26 January 2011

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This was the weekly email to our students in LCM this week.  The Quadrennial Review process is something I'd love to see required of all ELCA churches, and I wish I'd known how to do it at the congregation I served prior to this call.  Anyone care to share review procedures at their own congregations?  

Our LCM Board spent Saturday morning and afternoon beginning the Quadrennial Review process for our campus ministry.  Every four years, each campus ministry in the ELCA goes through a review process where we look at the previous four years, evaluate what's gone well and what hasn't, look at our context to see if we have a good view of the environment to which we are called, and (I might say, most importantly) identify a few strategic goals for the next four years. 

A SWOT Grid at our Review Session Saturday.
I was called here just after the previous Quadrennial Review, so this is my first time through the process as a campus pastor.  Frankly, it's intimidating.  We sat and worked through twelve different aspects of campus ministry Saturday morning, and after a while all you can see are the failures:  opportunities missed or squandered, important ministry checkpoints forgotten or unfulfilled, places where I as a pastor or we as a ministry could have made a difference but didn't.  We've done some good work in the past four years, things of which we (and God) should be proud - but that old sinner in me just kept leaping up and pointing out the stuff that could have been done better.

Even with the intimidation factor, I love this process and what it can do for our campus ministry.  I can tell you that this is not required for most congregations in the ELCA, and I think it should be.  We are called to more than just surviving in the name of Jesus.  We are called to look critically at ourselves and the environment in which we live and breathe and work and play, to review what's been accomplished, or not, and dream about what God might be up to in years to come and how God might do those things through us.  Survival mentalities lead to minimalist thinking - we look for what we must do for the sake of being here tomorrow instead of what we might do for the sake of God's promised future.  As a pastor in a congregation, I never developed a means by which I could lead a congregation through this kind of review process, a failing for which I hope my former congregation will forgive me.  Now, in campus ministry, it's going to happen whether I like it or not (and, once more, for the record, I DO like it).  The Quadrennial Review process will be a great gift to us as a campus ministry, and, frankly, to me as a pastor.  I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too.

Looking back and looking ahead can help us to see what's right in front of us today, here and now, and where God might be leading us at this moment.  We will need your input as members of the Lutheran Campus Ministry community.  In weeks to come we'll gather to work through review documents on Sunday nights, and on March 30-31 the Review team will be in Ames to talk with us, worship with us, learn about ISU and how we're a part of the community, and help us look at our ministry with an outsider's perspective.  I hope you'll make time to be a part of the Quadrennial Review process for LCM-ISU; your input and your reflection will provide a unique perspective on God's mission for Lutheran Campus Ministry at ISU, and we need as wide a perspective as we can gather.  See you at the Center.

Grace & peace,
Pastor Scott

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