As I've come back to MBBC, a lot of things have changed. Not going to lie- a lot of it has been good. I think that the new MBBC dorm societies is part of that good change taking place. However, I thought that, given a lot of the talk around campus ranges in everything from "I think a dorm society is the best idea, ever!" to "This is just the dumbest thing I've seen done at MBBC, yet", it would be fair to show both sides of the equation in my evaluation of it. So, consider this your non-Fox news "Fair and Balanced" approach to Dorm Societies. :-) I will start with the negatives, so as not to end this on a negative note.
Cons of Dorm Societies-
1)Limited number of societies- Since the ministries are related to each of the dorms, this therefore essentially only allows for the number of ministries that MBBC is involved in to be limited to the number of dorms (currently that makes for 10 ministries if each dorm gets its own ministry). Under the old system, we could essentially have an infinite number of societies. I understand that for some, this meant that few were doing much of the work, as all students were required to be a member of a society, but not all were required to join. Admittedly, under the new system, some of this should be dispelled as the dorm atmosphere will create a positive peer pressure to get involved (I will deal with that later under the pros). However, in the meantime, societies like KIKS, Bible Printing, Sports Ministry, Hospitality Society, and many other societies have suddenly been lost.
2)Society leadership- Under the old system, the Office of Student Ministries (OSM) would talk with current society officers and- via a system of checks with the Deans and Academic Advisors- hand pick society officers who- if willing- would serve for a full year. Under the new system, leadership is chosen every semester. This could result in "helter skelter" organization, if not careful. Also, now the leadership has a much greater possibility of being based on popularity, rather than on actual leadership qualities. This could potentially cause our dorm society ministries to be a bad testimony, if we as students are not careful in who we vote to lead our dorm societies.
3)Organization- Depending on how things work out (as seen in my pros section under organziation), this could potentially be disastrous. For example, this Friday the students are being asked to participate in Dorm Soccer, Dorm Golf, and Capture the Flag. The golf and soccer outings are actually scheduled on top of each other. The dorm outings were organized by the dorm societies, while the Capture the Flag was planned by the Student Body Cabinet. Hence, the lack of communication which resulted in the double stacking of events on the same night. Understandably, this is the first year, so hopefully as communication lines and organizational methods are established, these kinds of things won't happen in the future. However, with societal leadership possibly changing every semester (the guys can vote for the same people if they want, but they don't have to), communication lines may not ever be able to be firmly established in order to curb such happenings.
Pros of Dorm Societies-
1) Ministry involvement- since each ministry belongs to a particular dorm, there is a lot more positive pressure to be involved in the societal ministry. Also, where before the money for societies came from Casual Days (which, I do miss) along with some budgeting within the school budget, now the money for the societies comes from money given by the students. This means that if your dorm has a ministry society that you can't be involved in the ministry due to work conflicts, you can still participate in that ministry by giving towards it. Which leads me to my next point.
2) Funding- The money given by each of the dorms stays within the dorm society fund and goes directly towards each minstry. The old system had it set up this way: As mentioned above, the funding came from Casual Days. This meant that, approximately $400 was raised each time a Casual Day was offered (which was typically about every other week). However, not all the Casual Days counted towards the OSM. Some of these helped fund Softball and Baseball, as well as other groups. The money being earned was pooled into all of the societies. Some of the societies (like State Street, in Madison for example) use a lot more money than other societies (like Golden Living Center Nursing Home in Watertown). So, the money wasn't necessarily evenly distributed. However, with the new system, the students are in control of how much money their ministry has to use. This is an excellent opportunity for students to not only participate in the ministry via their giving, but to see in a real world setting how most church ministries financially operate (though this isn't done through the local church, it gives the experience that can easily transfer over to other future ministry experiences). It will also force us students to take some steps of faith as we will need to give money that- for all intents and purposes- we don't have in order for our societies to actually function.
3)Organization- This first year is going to be a stretch in that area, in the way that any ministry often is somewhat disorganized when first begun. Once the tweaking begins, I hope we will see a much more organized fashion of things taking place. Communication will be the key to this. As those in charge communicate with the elected dorm society officers, things should shape into place.
4)Communication/Meetings- Under the old system, a Society Chapel was held once a month for us to plan and talk about what the Lord was doing through our society. Unfortunately, since all students were required to join a society, but weren't required to go to a society function, this meant that many societies had people who would sit in on these society chapels who were never actually involved in the society ministry. However, as stated in the involvement section, the dorm aspect creates a more positive pressure (rather than a guilt trip) to be involved. Also, under the new system, dorm societies meet almost every Wednesday during the chapel time. This allows us to get together as a dorm to talk ministry, be preached to by our peers, and to talk about how we can be a better spiritual impact on one another.
5)Student body unity- once the organization and communication are in place, this new system will allow for a much more unified student body that is involved in each of their dorm society ministries for the purpose of glorifying God. As each student gets involved, as each student gives, and as we all try to disciple and be a positive impact on one another spiritually, I think we will see a big change at MBBC.
Overall, I believe, as long as communication and organization is taken care of, this new method of going about our societies has a greater potential than anything we've done before to see our student body unified in serving our Lord and Savior. However, we must be careful in who we vote for in our leadership. We must also make sure to keep communication lines open. Most importantly, regardless of the changes made, we must be open and willing to let God work in our lives and use these opportunities to not only see people changed for Christ, but let Christ change us.