Yesterday I had the chance to sit with a bunch of residents at our church to hear our Service & Outreach Director share about the development of his ministry. It’s something he’s shared before – in groups like this, one-on-one, at conferences. He’s able to walk through all sorts of things – from the development of our activities, to the philosophy behind it all, to the “aha moments” where new realizations came.
Here’s the question for today: Are you really an expert on your own campus ministry?
It might seem easy, if you’ve been there more than a few years, to answer a quick Yes. Or it’s likewise easy to think “expertise” equals “full understanding” and offer a humble No. But in both cases, the question I’m asking is meant to be more subtle. So let me ask it another way:
Have you spent SO much time thinking, praying about, and discussing your ministry that you can express strong familiarity not only with the what (activities), but also with the how and the why? Among other college ministers and other Christian ministers, can you chat about your ministry in ways that differentiate it from other philosophies of college ministry and other methodologies that might exist? Can you catalog the “aha moments,” turning points, and specific strategy choices you’ve made along the way?
If there was a conference about “Campus Ministry at Your Particular Campus,” would you be qualified as a 2-hour seminar speaker on your particular model of ministry?
It’s funny to realize that plenty of college ministers would struggle to discuss their ministry among their peers for two full hours, or create a PowerPoint presentation that outlines its development. But our field needs lots of workers who become true “experts” in what they’re doing. We aren’t unlike church planters or missionaries, reaching “tribes” that have their own unique contexts and situations. And we’re also reaching a new generation that hasn’t existed for all that long. Our work should be filled with strategy development and time spent deep in prayer, with counsel-seeking and book-reading and conference-going and methodology-refining.
Our organizational or denominational leaders (if we have those) can’t do all this work for us. They may give us a backbone for our work, but they can’t put contextual flesh on those bones. We’ve got to be the experts.