the beautiful tapestry

As I continue to encourage us to CELEBRATE the work of College Ministry this week, I want to highlight something that we don’t often think about – especially since our noses are so often buried deeply within our local mission (as they should be).

But think about this: Who else – in all of Christendom – gets to work within such a varied field? Besides what is normally thought of as Missions, American college ministers probably serve in more wildly diverse contexts than anybody! (And that’s one of the reasons I continue to compare us to the other forms of Missions.)

If there are “categories” of our mission fields, they would have to be determined by not just region but also by size, specializations, admission requirements, history, governance, and more. (All this is why it’s such a fallacy for anybody to assume that narrow experiences among one or two campus tribes can be extrapolated blindly.)

But there’s more. Our field isn’t just diverse, it’s beautifully diverse. Today is one of the days that highlights that, as 32 schools from across the country are represented on the first main day of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

When the Belmont Bruins play the Wisconsin Badgers, you’re watching a small Christian college (with a unique tilt towards training in the Arts) play an enormous state school that, like many other capital city colleges, tilts toward the liberal end of the political spectrum. An Ivy League school older than our country faces a state school in a very different part of the country. BYU competes today, and so does Utah State; those schools likely have some big comparisons (because of the state they share) and some big contrasts (as a religious Mormon school and a public school, respectively).

And on and on we can go, noticing the wide-ranging contexts of Gauchos and Owls and Bearcats and Nittany Lions. Really – it’s not just the mascots that differ. I’ve been to those four campus tribes (and a total of 46 in this year’s tournament). And while I’ve gotten to know some mission fields better than other, I can certainly say… They’re different. And it’s glorious.

a picture (and 300 pictures) of campus diversity

This week, I finally finished putting together a project I had spent most of last year working on: My Campus Tribe of the Day photo albums. Using the T-shirts I’ve collected from 300+ campus tribes, I wore a different one each day (usually with a reason for the choice), and I saved ’em all in two Facebook albums. When all was said and done, I had quite the mosaic.

If you wanna see that representation of our amazing diversity, take a quick look at the albums here and here.

This month’s big basketball tournament involves only a small fraction of the schools out there. There are thousands in our country alone, each with a different story and a different makeup and different needs.

Who are we, that God has seen fit to drop us in the middle of such an amazing field of ministry… a field made up of many fields, of many beautifully diverse fields?

Click on the pic if you wanna see the “tapestry” a lot bigger.


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