Rebuilding a Field, Reclaiming a Movement

The Election of Donald J. Trump to the highest seat in the United States has caused me a lot of consternation. I live in a country where we’ve been struggling with equality for women’s pay, prolonged battles over whether everyone should have access to health care, massive issues around how and if to fund public education, a decades long fight for GLBTQIA equality, and race issues that fifty plus years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are perhaps as some of their worst in decades.  I should have figured.

cmm_button_tagline_4c            One conversation with a colleague specifically about Trump and about the situations on campus spurred a reality that I myself will now make public: I believe campus ministry, and the Church at large, has a chance (albeit this is not the approach we should hope for) to use this election as a catalyst for revitalization.  Read more…

Why Campus Ministry Matters

When Harvard opened its doors in 1636, it did so intentionally as a way to train clergy.  Its humble beginnings in Cambridge, Massachusetts was simply a response to the general public’s need to have more trained Christian pastors.  When William and Mary, Princeton, Yale, and others opened their doors the story was similar.  And while the world of higher education has dramatically changed in the past 400 years, its relationship and connection to religious identity has never been more important. Read more…

A Place to Call Home and Other Realities of Future Faith Communities

As a United Methodist Clergy, I struggled greatly with what I want my community to be about.  On the one hand, there are colleagues and friends of mine who think that the Church is about helping people find a way to God and to a better relationship with Jesus.  That’s all well and good, but it just doesn’t seem to appeal to me to try to get them to come to this relationship in the way so many people see the Church’s role.

There’s the other end of the spectrum, one in which the Church is simply the ground for social justice organizing and the fostering of movements.  This is more appealing, but it lacks something and is hard to differentiate from all the social justice organizations that are happening.  Additionally, most faith communities are doing this tremendously poorly, likely because they are trying to accomplish between 3-14 different kinds of social justice and service related things all at once.  It so often feels like little is being accomplished, aside from general education. Read more…

The Safe Places in the World

Every year, I work with plenty of students who are studying abroad for a semester or even a year as part of their college experience.  And many times, I hear that parents are worried or concerned about where their children are headed off to.  Are you sure it’s ok to go to Turkey?  Do you have to go to Israel right now?  And the list goes on and on.  Yesterday, I saw a tweet from someone who I do not know, but who asked whether the United States is really the place people shouldn’t be traveling to rather than us being fearful of traveling abroad.

Their point is clear. As a person who works in higher education, who has traveled to over 100 schools, have met thousands of students, and knows full well the way higher education is valuing international students as a way to diversify campus, I have to ask: are we as a country actually ready to to realize that it may be that we are the unsafe place for students to come.  Just imagine it for a moment.  In the aftermath of the situation in Orlando, as targeted as it seems to be toward the GLBTQIA community, we still have to understand that hundreds of thousands of international students this fall will come to the United States for the first time to attend institutions of higher education.  But should they?  Will they?  How many families of international students today will reconsider sending their children to U.S. Universities because we are still having mass shootings almost everywhere in the United States. Read more…

Reclaiming a Vision Long Lost

This past week, I came across my dear colleague Mark Schaefer’s words regarding campus ministry from four years ago.  I would be misguided if I did not credit him with some of the inspiration for this post.  His words in his self titled blog post Missions Need A Missionary: Why Full Time Campus Ministry Matters are words from when the Baltimore Washington Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church sought to cut funding for the ministry at the University of Maryland.  While the conference did succeed in some respects, the ministry is now growing again.

But growing is often the last words that are used in campus ministry work today.

Instead, much of the realm of campus ministry has been left obliterated, as bishops and bureaucracies across many denominations seek to curtail funding and sell off aging buildings as commodity to pay off debts within the larger structure in the Church.  In places where campus ministry does not exist, there have been intermittent attempts to put local churches in charge, almost all of which have failed due largely to the lack of full time dedicated staffing, as Mark so eloquently remarks.  But what about the other ministry sites, the ones that have survived and yet are struggling along.  And what about the places where there we are to birth new campus ministries or resurrect ones that have died off.  What has happened to the field? Read more…

Campus Ministry is the laboratory from which the future church will come

James C. Baker (founder of the first Wesley Foundation)

Capital Campaigns and Campus Ministry

 

I recently began attending classes to fulfill a certificate program in Non Profit Organizational Management through the Indiana School of Philanthropy. The first of which, Managing the Capital Campaign, has renewed my thoughts about how we as campus ministers should be considering our role as Executive Directors.

For much of the last two decades, campus ministry’s principle reality has been decreasing funds and increased workloads. We might also argue that greater explanation and advocacy of our jobs has also become more prevalent, but everything seems to go hand in hand. In this era of funding cuts and great shifts in the field, I have heard few of my colleagues speak to large scale campaigns which can in many ways solidify the life of campus ministry for decades to come.

Read more…

The State of the Higher Education system

During his speech last evening, Barack Obama talked about the need for universities to make access to quicker graduation available.  He also proposed that states increased their support of higher education and that somehow we have to stop tuition from going up and make sure that “Higher education can’t be a luxury – it (has to be) an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.” Read more…