I ate lunch with a local church-based college minister the other day, and a topic came up that we should be acknowledging time and time again:
Methods and methodologies should be judged together.
This will make more sense if I point to the times we mess this up:
1. We often forget why a method was effective in the first place. Over time, our traditional programs and events can lose their “edge,” as we forget to attend to the small details that helped accomplish our “whys” for those methods. Sure, our greeting of new visitors may still be “generally effective,” but we’ve forgotten the excitement, nametags, prayer, delegation, and/or training that made us so effective three semesters ago.
2. We judge other ministries on their methods, without understanding their methodologies. For instance, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) is sometimes judged by outsiders as simply all about “the show.” But that organization actually has one of the most impressively vigorous focuses on moving students from attenders to deeper participants to “sent.” (Ask your local Cru staffer about “Win-Build-Send” sometime, or how they use weekly events to point to Winter Conference, which in turn points to Summer Project.)
3. We learn others’ methods without asking why. I’m a big fan of collaboration between college ministries; we should be regularly learning from each other. But too often it seems we’re content with only picking up good methods – and by “good,” we often mean “effective for them.” But do we learn why they did Large Group Meeting that way – or only care that 200 people showed up? It’s vital to ask why, not just what, or we’re not discerning as much as we’re copying.