Brandon Lazarus

Author's details

Name: Brandon Lazarus
Date registered: April 17, 2012
URL: https://profiles.google.com/111600363233769787986

Latest posts

  1. UMC Lead: I Am Better Than You: Confession of a WASP — July 8, 2014
  2. UMC Lead: Why Be Nervous? — June 27, 2014
  3. UMC Lead: The Answer Is A Question — June 10, 2014
  4. UMC Lead: How Is It With Your Soul? — May 29, 2014
  5. UMC Lead: Can Scripture Raise Up Women? — May 13, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. La Lengua de Lazarus: 47 Percenter Seminarian: Christianity Teaches That ‘People Are Entitled To Food’ — 2 comments
  2. La Lengua de Lazarus: Accountability Does Not Lead To Trust — 1 comment
  3. La Lengua de Lazarus: They WILL Know We Are Christians By Our Love — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Jul 08 2014

UMC Lead: I Am Better Than You: Confession of a WASP

Original post at http://umclead.com/i-am-better-than-you-confession-of-a-wasp/


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I am a WASP, a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male. I also happen to be heterosexual, able-bodied, and from an upper middle class family. In addition to these characteristics I inherited at birth, I also have a bachelors and masters degree, a car that is completely paid off, a house that is about 10 years from being paid off, and only $6k in student debt. All of this is to say that I am better than you, or at least that is what our society has led some to believe. If I’m entirely honest, I too have sometimes been led to believe this whether consciously or subconsciously. The reality is that because of predetermined factors at birth I have privileges others do not.

I cannot think of a single minority category into which I fall. This has meant that never once have I wondered if I was given, or not given, an opportunity based on my race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Growing up I was one to deny that racism, sexism, heterosexism and nearly any other type of oppression still existed in America. To be fair, until I left for college I never saw any of that, or at least I wasn’t looking for it. The more I have stepped outside on my little WASP box and interacted with my brothers and sisters who are different from me the more I have learned how far our society really is from giving everyone equal opportunity.

If you do not believe that racism and oppression are still prevalent in our society then there is little I can do in a blog post to make you believe any different. Instead I would encourage you to read some James Cone, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, or watch one of the many TED talks about discrimination in our nation and in our world. More importantly I would encourage you to talk to a friend or acquaintance that is different from you. Sit down with someone who fits a minority population to which you do not belong and ask how they’ve experienced discrimination in their lives. Go out and find someone from an earlier generation. Ask them about the civil rights movement, about the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and John F. Kennedy. Listen to their stories of pain, of struggle, and of fighting for liberty and freedom.

I full heartedly admit that I write this post out of ignorance. As I have already made clear, I don’t know what it’s like to experience discrimination. I believe, however, among people like me that admission is the first step in bringing about justice and equality. Those of us who are in privileged positions must daily live with that realization if we ever want to live in a society where neither oppression nor privilege exists. If we ignore our advantages then we too are ignoring the disadvantages that others experience. The very act of pretending that racism, sexism, heterosexism, and the like do not exist is something only afforded to those in privilege. Meanwhile, those who experience oppression must live with that reality everyday.

For this reason we cannot afford to use terms like “color-blindness” or “reverse-racism”. These are terms used by those in power in efforts to maintain and strengthen their power. If this were not such a serious matter it would be laughable that those terms have even entered into our vocabulary. No, instead we must bring to light the inequality that exists in our society. We must be willing to speak out when we see others mistreated or barred from certain rights or privileges because of the demographic they were born into.

How are we going to bring about full equality? I don’t know. I once believed that I could bring about equality. I figured since I am in such a position of privilege and power I ought to use that so that I can get ahead. After all, it would be better for a WASP who knows he’s a WASP to be in power than one who is unaware of his own privilege, right? The more I listen to my brothers and sisters who are different from me I learn how wrong I truly was, and am. Change is not going to come from white males in power talking with a bunch of other white males about how it’s wrong that only white males are in power. In speaking against the phrase “the end justifies the means” Martin Luther King Jr. said in The Trumpet of Conscience, “the ends are not cut off from the means… because the means represent the seed and the end represents the tree.”

King was speaking against using violence to achieve peace but the reasoning holds true with bringing about equality. The tree of equality as an end can only come from the seed of equality as the means. By this I mean that we cannot wield the power of WASPs to bring about equality but rather we must yield the power of WASPs to bring about equality. I once thought that I could help the fight for equality by infiltrating places dominated by white males in order to say that we needed more women and minorities in these places. I now realize that perhaps the greatest statement would be to turn away those opportunities until a more just and equal system was in place.

Perhaps this very post is an exercise in hypocrisy. UMCLEAD has a great diversity of bloggers yet here I am as a white male writing a post on oppression and diversity. I welcome your accountability, your comments, and your suggestions. I welcome my brothers and sisters who are Black, Asian, Latino, gay, bi, trans, female, poor, disabled, or of any other population to which I do not belong to chime in and offer your thoughts. I may not know exactly how we’re going to bring about equality and the end of oppression but I am certain that silence and inaction will never bring it about.

Photo from flickr user Steffern239 used under creative commons. Cropped from original.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/07/i-am-better-than-you-confession-of-a-wasp/

Jun 27 2014

UMC Lead: Why Be Nervous?

Original post at http://umclead.com/why-be-nervous/


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I sit here writing this post on the morning of my first day as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Clover, SC. Although I have participated in various forms of church leadership over the past six or seven years this will be the first time I am given the official title of pastor and the three little letters before my name, rev. Over the past several weeks and months since learning of my licensing as a local pastor and my eventual appointment I have had many people congratulate me and ask me various questions.

The one questions that I hear most often is, “Are you nervous?” I have learned that anytime anyone asks you a yes or no question they have an assumption of what the answer should and will be. I have also noticed that people are disappointed when they find out that their assumptions are wrong. This makes for a rather awkward situation when I tell people that I am not nervous. I can tell that my response often confuses them and disappoints them. “Well I mean surely you’re at least a little nervous,” they continue. I explain that honestly, I’m not nervous.

Now some think that my response is my trying to hide the truth. Surely I’m actually really nervous and I’m just trying to come off as tough, not so. Well if I’m not nervous then I’m a fool or simply overly prideful or arrogant. I admit that I can sometimes be a prideful or arrogant person. I don’t believe that is where my response comes from. Where my lack of nervousness stems from is instead my confidence in the education I received in seminary, my experiences in ministry over the years, and most importantly in my support system of wonderful teachers and mentors who hold me accountable to my faith.

When I say that I’m confident and prepared for ministry please don’t take this as me saying that I know everything and am prepared for everything that I will encounter. I believe one thing that separates a career in ministry from a career in accounting, mechanics, or law is that you can never actually be 100% prepared. The Holy Spirit, however, intercedes in order to fulfill the areas where we run far short. I don’t for one second think that I know everything nor know exactly how to respond in all situations. I am confident that my senior pastor, the supportive staff, and the loving congregation will let me know when I fail and will be there to help me as I continue to grow in faith and knowledge.

So today as I head into a new day, a new city, a new church, and a new chapter, I’m not nervous. Instead I am excited for the possibilities that are ahead. Last night I had the opportunity to attend the missions meeting for FUMC Clover. I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off my time here than hearing about all the wonderful missions this church is already a part of and hopes to be in the future. Methodist polity is set up in a way that the majority of the ministry of the church should be done by the church, not the pastor. I can see the calling placed on this church and I hope to lead alongside them for as long as I remain appointed here.

So I ask you to be in prayer with me, especially over the next few weeks and months as I settle into the life of First Clover. I too will be in prayer with you, wherever you are in your ministry, clergy or lay. I pray that we can be confident in Christ and confident in our own failures knowing sure and well that our brothers and sisters as well as the Holy Spirit will be there to pick us up. May we not be paralyzed by fear or nerves but liberated by God’s all encompassing love because if I am nervous about anything I am nervous that if I try too hard not to fail I will fail to see God at work.

Image from Flckr user Domiriel. Used under creative commons. Cropped from original.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/06/why-be-nervous/

Jun 10 2014

UMC Lead: The Answer Is A Question

Original post at http://umclead.com/the-answer-is-a-question/


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A little while ago I read something a friend of mine wrote and it troubled me. What troubled me was not so much what he said but how he said it. I found his tone to be angry, flippant, and demeaning. I wrote last time about my participation in Wesleyan class meetings and that accountability is important to me. I think the United Methodist Church would do well with less judgment and more accountability. Since he is someone I know well and we have practiced accountability in different fashions, I decided to reach out to him.

I sent him a message letting him know that his writing seemed more like an angry tirade than a desire for holy conferencing and conversation. He responded saying that although he appreciated the accountability, he wasn’t really in a good place. I went on to further explain how I interpreted his writing and told him he should have done more to encourage dialogue rather than shut down those who disagreed with him. He responded in a manner I initially thought to be defensive so I ended the conversation figuring I would talk to him later when he had time to think about it.

Brother, I know you are reading this and I have already said this, but I need to say it again. I’m sorry, I’m a hypocrite, and in trying to hold you accountable it turns out I was the one who needed to be held accountable. In responding to you in the way I did I failed to acknowledge who you are, how you felt, and how it was with your soul. Instead of talking to you, I talked about you. When I should have started with questions, I started with answers.

You see, I believe accountability is important, but when it comes to accountability I often find myself saying, “There is a fine line between accountability and judgment.” Frankly I say that a lot. I believe it, but I’m not sure I really ever knew what it meant or where the line was. In reflecting on this experience, I find the difference between accountability and judgment is the difference between questions and answers.

When I contacted my brother I started with an answer. The answer I gave him was that his tone was inappropriate and his writing did more to divide than to unite. The main problem with the answer I gave him is he never asked the question. Rather than sending him a text message with an answer he wasn’t looking for and wasn’t even right, I should have reached out to him with a question. A question like, “Brother, how is it with your soul? I read what you wrote, where is this coming from? How can I be in prayer or solidarity with you?” And most importantly I should have asked, “Do you want to talk about it?” Instead, I jumped in with what I thought was the answer he needed. My intent was to heal but my actions and words did otherwise. I responded in a way that did not show care for him, only in what he said and what I thought he should have said.

Accountability does not come through answers from without but answers from within. A healthy accountability comes from asking others questions so they can find the answers themselves. I find my greatest mentors ask me far more questions than they give me answers. They do not take me directly to where I want to go but rather walk along side me to where I need to go.

When we disagree with someone, whether it is what they say or how they say it, the best way forward is not to tell them how and why they’re wrong. Instead, approach your sister or brother with questions. Through your time of dialogue, maybe they will realize for themselves they were wrong. Or maybe, like in my case, you’ll realize it is you who is wrong and in need of repentance. Most likely, you are both wrong and your holy conversation will lead you both to the truth that can only come through the work of the Holy Spirit who calls us to reconciliation.

Brother, I am sorry for giving you all the answers (which were incorrect by the way) when what I should have come to the table with were questions. I promise to learn and grow from this experience and be a better brother in Christ. I promise to come to you not with answers, but with questions trusting full and well you will do the same for me.

 

Image from flicker user Stuart Farrell

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/06/the-answer-is-a-question/

May 29 2014

UMC Lead: How Is It With Your Soul?

Original post at http://umclead.com/how-is-it-with-your-soul/


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How is it with your soul? These six simple words shaped the early Methodist movement and have shaped my life over the past few years. The question comes from the early Methodist class meetings. These meetings were not social gatherings, Bible studies, book studies, or curriculum based. Instead, the souls of the members were the curriculum. Men and women gathered in groups usually numbering 10-12 people and they discussed how God was working in their lives. The main purpose of these gatherings was to hold one another accountable to their growth with God. This was not an intense accountability where everyone confessed all of their sins (although there was a place for that as well, called a band meeting) but to “watch over one another in love.”

My first experience with a class meeting of sorts came from my time in Dallas living in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer House. Once a week we gathered to ask one another the question, “how is it with your soul?” We pushed one another to not simply talk about how our weeks were but to really look for where God was at work in our lives. We then ended by asking what we could pray for one another and remind each other that in the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. The next opportunity came through the New Day worship community. We would gather every other week for a meal and gathering. Our time was not directly guided by the question “how is it with your soul” but by our rule of life to which we covenanted.

When I found myself back in Columbia, SC I yearned to be a part of class meeting but could not find such a group. Most churches have plenty of Bible studies, Sunday school classes, book studies, social gatherings, etc. but they do not have class meetings that gather solely for he purpose of “watching over one another in love.” I then decided to start my own at the church I was interning with. About that same time Kevin Watson came out with his book The Class Meeting. I picked up a copy and found it to be a great resource to starting up a class meeting. Watson’s book comes with an eight-week study guide that navigates the group from learning about what a class meeting is and why it’s important to actually functioning as a class meeting.

One of the main points that Watson makes in his book, and I agree entirely, is that the purpose of a class meeting is not to be a Bible study, book study, social club, or Sunday school class. Although each of those has its importance, which is not what these meetings are for. Watson places church small groups into three categories of affinity groups, information-driven groups, and transformation-driven groups. As I mentioned, most churches have plenty of affinity and information-driven groups but most are lacking in opportunities for transformation driven groups. Too often small groups are focused on learning about God but not learning how to be in relation to God and to our neighbors. Class meetings are a place to focus on the latter.

I used the final ten weeks of my internship to start a class meeting using Watson’s book. I began by making a list of people in the church who I believed had a hunger to grow in their faith and would be willing to participate in the class meeting. In the end I found four people who were both willing and able to meet on the day and time I had chose for the group. If this had been any other kind of group the low attendance would have bothered me. In this setting, however, I was not discouraged by the four people coming but encouraged by their desire to grow in faith and walk with me in this exercise of beginning a class meeting.

As we went through the chapters we discussed Methodism, small groups, accountability, what is the soul, and many other topics and questions. Each meeting was shaped by a discussion of each chapter of the book and our own reflection of God in our lives. On week nine we dropped the book an began to meet with nothing but a question, “how is it with your soul.” I found in this group what I had experienced in my three years in Dallas and I saw as this weekly meeting became just as important to those four members as it was to me. As I have now transitioned out, the group plans to continue meeting and sharing this ministry with the church. I’m not sure what will happen with the group. They may invite more people and start over with the book. They may continue without the book. They could possibly split up and start multiple groups. There’s also the possibility that the class meeting dissolves and nothing more comes from it. Regardless, I am thankful for the time I was able to spend watching over one another in love and I pray that we all may continue to grow in our faith in God, not simply growth in our knowledge of who God might be.

What are your experiences in Wesleyan Class meetings where the focus in not on affinities or information but on transformation? These groups were once mandatory for membership in a Methodist Church but now they are rarely found in any United Methodist Church. Could class meeting be instrumental in moving forward as a denomination and as Christians?

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/05/how-is-it-with-your-soul-3/

May 13 2014

UMC Lead: Can Scripture Raise Up Women?

Original post at http://umclead.com/can-scripture-raise-up-women/


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A couple of weeks ago I preached a sermon on Thomas. In my sermon I mentioned that it was unfair for Thomas to be given the title of doubting Thomas when there were others in scripture who showed moments of doubt like Peter denying Christ or Abraham doubting God’s promise and having a child with Hagar. After the service a church member came up to me and said, “You got it wrong, it wasn’t Abraham who doubted God, it was Sarah.” I was taken aback for a moment but then explained it wasn’t Sarah who had sex with Hagar, but Abraham. God had made covenant with Abraham and so regardless of what Sarah asked him to do, he too had to lack the faith to think that God would provide. She then replied, “I never really thought of it that way.”

Without being able to read scripture critically, no one would ever think of it that way. The way the story is told in Genesis clearly paints Sarah to be a villain who manipulates and controls Abraham into having sex wit her slave but then immediately regrets the decision and places all the blame on Abraham. Abraham then nobly gives the power of choice over to Sarah who abuses Hagar so that she runs away. Then, after she has Isaac, she again sends away Hagar and Ishmael.

I’m not going to defend all of Sarah’s actions. She certainly shows moments of sin and doubt but to paint her as the source of sin and Abraham as a noble sinless man is simply wrong. As I shared with the church member, Abraham too had to doubt God enough to have a child with Hagar. This is not to mention when Abraham later offers up Sarah to Abimelech out of fear in order to cover his own tail. No, Sarah is not sinless, but neither is Abraham.

Unfortunately women throughout scripture are often the ones portrayed as sinful or faithless. I mean, look at the story of the fall. It is Eve, after all, who ate the forbidden fruit and brought sin into the world, right? It is the men who are called to protect women from sin, speak for God because they are the faithful ones. That is, if we want to read scripture that way. When we read closer into scripture we see that women are no more the source of sin than men. Abraham doubted God. Noah was a drunk. Moses was a murderer. David was an adulterer. Paul was a terrorist. The list goes on and on.

As soon as we see that women are not the source of sin nor more sinful than men we can begin to see that neither are men the source of faith nor the more faithful. God created humankind in God’s image, male and female. Women in leadership is not a sign of culture breaking away from the Gospel but rather the kingdom breaking into the world. I began by saying that this all started from a sermon on Thomas. It is fitting since Thomas is criticized for not believing the other disciples when they told him they had seen the risen Christ but let’s not forget that the other disciples did not believe when Mary Magdalene, a woman, had first seen the risen Christ.

It pained me to hear someone say that Abraham was blameless and it pains me to write this blog post. The person who cam up to me is a wonderful woman and leader and she is raising her children to respect women as leaders. We have come a long way in equality for women but we still have a long way to go before we can live into the image in which God created us. The road will be even longer if we are not willing to read deep into scripture to find that image. A reading of scripture that continues to perpetuate a belief that women are sinful and need a faithful husband in order to be faithful themselves will only continue to perpetuate a culture that justifies silencing and oppressing women. A proper reading of scripture, however, will allow us to raise up women as leaders and celebrates God at work in their lives. I know that I for one would in no way be the man I am today if it were not for the many wonderful female mentors and leaders in my life.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/05/can-scripture-raise-up-women/

Apr 25 2014

UMC Lead: Forum Friday: Campus Ministry after 25 Years

Original post at http://umclead.com/forum-friday-campus-ministry-after-25-years/


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I sat down with Tom Wall the campus minister at the Wesley Foundation at the University of South Carolina also known as the Methodist Student Network (MSN). Tom was my campus minister while I was at USC and he is about to enter into his 25th year with MSN. I was curious to hear his perspective on campus ministry and if/how it was changed over the last 25 years.

You’re going in to your 25th year of ministry at the Methodist Student Network. In that time what have been some of the major changes?

It’s interesting trying to think about when I first came here and what was going on. A big difference is that when I came it was the partnership among Lutherans and Methodists (PALM) and that’s no longer going on. I think you find less ecumenical ministries now than about 20 years ago. In one sense we are stronger being a single denomination in terms of numbers and program. The Lutherans wanted to separate and have their own identity and liturgy.

The ecumenical spirit is not as strong as it once was. Even in terms of our council of chaplains, we still meet but we don’t do as much together. Over the last 20-25 years ecumenism has been lost a little bit. At orientation you seem to see a lot more students claim “nondenominational.” They say that denominations have given themselves a bad name. I try to explain that even though many organizations say they are nondenominational they still have their own polity, theology, worship, organization, etc and there you go, you’ve got your denomination! I think the idea of nondenominational is mostly fictitious.

There are still a number of students that are faithful to their denominations but probably these days less faithful. Students go where they find an interest, where their friends go or for a particular “political climate” of a campus ministry. Students don’t feel pressured to go to church.

Where do you believe this lack of faith in a particular denomination stems from?

They’re more inquisitive. They have the internet and there’s much more diversity on campus. They’re asking questions about faith that they simply weren’t asking 20-25 years ago because internet and diversity has opened up the conversation.

Even with the conversation opening up, it’s also made spirituality more private than 20-25 years ago. They have experience with their computer or a book and they believe they don’t need the group as much.

I also notice students are not as committed to campus ministry as before. When I started here campus ministry was a focal point for many students. Now students have a lot of different things going on like some of the honor students that believe spirituality is just another component. It’s something they have to do to be more well-rounded, to have something else on the resume. They have a sense that it is important but not the most important thing. It is placed alongside other stuff.

I don’t think this is much different from the rest of society. Campus ministry mirrors society. The same changes you see on campus are the same as the culture at large. They’re taught to have lots of eggs in the basket.

How has campus ministry changed in light of these societal changes?

It’s changed our programing. We now have 4 retreats a year instead of 2 because we realized students are very busy. It gives them more choice. Even if they didn’t have plans before they’re likely to jump ship at the last minute if something better comes along. They aren’t willing to give up a whole 48 hours of a weekend but instead may come late or leave early.

Mission trips have also taken off over the last 10 years. When I came here we only had 1 mission trip a year but now we have 4 or 5 trips every year. It shows the students are wanting to do more and more mission work. Service has always been important but now we do more than before. Students like the practicality and immediate gratification. Additionally everybody has service now. The university itself has taken on service learning and at our awards day for the university there aren’t just one or two awards for service but every department and organization seems to have an award to acknowledge service. Students are introduced to service in many ways. No longer does campus ministry have a monopoly on service work.

Also, the university has a great counseling service so I don’t do as much counseling. Generally speaking students nowadays come with greater problems than 20-25 years ago. Serious problems like sexual abuse, substance abuse, problems at homes, many issues that we were not seeing as much before.

What are some examples of the issues you didn’t see before?

Sexual abuse, abuse at home, substance abuse. They have more personal and psychological issues than they seemed to have before. Maybe they are just more likely to talk about it but I sense there are bigger and deeper problems. The level of stress on campus has gone way up. Before stress would come out around midterms but now it is seen immediately on campus from pressures on themselves and pressure from their parents. They’re much more susceptible to stress.

What is MSN’s role in light of these greater problems?

We offer a lot of the same things but in light of the situation it should be seen as more important. The number of kids who are lonely on campus and have trouble with relationships, a lot of what we’re about is teaching students how to be friends, friends with each other and friends with God. We want to give them a place of belonging. That’s why we have so many retreats, so that students can have an opportunity to connect. I find it ironic that although we have more ways to connect like twitter and facebook, they aren’t really connecting in a life giving way.

Worship, small groups, retreats, all speak to students at a new and deeper level. I try to share a message about community, acceptance, love of others, and love of self. These are the basic things that students are struggling with even more now than 20-25 years ago. Small Groups seem to be more important now than they used to be. We hope to have more small groups at the beginning of the year than we have before. Rather than seeing worship as the place to recruit small group people, we want to see people being proactive and outreaching for the small groups for that to be the base. I believe that helps people have a sense of belonging.

I answered my call to ordained ministry while at MSN. When I did I learned that for at least four years before me and the three years that followed at least one person answered the same call while at MSN. Is that fairly new? Where do you think this comes from?

It happened more when we became MSN. We changed a good bit when we separated from the Lutherans and created our own identity. This is a place where many people wrestle with their vocation. Not just ordained ministry but other life callings. I think students take more ownership in campus ministry now than they used to. They want to take ownership and be in charge to a degree. That has helped people because they can do ministry more and not just show up for things. Students are organizing more and so they have a better sense of call. It’s been a good vehicle for attracting people to ordained ministry and all forms of ministry.

How do Wesley Foundations fit in the larger picture of the United Methodist Church?

I feel we’re often on the periphery of things. There’s both a freedom in that and a dilemma. Often people don’t see the impact of the ministry. Campus Ministry can be a saving grace for the church not just for raising leaders but also in how we do ministry. We have a lot we can teach the local church in the present context and culture. We don’t have a lot of resources in terms of ministry and we have to be adaptable to change quickly. We have to incorporate people quickly. You have a lot of turnover and so you may show up one semester and the next semester you are the president. Your gifts can be utilized immediately. I can’t speak for all campus ministries but we don’t have the bureaucracy you often find in the local churches. Ministry can just happen.

Sometimes the church structure blocks ministry from happening. In some churches it takes 8-10 meetings just to approve something simple like the use of a parking lot! There’s simply no need for that. In Campus Ministry we’ve learned to listen to students and when something emerges in terms of their desires to be in ministry we empower them to go out and do that. Often that doesn’t happen in the local churches. Sometimes the church can stifle ministry instead of facilitating it. I think the church as a whole could learn from Campus Ministry but it often doesn’t much pay attention to it because the Campus Ministries don’t contribute much to the budget.

What’s it like with all the turnover? You’ve been here for almost 25 years. In that same timeframe other pastors may have served 5 or 6 other churches, changing every 4-6 years yet your whole congregation changes every 4-6 years without you moving.

There is a lot of grieving. Especially over these last 4 or 5 years I’ve grieved more. George Duffie, who preceded me, had this image of Campus Ministry. He told me, “If you like building sand castles you’ll like working in Campus Ministry.” I asked what he meant and he said. “Well you build a sand castle. It’s lovely and beautiful, but then the tide comes and washes it all away and you start over.” It’s tough, but it’s also good in a way because if your house has termites, it’s nice to start over.

It makes you think all the time about how to be welcoming and how to offer hospitality. It’s is so important to the church. How can you welcome people and get them involved and empower them very quickly. Students just like churches can get comfortable and form little cliques that keep people out or sends a bad message. I am constantly reminding students, “remember how you were and felt when you first came in.” If you can somehow capture and preserve that feeling then you know how it feels. I think this helps you become more hospitable.

Any Final Thoughts?

Every year is different. It forces you to change. Campus Ministry changes more often and faster in a sense than churches at the local level. Being on a University Campus is a fun and exciting place to be. It’s also an unreal place to be to some degree. I don’t deal with death a lot. I don’t do many funerals or babies’ baptisms but I do a lot of weddings. In Campus Ministry you’re talking about a particular population. It’s still very much the real world, it’s just a different world.

Permanent link to this article: http://methoblog.com/3_0/2014/04/forum-friday-campus-ministry-after-25-years/

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