when plan? (a fridea on thursday)

In my final non-Friday Fridea before tomorrow’s holiday, I suggest a goal that seems surprisingly unattainable for many college ministries. Yet this one action (to me) usually represents collegiate ministries that have chosen to work more purposefully and more relationally. And it’s something you’ll need to decide this summer.

The idea: Instead of planning a year’s worth of purposes and the events and other methods you’ll use to enact them, decide to return to planning at least once – if not more – in the middle the school year.

I realize it seems so “clean” to plan a year at a time. It’s also easier, since many have space in the summer they won’t have later.

But from an intentionality standpoint, that simply doesn’t work. Students, their campus, and our ministries are far too fluid to know what they’ll need nine months from now. Look at your own college experience – didn’t each semester have the potential for radical impact, radical life-change, and new needs?

Part of the reason we’re drawn to college ministry is because of how much can take place in a short span of time. It could probably be argued these are some of the most “formative” years since early childhood for many people. And we would never try to plan (in a very detailed way) a year’s worth of development for our own 2-year-old kids, would we?

There are times when God might lead us to carefully outline the coming school year; I’ve already talked this week about potentially spanning our year with certain methods. And yes, He is perfectly capable of leading us to plans for the next year (or many years!). But His usual method for leading shepherds, I believe, is by revealing the condition of our flocks – as we care for them, know them, love them. (Again, comparing this with how we’d treat our own children is pretty instructive.) And in most cases, it seems our top reasons we desire to plan a year in advance is because it’s “less messy” for us, it “just comes naturally,” and “it’s how we’ve always done it” – the same problematic concerns college ministers try to confront in the Church at large.

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