the others

The last couple of days have comprised one of those special times on my road trips when I enjoy a wide range of college ministry learnin’. Wednesday, I toured Liberty University with a member of the accounting staff (whom I knew from Texas) and explored other parts of the campus with a longtime Campus Pastor, asking and learning much about spiritual life at Liberty.

After that, I met with a church-planter (another friend from Texas, actually) at the University of Virginia. He was a college minister back in TX, and now his church is purposefully student-friendly and campus-reaching.

Yesterday, God happily smooshed three great ministry discussions into one afternoon at the University of Delaware. I got to discuss ministry among the Blue Hen tribe with a Baptist campus minister, a truly veteran InterVarsity guy, and a new guy commissioned by a local Church of Christ to impact the campus.

So if you’re keeping score at home, I got to see Christian college, church-based, and campus-based college ministry. That’s all three branches of college ministry, and from various parts of the Evangelical spectrum.

But this has been the norm for me the last two years: connecting with multiple groups, connecting with multiple branches of college ministry, connecting on multiple campuses, and loving (nearly) every minute of it.

So following that testimony of getting to know my fellow college ministers far and wide, I want to make a challenge that’s a whole lot easier to follow than mimicking my explorations. That challenge? Get to know “the Others” in college ministry alongside you.

In the interview that Center for Parent / Youth Understanding posted yesterday, I told the story of a college minister who accidentally planned to duplicate an important ministry outreach another group was already working on. That’s one of many reasons it’s worth getting to know your fellow laborers – so we don’t duplicate ministry unnecessarily. Other reasons include mutual encouragement, an end to discord, idea-sharing, and splitting taxicab fare when needed.

Just to name a few.

If you’re a local college minister, this means getting to know other local college ministers. If you’re a parachurch or denominational leader, it means getting to know other national leaders. If you’re a student leader, it means getting to know other student leaders. Across denominations, across the “branches,” even just across the campus. In some cases, it might mean simply across the street!

Honestly, I think it’s crazy how often I’ve been able to inform a college minister about the activities, structure, and history of another ministry in town. (I don’t tell “secrets” – I’m talking about the basic, public, obvious stuff.) There’s no way an outsider should know more about the entire “college ministry scene” at a campus, after only a few days of asking questions, than the guys and gals who serve there perpetually.

I want to challenge you as summer approaches: Hike to the other side of the island, put out your hand, and meet some Others.

P.S. I don’t watch “Lost,” and it’s possible the metaphor is a bad one, like if the Others were smoke monsters or something. But I think you understand what I’m saying. Don’t be scared; the other college ministers are probably not smoke monsters.

Written from Langhorne, PA, my home for the next week.

Road Trip #11 update:
yesterday’s T-shirt: the Thunder tribe of Wheaton College
campus visits: the University of Delaware (#8)
new states: Maryland (#5), Delaware (#6), Pennsylvania
click here to learn more about Road Trip #11)

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