It took about three weeks in my new post for me to feel like an out-of-touch academic. One afternoon last week I was sitting in my office about to send an email when I suddenly thought, “Oh no! I have no idea what’s happening in the church, ‘in real life’ ministry, right now.” It felt horrible.
After seven years of being in seminary, or leading a parish or emergent ministry, the transition to work in an office on a college campus has been striking. I can’t help but notice the contrast…
- I feel as if the church, constantly changing as it is, has progressed well beyond my understanding in the last month.
- I have lost several mayorships on (the geolocation social networking app) Foursquare because I’m on campus rather than in coffee shops.
- I read and write more on a wider variety of topics.
- Though I see many more people on an average day than I did when I served The Project F-M, I don’t relate to them as pastor. It’s not that I’m no longer pastoral, I just don’t function in that way anymore — as if I put my pastor golf club back in the bag, knowing I won’t need it much on this course.
- And the strangest thing has happened: elbow patches have suddenly appeared on all my jackets and sweaters.
I suppose I should have known this would occur, but even so: I’m shocked with the speed of it. So I’m looking for ways to stay attune to the goings-on of practical ministry even as I become more engaged in the study of and faith and leadership.
Beyond networking with pastors (as I did a local synod leadership conference this week) what practices do you (or your best professors) use to stay up-to-date on Christian ministry?
image: “I Thought They Were Supposed To Be Ivory” by Roger Lynn