I arrived home last night from the biggest road trip since the yearlong road trip:
43 days, 43 campuses, 20 states, and 6,435 miles. Over 75 significant discussions with college ministers.
Or here’s the recap:
Road Trip 11 started with two opportunities on the calendar and a unique geographical take on the world. And by the time it was over, there was far too much to report (as there always is). Here are some examples of the grace.
I met in Tennessee with a bunch of Baptists from Missouri; I met in Ohio with a bunch of Methodists from Kentucky. I spent time in New Jersey with college ministry professors from Illinois and Kentucky. I hung out in Boston with a mission trip group from Amarillo, Texas, and in New York City with a mission trip group from Miami, Florida.
I had the incredible chance to meet with regional leaders of Campus Crusade, the Navigators, Coalition for Christian Outreach, and Baptist Collegiate Ministry – and with national leaders of Chi Alpha.
Several of this trip’s connections were technology-aided: Tweet-ups, Facebook connections, blog contacts. Twitter proved an outstanding help during the trip – and it was so fun sharing the ins-and-outs of this adventure in a new way.
Surprising skews: met with a large number of church plantin’ types, Coalition for Christian Outreach types, and college ministers with unique ministry models.
Surprising spots: on top of a New York City building, on the campus of a (semi-)boarding high school, at a Boston Memorial Day parade, on two subway systems, at all eight Ivy League schools, amidst two college commencement ceremony crowds, amidst a whole bunch of college admissions people, at a bell concert in Cornell’s bell tower, at two going away parties, at a hip-hop church, and at a hip-hop concert.
I attended 18 church services, including seeing Tim Keller, Alistair Begg, Philip Ryken, and Jon Tyson preach in their home churches … attending church in a classroom at Drexel University, in a hotel in Boston, and in Times Square. Three sermons came via video. Seven services took place in non-permanent buildings or non-primary multi-site venues.
I spoke to the leaders of various Southern Baptist college ministries about some “big ideas” and spoke to high school counselors about the national scene of college ministry. I also got to “speak” through the Center for Parent / Youth Understanding’s blog. All three opportunities were thrilling and humbling.
Reconnecting with (and occasionally staying with) a large number of old buddies – both longtime and those I first met on the Yearlong Trip – was one of the biggest joys of the trip. On the other hand, staying with a few new friends I had never met until this trip was a unique blessing, too.
Speaking of staying: I lay my head in several guest rooms, a dorm room, a few motels, a bunker, a church attic… And not once in the Pathfinder Motel (this time around).
The hospitality was enormous (thank you) and the favor was undeserved (thank you). The countryside was so often breathtaking, and the road-tripping was safety-filled (thank You).
And thank you, friends, for praying, for reading, for contacting, and for connecting me to those I needed to meet. What is left undone, the ministries and people I “missed” this time around, will hopefully be encountered someday (maybe Road Trip #14?).
Road Trip Number 11 was, like every trip, chock-full of amazing surprises as well as some expected excellencies. Hopefully I encouraged and taught and helped; I know I was personally encouraged and taught and helped all throughout these weeks. It was, at times, a little overwhelming; I still don’t have “life balance” down to a science, and wear-and-tear starts to show after six weeks. But it was good, so good.
Besides all these other things, I can now report that I’ve been to campuses in 45 states over the last two years. Our field is wide, and I hope my experiences can offer a sense of what’s really going on among the collegiate missionaries who, as I often say, are my heroes.
In days to come, I’ll report on themes and trends that rose to the top this time around, as well as discussing next steps for me (which look to be pretty interesting). To get the most important updates (and to get them first!), join the Facebook group: Exploring College Ministry with Benson!
Next new post on Friday. Thanks in advance for a one-day break!