Been pondering “success” lately. What does it mean to be successful? Specifically, what does it mean for a campus ministry (or church) to be successful? And how the heck do we define “success” anyway!?
Success is clearly not numerical growth. It may involve numerical growth, but it is not exclusive to that. An oak tree is not successful if it merely grows larger and larger. In fact, even if it did grow larger and larger that would not be the oak tree’s ultimate aim, purpose, or telos. Surely part of an oak tree’s purpose – and by extension, definition of success – would be to reproduce. Making more oak trees makes an oak tree successful.
However, we can’t stop there. Just making more and more oak trees would eventually become self-defeating. A good forest has biodiversity as integral to its ultimate success. So an oak tree is only successful if it contributes to the overall success (in this case, think sustainability) of the forest/ecosystem/biosphere. In other words, it plays well with others.
How might our friend the oak tree translate into campus ministry? I think we need a ecological approach to ministry. How might a successful campus ministry contribute to the overall biodiversity of a college campus, of local churches, of other campus ministries? Maybe success is living sustainably in the social, spiritual environment in which we are situated.
As a leader of a United Methodist Campus Ministry it is important for me to know how those in authority over me define success. Here’s this from the Mother Church:
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry is the lead agency in providing assistance in developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world – the first of the Four Areas of Focus of The United Methodist Church.
These Four Focus Areas are meant to sharpen the mission of the church and direct critical aspects of our ministry in collaboration:
- Developing Principled Christian Leaders
- Congregational Development
- Ministry with the Poor
- Improving Health Globally
“We live in a world that once had courageous Christian leaders, but now cries out for them – the kind of women and men who are set apart to show by example how to live faithfully in bold discipleship and to engage a world starving for the Gospel,” the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, GBHEM’s general secretary, said during General Conference 2008.
How can these 4 areas guide our thinking for what is a successful campus ministry? I’ve blogged about these elsewhere, by the way. And while these are all related to making disciples of Jesus Christ, I wonder if these are leading indicators or trailing indicators (like unemployment numbers for this economic recession we’re in). If we made disciples would we then see these things happen? Or would doing these things make disciples? The answer is probably both, but I think it is an important question.
What are your thoughts? What is success for a campus ministry?
Filed under: Discipleship, environment | 9 Comments
Tags: campus ministry, NKU, success