Yesterday, I discussed one of the practical ramifications of our highly contextual work: falling in love with our particular context(s) just like a foreign missionary would fall in love with his.
And as I told the group of college ministers I spoke to last week, loving our contexts starts with knowing them well (which is generally how we come to love anything or anyone, right?).
- Know your school’s history. You should have as clear a grasp on the history of your campus tribe as the school’s president does… and in the area of your school’s spiritual life, you should be the best repository of info around. This may seem like a secondary concern – and in some sense, it is. But it also shows the condition of your heart toward your campus – is it a place you’re choosing to invest in and serve as well as possible, or just a place you’re ministering to for now?
- Make friends. From the highest up in the administration you can reach to the janitor who’s been cleaning the freshman dorm for twenty years, make friends. Get to know the people who make up your school, and get to know more than names and titles.
- “Put down roots.” Some of your knowledge should be factual, through purposeful learning. But other knowledge should be more experiential, as you genuinely place your life within your campus tribe context. Read the newspaper. Live close if you can. Spend an awful lot of time on campus, and not just doing programs. As much as you can, connect your life and the life of your family to the campus community.
- Go to classes… and everything else you can. Every once in awhile, you should sit in on a class. Or even audit one for an entire semester. And go to the big, campus-wide stuff – even if you don’t have a direct “college ministry connection” to that event.
If you want to love your school (and you should), you’ve got to get to know your school. These four ways don’t completely cover it, but they’re definitely good places to start.