrifice. He hadn’t really called them to that yet. They don’t even understand, so you got to help them. Anyway. Again, that’s the topic for a whole conversation. I hope there’s some points there that help.

Mitch Tidwell:

Oh, yeah. That was fantastic. I got one last question for you, John, and it’s this: So what is one thing you wish someone would have told you when you were first starting in college ministry?

John Strappazon:

Oh, good. I wanted to get to this one because this has been life changing. The first one is Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers work in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stand guard in vain.” Not that I didn’t focus on God, but I didn’t focus like I needed to, that unless Jesus builds this thing, no matter what I do, it’s not going to work, and that’s a real deep sense down inside of me that I know that, that I really got to have a God’s guidance and His help, and the focus needs to be on Him. And then number two is the importance of people, key people, that’s from Matthew 9:35-38, and Jesus is looking out over the city, and He says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. He seeks therefore the Lord of the harvest to thrust forth the laborers into His harvest field.”

John Strappazon:

For a long time, I thought what those verses were encouraging me to do was to get busy at making disciples. I need to get better at that and get busy at that because the harvest is plentiful and the workers are few, but one day in the ’90s… I know that sounds like the dark ages to some guys, but it wasn’t for me. And God just stopped me and said, “Why don’t you ask me for them?” See, he told the disciples to ask Him for the leaders, to ask Him for the workers, and not just to send up a little prayer. That you really depend on God to give them to you. You go out then and look for them, but you begin by depending on God and asking Him for the people you need because you don’t want to have all the same kind of people. You need all kinds of people, key people to reach different kinds of people.

John Strappazon:

And when I began to earnestly pray and ask God, “God, give us the people we need to have to build a ministry.” Mitch, different kinds of students came, and sometimes ministries can be made up of all the same kind of person, and God loves them and you love them too, but you need all kinds of people with different gifting. And if we’ll ask God, He will give us. He has done this for me. He changed everything. Everything changed when I began to pray then. You need some students who just bring people. You don’t have to teach them to bring people, they do it naturally. You need students who look at life differently. You needs students who are aggressive, and you need students who are really caring.

John Strappazon:

If you’re going to grow a ministry, you got to have a great mix of different kinds of people with different gifting. And so you look for them, but you ask God for them first. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Tipping Point, he talks about there’s three different kinds of people that a movement needs for it to tip. That’s an interesting thing to look at. Even in the worldly stuff, you need some kind of people who just advertise stuff. They just do it. Nobody has to say, “You need to go tell somebody.” They will just do it. There are other people that people just follow naturally. You need that. So, any questions about that?

Mitch Tidwell:

No, that’s great. I’ve totally seen that, and I think probably the older I get, the more that I realize how just thinking about the body of Christ, and how God has made every one of us uniquely, and how we need people who are going to be pioneering, we need people who are going to be caring, we need people that are going to be… As we were even talking about in the conversation prior to this podcast about people that are going to be in the details and the minutiae, and kind of all of these make up the body of Christ that gives you flourishment. I mean, I can tell you, the way that God has wired me, at one point, I probably would have loved a ministry full of myselves, and now I would say that would be a total disaster of like, “Why can’t people be more like me? Why can’t they think like me? Why can’t they make decisions like me? Life would be easier.” It may be easier, but it would be really boring, and we wouldn’t reach a lot of people. That’s right.

John Strappazon:

And we don’t even know. We kind of think we know what we need, but we don’t really know. Only the Lord knows, and the Lord knows that they need us.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, absolutely. And John, one of the things that I think has proven that to me is I remember… I’ve owned my home for about 12 years now. I’ve been married for a little over three, and so for the past three years, obviously, we’ve had our family with Olivia and then introduced William this year, but I’ve tried to do ministry within my community and have always kind of hit a wall a little bit, and just not really sure like, “Man, Lord, what am I doing that’s ineffective?” It just seemed like the doors weren’t open, and a lot of times I thought, “Man, is there something wrong with me?”

Mitch Tidwell:

And then my wife comes into the picture, and then all of a sudden, all of our neighbors have their door open. They’re inviting us into their house, and I don’t know if they just thought I was a creep or what, but my wife is this very infectious personality that’s very outgoing, and she is just the doorkeeper to people. I mean, people just open up the doors of their life to her, but they don’t do that with me, and that’s okay because I’m good at other things and she’s really good at that, and so that was such a-

John Strappazon:

You don’t want to have a whole team of second basemen.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah, you don’t. You definitely don’t want that. That’s pretty funny, and such a great lesson.

John Strappazon:

In fact, the quarterback does need some linemen, but if you don’t have a quarterback, you’re in big trouble. You’ve got to have some outgoing people. Now, sometimes they’re messy. It can be a little flaky, some of them, but if you don’t have them, you’re not going anywhere. You disciple them, and you work with them, and then the people who are more shy and more deeply caring, you work with them, and you help them become a little more outgoing. That’s never going to be their strength.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s a good word. Well, John, we’re out of time here, but it felt like we’re just even touching on just the tip of the iceberg here on the some of the conversations, but we’ll have to have you on again. It’s been a lot of fun having you on. Great wisdom, and by the way, if anyone wants to kind of get connected to you, what’s the best way to do that? Facebook or Twitter, email? Do you have a website?

John Strappazon:

Facebook will work. Just John Strappazon. If you can spell my name, you can find me. Another way is my email at johnstrappazon@gmail.com. And this is what I do: I help people. I have a ministers group that meets once a month, and it’s what I call Flightline. Isaiah, “Rise up with wings as eagles,” so it’s for young ministers, and so I would love to have anybody in that group if they just let me know. So, that’s where I pour my life and experience into guys, and we talk together about things, we work together on stuff, and we meet once a month for an hour and a half. So, I would love to have anybody in that. We have a good time. We hit on stuff. We help each other too. Coaching, I’m available for group coaching and individual coaching. I think I can help you stay out of some ditches and miss some walls.

John Strappazon:

Let me tell you something, you can get fired being successful, and that was the thing that I never anticipated. I mean, I didn’t get fired because I was successful, but you can get yourself in hot water being successful, which is really kind of strange, but it’s true.

Mitch Tidwell:

That is. I have seen that.

John Strappazon:

Anyway, I’ll not go there, but you don’t want to not be successful and save your job. Anyway.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, thanks, John.

John Strappazon:

Thanks, man.

Mitch Tidwell:

You got it. Thank you for being on. Thanks for your time. And you all, if you want to reach John, again, as he said, johnstrappazon@gmail.com. You can go to his website, Strappazon, S-T-R-A-P-P-A-Z-O-N.com. There John speaks, coaches, as it said, consults. He’s got resources. So, check him out. Friend request him. He’s a very encouraging follow on Facebook.

John Strappazon:

I have a couple of books that are for sale on Amazon.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah! What is it? You got Gear for the Game and then Life’s Equipment Bag?

John Strappazon:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Mitch Tidwell:

Awesome. Yeah, chick them out. John’s got some of those and he’s tons of wisdom to look at. John, takes kind of a unique angle and kind of puts a lot of these ministry principles and wisdom into coaching metaphors. Would that be correct? Did I say that right?

John Strappazon:

Yeah, I think that’s right. I have a passion to make things very applicable and understandable, and fun too.

Mitch Tidwell:

Yeah. You do that well. John, thanks again for being on, brother.

John Strappazon:

Thanks, man. I’m looking forward to being Yoda again someday.

Mitch Tidwell:

That’s right. We’ll bring you on. See you, John.

John Strappazon:

Thanks, Mitch. I appreciate you.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, see you.

Mitch Tidwell:

Well, friends, thanks for joining us on The Roundup Podcast. Be sure to like and subscribe to our podcast. Leave a review. We’d love to hear from you. Also, don’t forget about our Facebook Group, Roundup Network on Facebook. We have over 260 leaders in there that you can idea share with, you can learn from. It’s a great group, and don’t forget that we’re going to have Texas Round Up. That’s an event, a large event that we’re doing for collegiate leaders that we’re planning for May 12th to the 14th in Austin, Texas. You can register at sbtexas.com/texasroundup. Would love to have you there for that. Well, friends, thank you for being on and we will see you next time.