time for anthropology, not hail marys

I recently had the wonderful chance to sit down with a college ministry that’s considering “reinventing itself” for the next school year. I’m quite familiar with this ministry, so it was fun to look together at its past and potential future.

The ministry itself has fallen on hard times – or maybe more exactly, it’s sensing the need for some major adjustments. So I had the chance to offer what I could in this important juncture! So fun!

And one of the items (within the two hours we talked) is reflected in today’s title: It’s a time for anthropology, I told them, not the time for Hail Marys.

Very often, struggling college ministries (or their overseers) decide the way to “fix” things is to throw a Hail Mary pass. They hire a famous band, recruit a speaker sure to draw students, plan a giant event, start a brand-new service, pour a bunch of money into something, etc..

And of course, in context any of these could be a good idea.

But often – and especially if we don’t know exactly what’s needed – we need to do a little anthropology first.

Get to know the campus (again). Talk to lots of other college ministers. Talk to administration and other staff. Talk to your student leaders, past ministry attenders, new guests, those who have never come. Pray like a missionary. Study what you’re learning. Meditate on the facts and the anecdotes. Sense what God is showing you about the future of this ministry.

In other words, be a (Christian) anthropologist in your campus tribe. A big move is fine… if anthropology leads you to it.

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