From Viral to Virtual

As COVID 19 has come to the U.S. and taken over, InterVarsity has essentially went virtual with all our people to people interaction.  Staff teams aren’t gathering for meetings.  Supervisors aren’t traveling to campuses.  Students and Faculty aren’t in the same room with each other much less at prayer or bible study gatherings.  Yet, COVID 19 hasn’t stopped community from happening in InterVarsity.  It hasn’t stopped disciple-making conversations, bible studies, prayer gatherings or even large group meetings!  The viral has forced the virtual.

I’d like you to do two things with this blog.  Both can happen at the link I’ve posted at the very bottom.  First, click through till you get to this page:

james choung covid response

Give James Choung a listen describing some of the changes we’re experiencing.  Scroll down, click a few links and check out what online ministry is looking like these days.  You might find something helpful for your ministry context.  On this painful shared journey of corona shutting things down, life IS still opening up for people willing to carve out some new patterns.  Are you one of those people re-inventing a new normal?  InterVarsity staff, students and faculty are.  Pray for us and join us as we beat this bug back into the corner and press forward into the kingdom of Jesus!  When pathogens go viral, we go virtual!

Assignment #2

Come on out to Large Group tomorrow night 7:00pm Central time!  YES, you heard right – this is your invitation to not just read about it.  You can experience it as well.  Scroll down to were you see InterVarsity Live.

intervarsity live

You’ll need to hit the register button on the web-page and give them an email address.  In turn you’ll be sent a link.  That’s your admission to the online large-group meeting tomorrow night.  Hope you can make it!  Here’s the link that will take you to the page.  You’ll land first on a page inviting you to bless InterVarsity with a special gift to help cope with the effects of the pandemic.  Feel free to click on through that to the web page:

Ministering Digitally Through COVID 19

Thanks for checking it out!  Maybe I’ll see you at Large Group!

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Two Questions

In addition to the article I’d like you to read in the post below (already aged a half-life since it was written) I’d like you think about two questions.  These two questions were given to me at my Regional Leadership Team meeting yesterday by a very wise colleague.  They are two of the most timely questions for helpful dialogue with just about anyone you encounter.  To get a grip on the first question, please watch this short video from an administrator at a university in my GFM Area.  Click here to watch.

andrew mortin wash u

Q1 – What losses am I experiencing?

What’s happening at Washington University is just one example of what is happening everywhere else where graduation commencements would have been taking place this spring.  The Class of 2020 is about to get ripped off!  As Chancellor Andrew Martin expresses so meticulously, the lack of closure and celebration students will experience this spring is far from trivial.  No matter how much effort it will take for high-school students, college students, graduate and professional students to technically cross their academic finish line, corona is robbing us all of that delicious sweetness with which ceremony decorates accomplishment.

What’s the loss?  Closeness at the finish-line with others who’ve journeyed with you.  That last day of serious, on-sight school work and the crunch of classroom doors shutting behind you for the last time.  The sound that last paper makes landing on the teacher’s desk in a stack with the rest.  That last ounce of passion from your favorite teacher who is also being shorted the joy of seeing you finish.  Family!  Family coming on to your turf, sitting through your ceremony, taking pictures of you crossing the stage, embarrassing you with their uncouth hollering.  Receptions and parties happening all over town in the latter half of May.  That’s the loss.  You’ll still get your degree or your diploma.  Your tassel.  Your honors chord.  But will anyone get to see those robes?  My son Silas was given everything in his high school graduation kit… EXCEPT the robe.  “They’ll pick those up at school a day or two before graduation.”  Really?

As you fight your way through whatever else corona hands you, ask yourself the loss question.  What am I losing?  How can I minimize the loss?  How can I best grieve the loss I can’t avoid?  How can I help someone else with their loss?  Who can I turn to share some of the grief of mine?

Q2 – What am I afraid of?

Check-in question number two is a little harder to ask.  A little harder to answer.  Just as important to ventilate.  What are you afraid of?  As we name our fears we expose uncomfortable things lurking inside us.  We have to face things we’re weak at or insecure about.  We run the risk of awful-izing and exaggerating our fears.  But without dialogue, our fears can drive us where we don’t want to go.  Our fears can keep us isolated and suspicious when we should be open and cooperative.

Just today I had a chance to try out these two questions.  I had an appointment with a possible supporter that had to be cancelled because of the social distancing guidelines our community is trying to follow.  We had the appointment via Zoom call (video).  I asked my friend these two questions right at the top of the conversation.  It was a simple step of conversational wisdom that helped our interaction flow.

I encourage you to do the same.  Or find another discussion question or two that works for you.  Meditate on this:  “What question could I start a conversation with that would help me listen, build trust and scale back anxiety?  Let me know how your conversations are going.

Meanwhile, please be in prayer for students and teachers as they try to finish this impossible semester.  Pray for administrators and decision makers.   Pray for parents and families whose homes have suddenly turned into school rooms!  And pray especially for every member of The Class of 2020 you know.

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Feel free to text or email me your thoughts:

Tim Perry    402.709.7911

An article I’d like you to read this week.

These are incredible days of challenge aren’t they?  Last week was the first work-week that my job started significantly changing in response to COVID 19.  Was that true for you?  Last week was different than the week before.  News reports started having more bite, hitting closer to home with bigger implications.  “I don’t think we’re going to be able to finish this year of ministry on the trajectory we planned.”  By the end of the week things started looking different in my community too.  This morning we went to church and worshiped with about 45 other people (yes, we don’t attend a mega church, but no, the crowd is usually a little bigger than that).  We drove past empty churches on the way to our church.  It felt very strange!  “Was this morning the last time we’ll be at our church for a while?”

In the next few PBR posts I’m going to bring you an article that’s been circulating among my colleagues in Graduate Faculty Ministries entitled: Love in the Time of Coronavirus.  It’s lengthy.  I’ll talk about just one part of the article each time I post.  I’ll include the link to the article each time.  I’d like you to read it first because it’s helpful and well written!  But also because it’s a great reflection on where I feel our leadership needs to head in campus ministry.  Let it be a guide to your prayers for InterVarsity as well as a practical guide in your context.  Let me know what you think!

Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic – Crouch’s 4 questions:

  1. What is happening? An overview of the most important things for Christian leaders, anywhere in the United States, to know about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.
  2. What should we communicate? A list of the most helpful messages others can hear from us — and the most harmful messages as well.
  3. What decisions should we make? Recommendations for decisions about large gatherings, medium-size gatherings for Christian worship, and small groups meeting in households.
  4. What can we hope for? A few reflections on the genuine possibility that our decisions in the next few weeks could reshape the practice of Christian faith in our nation…

Formerly an editor at Christianity Today, formerly an InterVarsity staff member, and author of numerous books on Christianity and Culture, you’ll find Crouch incisive and practical if you’re not already a fan!  You can read a little about Andy Crouch here at the Praxis website.

“Praxis is a creative engine for redemptive entrepreneurship, supporting founders, funders, and innovators motivated by their faith to renew culture and love their neighbors.  Our community of practice operates through high-touch programs, robust content, and a global portfolio of redemptive business & nonprofit ventures.”

Love in the Time of Coronavirus, has helped me cut through a lot of unhelpful noise.  I’ve needed a place to land in terms of my attitude toward this crisis.  Andy’s challenge is helping me move forward into the real decisions facing my leadership.

A leader’s responsibility, as circumstances around us change, is to speak, live, and make decisions in such a way that the horizons of possibility move towards shalom, flourishing for everyone in our sphere of influence, especially the vulnerable.

I’m asking a lot of questions this week I wasn’t asking last week.  What is the pandemic going to do to my ministry this week?  How do I get in front of decisions with a better grip on what I’m doing?  Please pray for me.  Here are a few things needing fresh leadership:

  1. Major fund-raising needs I’m responding to this spring.  I began 2020 firmly committed to working on my budget.  How am going to accomplish my goals?
  2. Several appointments this week with potential ministry partners and possible financial supporters.  What do I do differently?
  3. A trip I have been planning for weeks to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio!  Do I cancel the trip when it’s taken me over a month to set everything up?
  4. I supervise 6 other staff in my territory.  What needs to be different in my leadership starting this week?
  5. All of our groups on campus have been shut down.  What does that mean for how we try to connect with students?  Are my staff prepared to sustain ministry to students and faculty without face to face contact?

I’ll keep you posted on what I’m learning and how I’m leading.  Let me know what you think of Andy’s article!

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Is COVID 19 affecting your ministry?


Thought I would get a quick word out about how things in my GFM world are being impacted by the Corona Virus.  I’m grateful for how the semester has been moving along.  I had originally planned a less travel-intensive Feb-Mar-April in order to get after some much needed fundraising.  Last year at this time I was traveling to every Central Area campus (NE, KS, IA, MO).  This spring I have only two trips planned.  I also have a fundraising trip on my calendar for later this month.   It will most likely stay in the  schedule unless something drastic changes with the people I plan to visit in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

What is InterVarsity telling you at this point?

National leaders are keeping watch on the spread of Corona and encouraging staff across the U.S. to stay informed via news – especially regular briefings from the Center For Disease Control and also those from the World Health Organization.  They are encouraging wise decision making about conferences and events and staying in close communication with hosting facilities.  InterVarsity is not recommending any particular travel policy or restrictions at this point.  If staff need to change plans concerning non-essential travel based on local/regional circumstances, they are encouraged to do so with the approval of their supervisor.

What about overseas travel?

“Regarding InterVarsity’s international programs, our Overseas Crisis Management Team monitors and assesses risk every summer. We have redirected two East Asia GPs and one Study Abroad student trip to other countries; otherwise, most other programs are moving forward as planned.”

A few things worth saying (comments about our posture)

  • We are calm, while continuing to realistically assess risk.
  • At the same time, we are sensitive to others who may be suffering from increased anxiety. We are sensitive to how this is playing out in different contexts – from emptied grocery stores and supply shortages in parts of California to fully stocked shelves and relative calm in parts of the Midwest. Let’s lean into compassion for the various contexts that InterVarsity touches.
  • We are more concerned for others who are sick with this (and other illnesses) rather than overly concerned about our own well-being. There is a powerful history of Christians caring for sick neighbors during outbreaks far worse than this.
  • This situation has people thinking about their own mortality and fears. The shell keeping people from deep conversations is a bit thinner. Our ministry continues, and our desire continues to be that people experience the real hope of Christ at a time when there is so much hopelessness.

Am I worried about Covid 19?  I am concerned.  Anyone who does a people intensive ministry with lots of travel should be vigilant.  In the non-ministry world of my family, I’m looking forward to my grand-daughter’s second birthday next month, my oldest son’s defense of his dissertation two days after Poppy’s birthday, and my youngest son’s graduation from Central High School in May.  I’m making sure Corona knows it’s not welcome at any of our birthday parties, graduation celebrations or Easter!

poppy windtunnel helper

Poppy helping daddy clear out his lab.  Experiments done.  Finish the writing.

I like the point our national leaders make reminding us that Christians have historically served well in circumstances like this.  The way of Jesus is a way of self-sacrifice for others more needy.  May Christ-following believers all over the globe continue to do so as we pray and take action to protect human flourishing.  Thanks for your prayers.  Thanks for your financial partnership!

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PBR = Perry Boiler Room

Pretty simple post here announcing a new banner for the blog.  There are lots of things PBR probably can stand for.  From now on at the blog, it’s shorthand for Perry Boiler Room.


In case some of you are new to the blog and just don’t get it, here’s how it got its name.  The Boiler Room is basically the command control center of the Perry household.  My office and library are down here in the basement.  It’s where I light my candle, have quiet times, pray, fast and fill journals.  Its where all hot water and radiator heat is stoked.  It’s also where 100 minutes of free weights and Nordic Track happen three times a week.  Where brainstorms spawn and roam free on my 12 foot long white-board.  And… where Aspen edits all my work!

old vrs new banner pbr

Enjoy the new look!

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