“Really great …but tough.”
That’s the basic synopsis I offer as people ask me how the recent trek was. And it’s true! The trip really was phenomenal, with an amazing number of powerful connections packed into only 16 days. But the trip really was tougher than most I’ve taken.
So if you’re interested in some of the highlights of this tough-but-great / great-but-tough trip, read on!
the deposit of wisdom in the ascent network
The original occasion for Road Trip 14 was the chance to attend the biannual Ascent Conference. I am so glad I got to attend, especially since my next chance will be 2012!
My visit to the conference continued to affirm the high opinion I have for the Ascent Network college ministries. A high level of college ministry competency simply seems to run within the “veins” of this relational network – all the more notable because most of their ministers serve in the toughest branch of college ministry, church-based college ministry.
Does that mean that all of ’em succeed? Certainly not. But there is no getting around the fact that these college ministries have apparently seen a high ratio of success, have impacted an enormous number of students, and have experienced strong longevity of vision (and often leadership) in their ministries.
The Ascent Network is certainly “required learning” if you’re seeking to understand the field of College Ministry as a whole. (You can find my more complete description of the Ascent Network here.)
when the learners appear
If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, you know that I’ve had countless amazing experiences on these trips. God is the great Adventure-giver, that’s for sure.
But now I have one more experience to add to the “most-encouraging” file: my time with the Great Plains International regional team of Campus Crusade. Organized by college ministry advocate and Crusade veteran Don Wilcox, a dozen of us ended up in a room together one morning. Long story short, they peppered me with questions for 2 1/2 hours – not to mention at lunch after that. (And I got to ask them plenty of questions in there, too!)
Here’s why these Q&A times excite me so much:
- They prove – without a doubt – that I’m in the presence of fellow campus ministry learners.
- They allow me truly to “scratch where people itch”; in situations that don’t involve direct Q&A, it’s harder to tell whether I’m providing the info people want.
- Sadly, these experiences are pretty rare.
Numbers 1 and 3 are connected, of course. Based on what I’ve seen, college ministers who vigorously seek to learn more about the ins-and-outs of the field of College Ministry are relatively rare. And sadly enough, I’m not sure that the percentage grows as one observes the ranks of regional, national, denominational, or other larger-stage leaders.
But there are exceptions. And Cru’s regional team proved that once again. What a morning.
thinking about the under-thought-of
Beginning with the trip’s very first campus – Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas – I spent a good percentage of my time thinking about ministry to schools that aren’t on the tip of most of our tongues. And yet these amazing tribes draw millions of students each year, provide some real advantages for reaching students, and often present deep challenges to that impact, too.
I already blogged about this vital topic for our field during the trip: check it out!
health & hospitality
The main reason this trip was so tough involved 8 or 10 little physical issues that impacted my time in one way or another. It didn’t help that I wasn’t 100% when I started the trip, either. The biggest problem of all this was a persistent requirement that I sleep as much as possible (and yet rarely sleeping through the night). This made it tricky to work out logistics, blog, and otherwise perform all the essential functions that often need to take place in the evenings.
But my constant refrain – and a blessing indeed – was “When I’m weak, You’re strong.” And He was.
Meanwhile, one of the coolest blessings of this trip was the incessant hospitality provided by God’s people. 6 out of the 15 nights of the trip were provided free (thanks, Lees and Shaloskys!). Mark Warrington, my traveling buddy for the first five days (another great distinctive of this trip) graciously paid for gas. And several others provided meals, coffees, garb from their campus tribes, and other outstanding instances of hospitality.
The enormous love of God’s people, expressed in masses of hospitalities, has been of the most profound parts of the last three years.
5 states, 23 campuses, 2675 miles, and 30+ individual college ministry discussions. You can see ALL the explorations at the Road Trip 14 page.
the crazy and the rest
And don’t forget, I did experience firsthand one of the crazy reasons we need college ministry to be stronger and stronger. Plus, you can see pictures from other key experiences right here. Or, see all the blogs that touch on Road Trip 14 here.