Monday, November 24, 2014

Guest Blog: "The Other Side of the Fence" by Daniel Berry

I served as a college minister for 13 years on 3 different campuses in the south. I loved being a campus minister. For the last two years, I have served as the Lead Pastor of a growing church in Indiana. I often wondered what it would be like going from a campus minister to a pastor. Two years later, here are some of my observations.

1. Football is football. Ministry is ministry.
The vast majority of how I served as a minister while on campus is still what I do in the local church. I am trying to help people find and grow in a relationship with Christ. While there are differences, I think it is an important statement to make from the beginning. A minister is a minister no matter where he is serving.

2. I deal with a LOT less politics now.
I know political struggles happen in the local church and maybe I am just blessed with a great church to serve with (which I am), but as a campus minister I felt the politics a lot more. I always felt the pressure to represent not only Christ, but the theology of every church in my denomination. Seemingly minor theological doctrines (to me) were seen as big deals in the eyes of some of the churches I represented. Often, I would be asked my personal opinion on such doctrines. I constantly felt I was being assessed and judged by pastors. I fully understand that some of this may have been paranoia on my part, but in talking with many other campus ministers through the years, I can assure you my feelings are very common among campus ministers.

3. I am no longer the oldest person in the room.
I supervise a staff that is older than me. Most of the teams (committees) in my church are chaired by people older and wiser than me. I find there is less pressure on me having to be the wise voice of experience on all matters. I like having people to lean into with experience and understanding. Yet, I understand that despite being younger, I have to lead. I am learning to live in the balance of these two tensions.

4. I have to be more intentional to be around people who do not know Christ.
As a campus minister, I was always on the front lines. I was constantly around lost college students. The bigger my church gets, the more meetings and distractions can exist that take me away from being in the world.

5. Pastors do not network like college ministers.
I always regarded my other campus ministers as family. I try hard to make our staff a family, but other pastors seem more guarded. When I'm around other pastors, the conversations seem more forced and less authentic. They do not tend to be as vulnerable when we gather together. The people I call most for advice, prayer, and encouragement
are still campus ministers.

6. I still love college students.
I help teach the college Bible study every Sunday at my church. I feel a need to stay connected with this generation. They need to feel like the church cares for them. In
turn, they help me stay relevant. They ask honest questions, often without filter. They
remind me that they are not the church of tomorrow, but the church of today.

To all the college ministers out there I just want to encourage you. Thank you for what you are doing. Keep your eyes on Christ. You are making a difference.

Daniel Berry is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, West Lafayette, Indiana.

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