I noted yesterday three “campus-visiting milestones” I’ve had on this trip. And the truth is, I’ve probably visited something like 240 campuses in the past two years, and a good many more than that in the past six years.
But why does it matter? What good is it for me – and you – to visit college campuses and connect with ministers on those mission fields?
- We see the broad differences between contexts. If anyone believes they have “the model” for college ministry, they should spend more time on more campuses. Soon enough, we realize that these individual tribes have striking differences – whether they’re across the country from each other, across the state, or across the street. Then this exposure should bring us to our knees to beg for God’s specific brilliance for any particular tribe.
- We have the opportunity to support our fellow collegiate missionaries. By simply viewing the mission field that another brother or sister serves, I’m respecting and promoting the work they do. Further, as I talk with ministers and ask about their work, I let them know that their field is not forgotten. Stanford University matters. Richland College matters. Emporia State matters. So as the opportunity arises, we walk upon the field that others weep over, and by so doing we honor their work and their world.
- We better understand the actual needs. Until you and I have been “on location,” we have a much harder time knowing what is truly needed. Many collegiate ministry “experts” struggle because of this very point – their experience isn’t broad enough. (This problem has actually come up in several conversations on this trip, so it’s on my mind and is something I’m desperately trying to avoid.)
- Our hearts are stirred. For whatever reason, God has rigged many (or most? or all?) of us to respond to immersion. Being among the campus tribes – even many of them – does something to our hearts. Climb to the top of the bell tower and see the campus before you. Stand among the disoriented pre-freshmen at New Student Orientation. Watch the drama of a Friday night on Fraternity Row. Campus visits call us to this task more deeply than before, even as we return to our own contexts and our own students.
- Our hearts are awed. In the same way, we are hopefully reminded of the awesomeness and beauty of our task. Sometimes it takes a trip to another campus to remember just how wonderful it is to work at such amazing places.
- We get to practice. Finally, visiting campuses gives us the chance to “practice” for our own. As you observe a new campus and (if you have opportunity) connect with ministers, you’re sharpening your skills of observation and exegesis for your own campus. Further, there is no better way I know of to catalyze your own brainstorming than to learn what’s happening elsewhere. By “discovering” a new campus, you’re aiding your ability to discover your own.
Written from the Lutz house in Boalsburg, PA (near Penn State)
Road Trip #11 update (Day 32)
yesterday’s T-shirt: the Hornet tribe of Emporia State
campus visits: none, actually, which hasn’t happened in several days
plan: I’ll be in and around State College, PA, for a couple of days, then on to Ohio!
(click here to see all the explorations from Road Trip #11)