Yesterday, I blogged a bit from Under the Unpredictable Plant. The glory of everyday work was on my mind (it was the topic at church and my young adult small group).
But while I’m hyping that book, I wanted to quote from another section. As with the rest of the book, Peterson explicitly writes to senior pastors… but what he says is clearly applicable for us as campus ministers. (I’ve found the book to be one of the top five most impactful books for me in my understanding of and practice of college ministry.)
Why do pastors [again, read that as “college ministers”] so often treat congregations [or campuses] with the impatience and violence of developers building a shopping mall instead of the patient devotion of a farmer cultivating a field? The shopping mall will be abandoned in disrepair in fifty years; the field will be healthy and productive for another thousand if its mysteries are respected by a skilled farmer.
Pastors are assigned by the church to care for congregations, not exploit them, to gently cultivate parishes that are plantings of the Lord, not brashly develop religious shopping malls.
…[T]he congregation [campus!] is topsoil – seething with energy and organisms that have incredible capacities for assimilating death and participating in resurrection. The only biblical stance is awe. When we see what is before us, really before us, pastors take off their shoes before the shekinah of the congregation.
Every parish is different, even more than each soul is different, for the parish is a compound of souls. What works in that place can not be imposed on this place – this is unique, this place, this people. If I am dismissive of the uniqueness of the parish, or unwilling to acknowledge it, I will impose my routines on it for a few seasons, harvest a few souls, then move on to another parish to try my luck there, and in my belligerent folly I will miss the beauty and holiness and sheer divine life that was all the time there…
Ever wonder why I blabber so much about contextualization in campus ministry?