I Twitter.  The problem is I’ve become overwhelmed by the other Twitters.  I set up this auto-f0llow thing and ended up following way too many people.  I could go through and unfollow a bunch of folks, but that would be too much work.

Instead I’m going to attempt a play on Follow Friday.  Each Friday I will pick 5 Twitters that I follow and tweet them under the #FollowFriday meme.  Additionally, I’ll follow them via mobile updates to my phone.  I’ll just follow those 5 for one week on my phone, then pick 5 others.

My hope is that 5 Twitterers to my phone won’t be too overwhelming (kinda like mini-meme management).  Additionally, this could serve up interesting or unexpected creative occurrences – stuff I would miss otherwise and may lead to new relationships, connections, or Spirit-induced goodness.

This week my 5 are:


Over it.


I have completed my second to last seminary course.  Yeah for me!  So good to have that over and done with.  It was a good course, excellent in many ways, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn and explore, but mainly, I’m just happy to be done.  I noted, probably 6-7 weeks ago, that the weekly homework assignments (which I fell behind on) felt like low-level, constant stress.  It produced non insignificant amounts of anxiety.  I’m very glad that is over.

Now that that course is behind me I’m looking forward to what is next.  I’m very excited about the next – and LAST – class I’ll be taking at Fuller.  The course is ML500 Teamwork and Leadership with Shelley Trebesch.  I’m headed to Pasadena for two weeks in January for the course.  Looking forward to hanging out with some of our Pasadena friends and being on campus for my last class will be wonderful.  I’m bummed, however, that I’ll be there sans family.  And I know they are bummed too.

Between now and when I head West I’m pondering what is on my plate.  This Fall my focus was mainly split between my seminary course and campus ministry at NKU.  Of course, that doesn’t include the day-to-day life management of our family and myself.  It has been a good, but full, semester.  Now that the semester has come to a close and Christmas shopping is almost done, I’m taking stock of things both big and small.  No big revelations or realizations.  Just life.  Very blessed to be surrounded by those who love and care for me.  Incredibly grateful for an opportunity to begin and experiment with a new ministry at NKU.  Excited for this new year ahead of us…. new baby, new gardens, and many new adventures.

I am realizing that I am overwhelmed by the administrative demands of ministry and our household.  Not sure what to do about it, but it just is.  I’m hoping that this new year brings some systemic changes that make for easier management (not of people, but stuff, money, etc…).  I’ve never felt like I’ve needed an Administrative Assistant, but right now I really wish I had one.

I’m at the Kentucky Conference of United Methodist Church HQ for an all day meeting of Bishop’s Task Force on Campus Ministry.

We’re talking about Vision, Successes, Challenges, and Recommendations.

As United Methodists we live by the Book of Discipline, the governing document of the denomination.  There is a section (about 6 pages worth) on campus/collegiate/higher education ministry.  I’m not sure if I’m allowed to do this, but I’m posting a PDF of this section.  There is a lot there, so I doubt any/many of you will read this whole document, but if you get a chance to skim it – I would love to know your thoughts, impressions, and reactions.

Here it is – The Book of Discipline 2008 – Part V – Organization and Administration – Chapter Four – The Conferences – Section IX. The Annual Conference – Other Conference Agencies – ¶ 634. Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry

Via Crucis :: Immersion 2008 flyer

Well, I’ll admit it.  I’m procrastinating.  I should be writing a seminary paper on podcasting.  But at the moment I’m pondering more about non-linear, emergent, participatory, ambient music.

Yeah, I know.  You were thinking the exact. same. thing!

Specifically, I’m looking forward to Via Crucis :: Immerison 2010 that we’ll be creating this Spring. (if you want to play, let me know)  Every year we’ve had some kind of opening night event.  In 2006, Aradhna played a beautiful concert in the round.  In 2008, Isaac Karns (of the Pomegranates) conducted an ensemble of brilliant musicians who created a fantastic musical happening (I’ll repost the mp3s that we recorded soon).  In 2010, I’d love to push the envelope a bit further and create music together as a gathered body – but do it in a non-linear, emergent, participatory, ambient way.  I’ll attempt to delineate deliberately in reverse:


– It matters.  As much as worship isn’t only music – a helpful corrective from folks like Lilly Lewin – music remains a powerful and visceral way we connect with God, the world around us (in a sonic, vibration sorta way), and one another.  There is something about music that quite literally rings in our ears and penetrates to the heart.


– I’m thinking here of the musical genre, which our friend Wikipedia defines thusly:

Ambient music is a musical genre that focuses largely on the timbral characteristics of sounds, often organized or performed to evoke an “atmospheric”, “visual” or “unobtrusive” quality.

As such, this would be building on the work and thought of Brian Eno.  Deep resonances and earthy electronica that evoke (and perhaps, provoke) more than they instruct, lead, or demand.  Allowing the space between to be attended to as much, if not more, than the actual notes, sounds, or chords.


– One of the bones to pick with typical “worship music” – be that “traditional” (hymns, organs, choirs) or “contemporary” (bands, guitars, drums) is how non-participatory it actually is.  In both cases we watch the professionals/experts on the stage conduct us to minimally participate at the lowest common denominator.  Sure, we may sing – or some do – but that’s it.  Deciding what we sing, when we sing, how we sing and the notes to which we sing – that’s the expert’s job.  So, what if Via Crucis :: Immersion was a deeply participatory event?  Not just those who create the stations and engage the stations – but what if the music that is generated on opening night is fully participatory.  What if what existed that night would not exist if not for each person gathered – not merely in the spiritual presence sense – but in the actual live creation of music.  I’m thinking here of an Aural Event – that resonates from our the soles of our shoes to souls of our brains.  Sort of like a musical wiki.


– Imagine an aural event of ambient music created together by active, live participation that EMERGES out of a set of simple rules that everyone follows.  I’m thinking here of the complex behavior of ant colonies or bee hives.  All created by leaderless systems of autonomous individuals following specific behavioral codes.  This music would be birthed out of people following a simple set of guidelines.  Nothing pre-ordained, no sheet music, no conductor.  Rather when the gathered assemble we would instruct them of 3 rules about how, what, and when they can play (this might be vocal or instrumental) – out of this social matrix (something that is intentional and crafted) the musical aural event would emerge.  Think fractals.  See also emergence on Wikipedia.


– This would not be a 1, 2, 3 process.  Sure, the Stations of the Cross are linear – they follow a path that leads from point A (Jesus’ condemnation) to point B (Jesus in the tomb).  And the music event would have a beginning and an end (though you could debate that to an extent).  But within the (parenthetical) confines of the Aural Event the music would follow it’s own path – not one that we predetermined.  It would be the Worship Music equivalent of a Spirit-led walk in the woods.

So, what do you think?  How could we pull this off?  What would we need to pull this off?


This is a follow up to my post, On Success, and it has generated some good feedback and dialog (note the comments, good stuff there).  Benson Hines posted some other links around the same topic.  Here’s an excerpt:

defining success in college ministry: Quite providentially, several college ministry thinkers have turned their attention simultaneously to the very important topic of how we define success in college ministry. (God is a gracious Synergist, isn’t He?) HeartOfCampusMinistry began a weekly series on the topic – with a post by the much-respected Dean Thune. (I’ll be posting in that series in a few weeks!) Aaron Klinefelter wrote a great (and interesting) post on an “ecological” understanding of college ministry success. I posted on why aiming for numbers isn’t (usually) a good college ministry priority. And Ian Clark is asking the same question about how we define success.

Be sure to check out those links.

I have also been pondering “modalities” and “sodalities” as they relate to the structure and success of campus ministry.  The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission by Ralph D. Winter is a must read for this.  Here’s a post about Ralph D. Winter (who died this past summer) from the Tall Skinny Kiwi.

Essentially the article deals with “Modalities” and “Sodalities” as two complementary structures for God’s Mission in the world.  This has been helpful as I think about what the WF is and how we come alongside Asbury Church and the other churches (UMC and otherwise) in the region.

Intervarsity thinks of itself this way, as do CCO and Campus Crusade, but we can also see this in the new monasticism of late with folks like Shane Claiborne and Communality (not to mention traditional Monasticism and those early Methodists).

Here’s an Intervarsity link about the topic:

Put simply, “modality” refers to the permanent structure, the local church. Multi-generational and geographically limited, a congregation puts down its roots and makes a long-term commitment to its community. As theologian Darrell Guder observes: “The parish must always be looked upon as the central and continuing form of the church.”

The second structure, “sodality,” focuses on a specialized aspect of the Lord’s purposes on earth. This “laser vision” may target a particular people group (e.g. Laotians), age group (e.g. high school students) or spiritual discipline (e.g. prayer).

Parachurch ministries like InterVarsity are sodalities—expressions of the local church, but not churches in themselves. “Para” means “along side.” Historical examples of such extensions of church ministry include first century mobile missionary missionary bands and medieval Catholic orders.

See also, The Order of the Mustard Seed.

My hope and prayer is that this will spur our minds as we consider what God is birthing at NKU and how the WF fits into the overall ecosystem of the Kingdom in our neck of the woods.

(oh, and I wrote and posted this while on a bus from NKU to downtown Cincinnati.  how cool is that?!)

On Success.


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!?

Oak Tree by Alan Creech

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.

Leaders of four of the denomination’s general agencies are shown here during a joint presentation to the 2008 General Conference about the Four Areas of Focus

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?

Ok, first off – my name is Aaron and this is my blog.  Really.  I’ve been delinquent in my posting of late and for that you can blame Twitter and Facebook and, well, Life.

But, I digress.

I’ve had the hankering of late for some networking road trips.  I’d love to go with a small group of folks from NKU/Cincy and meet-up with folks in other churches/campus ministries.  I’m thinking day trips or possibly staying one night if someone wants to put us up.  If you want to go, let me know!  Here are some of the folks/communities I’d love to meet-up (feel free to suggest more).

Road Trip #1
Lexington, KY

Aaron Mansfield and the instigators at The Rock/La Roca
Alan Creech
Kevin Clark and the folks at Vineyard Lexington

Bill Hughes and the faithful at UK Wesley Foundation
Lisa & Will Samson and subversives at Communality
and we may just sojourn to the (un)holy of Wilmore to visit the Asburians – here or there.

Road Trip #2
Columbus, OH

Father Larry Rice & The Newman Center
Jacob’s Porch
Landing Place

Road Trip #3
Indianapolis, IN

Lockerbie Central UMC
and Earth House Cafe
Englewood Christian Church
and Doulos Christou Books and The Englewood Review of Books