SC11: Fishing or Pond-Saving, you decide…

I’m looking forward to leading worship at InterVarsity’s National Staff Conference 2011 next week. Its our triennial gathering of all staff in our organization — maybe somewhere around 1,000 staff from campus ministries, our camps, intervarsity press, our national service center– for the purposes of training, casting vision and seeking God’s direction for the future of our movement.

I’m feeling a ton of different emotions, excitement, nervousness, anticipation, curiosity… but above all, I’ve felt a unusually strong sense of confidence that God is really going to do great things in and through us.

We are focusing on “Campuses Renewed” the second part of InterVarsity’s national vision of seeing “Students and faculty transformed, campuses renewed and world changers developed.” Out of that great vision, the first and last seem pretty clear — we have a good idea of what it looks like for life transformation to happen or to see people go out and change the world (not easy, but at least we have a picture of what it looks like.)

But campuses renewed? Not as clear.

We’ve often used the analogy that InterVarsity isn’t just out to fish and save individual fish, but we want to save the pond. Our national leadership puts it in a helpful way:

InterVarsity is more than a student ministry—we are a university ministry! The first of our twelve core values identifies the college and university as our context and declares: We are called to be a redeeming influence among its people, ideas and structures.

What does it look like for Northwestern's campus to be renewed?

That all sounds cool, but again, what does it look like for us to save the pond that is our university world? What does it look like to be a redeeming influence among its people ideas and structures?

That’s what we’ll be exploring during the week. We’ll be hearing from staff who have made significant and concrete impacts on all three aspects of the campus, people, ideas and structures. We’ll be hearing from university officials like Ann Milner and Mary Poplin, hearing their take on what it looks like, from their perspective, to see actual structures within the university change. We’ll be hearing from Andy Crouch, Peter Cha and William Tate, Academic and Church leaders on what it looks like to make an impact on the big ideas that are shaping and are shaped by the university world. But above all, we will be hearing from God, and asking him to send us forward, trusting that all these lofty things are not human-ideas, but part of God’s mission.

Hopefully this gives you a picture into why I feel so many different emotions. Three years ago, in 2008, I went to National Staff Conference 08, my first time, as a pretty green staff who was going through a lot of things, personal issues, financial issues, professional issues. I was struggling with my fundraising, emotionally confused, and spiritually still getting adjusted to life in full-time ministry. Staff Conference was a place where I brought a lot of my issues, my junk, my questions. It was one of the few times as a staff, I didn’t have to do anything but just receive from God. And it was one of the key points of my past few years.

This time around, I am still in a lot of similar places, still pretty green, maybe green/yellow (My Asian American identity has grown). My fundraising is just AAIGHT. I’m still wrestling through similar personal things, I’m still day-by-day trying to figure out what it means to be a Christian in full-time ministry. BUT I also recognize when I pull my head out of the sand, that God has done a GREAT GREAT work in my and through me these past three years, personally I’ve grown deeper in what it looks like for me to follow him. Professional, I’ve learned a ton more about what it means to be a campus minister, to serve on IV staff and to do a lot of aspects of the job, including feeling increasingly more confident about fundraising. So all in all, I’m actually really excited to enter staff conference this year in a similar but at the same time very different place.

Dumbledore could give us advice on how to renew the campus, but he is not available!

But this is still a huge assignment with a lot of complications and logistics, more than I’ve ever had to do in my life. In that area I know I will need to depend on God and others because I overall suck at that. But even in the areas I think I am strong in, I am constantly reminding myself that this just like any other ministry I do on campus, at church or in the neighborhood: in my weakness He is strength.

Anyways, all this to say I could use your prayers in the coming weeks. Whether you are a regular reader to this irregular blog or you have randomly come in because you’ve searched for “tasmanian devils” or “italian food” or “anthony bourdain” (three common search terms that sometimes get people to my blog interestingly…), I’d appreciate your prayers. And for all those russians who are randomly leaving spam comments on random entries, you can pray for me too, comrades.


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