“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
I have always loved the fall season. Here in the Midwest, the humidity drops and the leaves begin to change colors. It is harvest time, with plenty of fresh berries, apples, squashes, and sweet corn. Hunting season begins in Wisconsin, so I have excellent reasons to get out in God’s beautiful creation and spend time with my dad and children. I also get to coach middle school football, yet another excuse to tear me away from my incessant computer work and spend quality time with young people. Sunday school began this past Sunday, so I got to sing songs about Jesus, play games, and join in a meal with a wonderful intergenerational group. I get to teach the high school class again this year!
With all of these activities, fall is also an incredibly busy time! My camp friends have made it through the non-stop action of summer camp, which means that my team is hard at work sorting camper surveys, entering data, sending follow-up surveys, and crunching the numbers. This summer, nearly 4,000 summer campers and over 1,600 camper parents completed surveys for our research projects! We have a lot of work to do in translating these data into usable information for our camps.My campus ministry friends are in full swing with the new students beginning classes and another year of exciting ministry beginning! Many of them are seeking to put the findings from our campus ministry study into practice.
Each fall, the changing behaviors of animals and trees remind me that God has created this world to change and adapt. Fall becomes for me a time of personal renewal and consideration for how God is calling me to adapt my ministry practices. I strongly believe that research is pointless unless it can be translated into real changes and outcomes on the ground. As the seasons change, we must continue to adapt and ready ourselves for what might be in store for us. I love thinking through and working to apply the exciting research findings into real ministry contexts. That is why I continue to teach and coach young people. That is why I love traveling around to meet with ministry professionals. The fall is a season when I get to travel and talk with many of you as you discern God’s will in your present context and work to adapt your ministry in changing times. Here are a few places you can find me and my work this fall:
October 4-5: The Confirmation Conference – Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ: This is the culmination of more than four years of work and research on confirmation ministries in five denominations throughout the United States through The Confirmation Project. I will be presenting on the role of camps and retreats in educational ministries.
October 14: Weird and Faithful Event – Lutheran Campus Ministry, St. Cloud, MN: Presentation and workshop focusing on the findings of the Lutheran Campus Ministry Study.
October 25: Book Release! – A comprehensive and practical guide to applying the findings from The Confirmation Project is finally being released, and you can pre-order now. The book is titled: Cultivating Teen Faith.
November 5-9: LOM Conference – T Bar M Camp and Retreat Center, TX: I will be speaking and presenting on the newest findings from camp research, including a deep interpretation of findings from the Effective Camp Project.
December 3-6: CCCA National Conference – Palm Springs, CA: I will be sharing findings from the Power of Camp Study, which was based off of the Effective Camp Project and focused on nine camps affiliated with CCCA.
I hope to see many of you at these or other events in the coming months! May God continue to bless our ministries as we adapt to changing seasons.