the kinship of college ministers

(I think I’m going to keep writing short notes about the present road trip at the bottom of posts, so look for those in blue even if you skip the post!)

Two nights ago I had the marvelous opportunity to spend significant time with a college minister and his family. The Killerlains took me for some great Memphis barbecue (ribs and banana pudding, no less!), and they actually let me use their guest room for the night. In all, we spent a good few hours at dinner and at home talking about college ministry. The next morning, they even gave me some Honey Bunches of Oats – and we talked more college ministry! So fun!

And the real kicker is, I’d never met these people before in person. Ben K., the college pastor at a Bible church in Memphis, had connected with me over Facebook awhile back. So I made a point during this trip to meet him, his wife, and his son.

Here’s what I hope for us who are involved in college ministry (like Ben and I and maybe you are): I hope that we can develop a better and better kinship with others in our field.

A kinship is there in some circles, where college ministers get genuinely excited to see each other, to fight alongside each other, to learn from each other, to encourage each other.

But too often the semi-competition on the ground and the lack of support from our overseers and the lack of “college minister identity” in this underdeveloped field cause us to battle every-man-for-himself-style.

Seeing things as a battle is not the problem. We will be helped to see this more and more as a battle, not less. As we realize that we are all fighting tooth-and-nail for students to see Jesus and His life more clearly, I think we’ll naturally turn from “every man for himself” to “we’re all in this together.”

There can be / should be / sometimes already is a kinship among college ministers. Let us appreciate that we are a valiant, crazy few: called to one of the weirdest, most specific, most contextual, least understood, most ignored, most impactful, least stable, most dramatic, most ridiculous ministries in God’s Kingdom. Each of us enjoy this same awkward, wonderful reality – the church-based college minister down the street at First Not-Your-Denomination, the new parachurch girl in that other ministry, the longtime chaplain at the local Christian college, all the college ministers serving the state school three hours away, and you.

We’re not all the same, of course. But we knew that already.

But we are the same kind. And if we believe it, then “kindred” and kinship can’t be far behind.

Written from Goodlettsville, TN (Nashville area)
Tuesday’s T-shirt: the Poet tribe (really) of Whittier College

Tomorrow, more College Metro and Collegiate Summit
–     I’ll be updating occasionally at Twitter


  1. Aaron and Charity

    Ben, dude. You definitely hit something real in this one. Co-laborers is what I constantly long for. I look for it in our own leaders, and that’s how I sell it to them: co-laborers for the gospel, not just workers.

    I think a hard part of this problem can also be time. I fill my time up so fast with so many things that it can often be easier for my job not to make time for co-laborers. It’s great for my spirit, but when time is stretched this is one of the things that is easy to cut. Sad how I shoot myself in the foot that way. I wonder how many others are in the same situation.

    Good post.

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