I was curious to see if this road trip would have a “theme,” some way I could distinguish it from the other college ministry explorations I’ve enjoyedt. My hope for distinction was heightened because this was the third of those trips that involved driving to Southern California and back. “California 2009” just didn’t sound that interesting.
But I think I’ve found a theme: Contexts Conglomeration!
That may sound a little complicated, but it fits! A clear theme running throughout my interviews, campus visits, and other explorations has been ministry contextualization, and I’ve gotten to see a cool mishmash of contexts during my two weeks. Here are some notes, and I’ll finish up (and post a reflection or two) tomorrow.
Albu-quirky. My 2 big interviews in Albuquerque focused highly on the unique context of the University of New Mexico. That school may share a line of latitude with the Bible Belt, but even a quick drive down Central Ave. proves you’re not even close. Scott Free of the Christian Student Center and Keith Linthicum of First Baptist Church take quite different approaches… but each centers his work in the Albu-quirky context of the Lobo tribe.
Malibunique. Next up, my time in L.A. was mostly focused on the Malibu area, where I got to examine some of the ministry context at and around Pepperdine University and Santa Monica College. The Los Angeles Metro area is SO big. So seeing one particular area – taking one “bite” this time around – was a cool way to examine L.A. college ministry. (On the way out of town, my interview with Buddy Molway of Mariners Church likewise keyed in on the unique context of UC Irvine, where the Anteaters tribe apparently has a funny way of mystifying its missionaries…)
Oh – and while it may not be particularly collegiate, my Palm Sunday church visits were contextual, too. I enjoyed the 10-year building anniversary celebration at Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, CA. Even for an outsider, it was quite obvious this was an encouraging milestone for the church, which has survived some tough times. The founding pastor preached, the recently-installed pastor spoke a bit, too, and it was clearly a good day.
Later that morning, I also worshiped within the elementary school space presently used by Malibu Pres, whose old church building burned down not long before I came through last time around. So that, too, seems to be a story of a church bonded through recent tragedy, and I’m honored to get to watch that process.
Notes from the West Texas days… and why this context business is on my mind… tomorrow.
Written from Lubbock, Texas