Faculty Ministry Models

So part two of my beastly weekend event was a Faculty Gathering. Why not connect the Carver Conversation with a morning together with faculty talking about mission and ministry? Across my four-state area, faculty are engaging their colleagues and departments in a variety of formats. Some models are aimed at spiritual formation others at missional engagement (see the list below). Our conversation was very simple – have a staff or faculty member with first-hand experience talk about it. Offer these narratives then to faculty members who might catch a vision for something new in their context. Let faculty chew on it around their tables.

I was really encouraged with my team! We COULD have simply met in St. Louis, feasted on the Carver Conversation and transitioned into our team retreat. A great weekend would have been had by all. But we wanted to create an opportunity for story telling and vision casting with faculty members. We wished we had more faculty members in the room – mid-April was not an ideal time of the year for most faculty members.

Ministry Models we talked about:

  • Faculty sponsored Student Reading Groups on integration themes related to academic discipline.  John Inazu, Wash-U Law.  Monthly gatherings in a faculty member’s home reading a book or article that connects faith with academic discipline.  The Carver Fellows host a variety of groups in Law, Arts, Humanities, Medicine.  See the TCP website at this link:  https://www.carverstl.org/reading-groups
  • Faculty and Students weekly prayer on campus. The  Iowa State University Christian Faculty and Staff Fellowship is led by GFM staff members Tom Ingebritsen (Professor Emeritus, Biology) and Chad Britten.  Connect with chad.britten@intervarsity.org                                                 
  • What Matters to Me and Why lectureship series.  Innovated at UC Irvine years ago, GFM staff member Mark Hansard, has grown this ministry model at Kansas State University.  Not a Christian lecture series.  Co-sponsored with the university WMMW has a leadership team that a GFM staff member is a part of. Monthly lectures selected by the leadership team include Christian and non-Christian presenters from the faculty body at K-State. See mark.hansard@intervarsity.org 
  • Veritas Forum, a Christian lectureship series of speakers (generally teaching and researching PhDs from around the country).  Recent two day series was done at Iowa State University with Wash-U professor Joshua Swamidass.  Topics included Artificial Intelligence and Human Origins.  See https://www.veritas.org/ as well as Veritas channel on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/VeritasForum  See also Joshua Swamidass at his website: https://peacefulscience.org/                                                                                                                                
  • Faculty Bible Study with emphasis on Spiritual Formation and Rule of Life application.  Team approach to manuscript bible study with faculty groups.  The further enrichment of formation and application is a helpful balance to what can be a strict focus on biblical and theological content.  Reach out to george.stulac@intervarstiy.org and benw@wustl.edu   See Ben also for his work with Post-Docs on Communal Spiritual formation and rhythms.
  • Faculty Prayer Fellowships can be very simple and spur a thriving network of faculty praying with each other and for their departments.  See InterVarsity’s 3X3 Missional Prayer strategy brochure for engaging Christian faculty members.  Reach out to tim.perry@intervarsity.org                                                                 
  • Syntrek – This spiritual friendship model is being developed with professional students (PT/OT/Pharmacy) at Creighton University.  Students are paired up after connecting with GFM during New Student Outreach.  Students meet on their own weekly to explore Spiritual Friendship.  A resource and story blog is under construction at https://syntrek.blog/  Monthly, whole-group brunch allows Syntrek pairs to gather and connect with GFM staff and a different guest Faculty Mentor each time.  Reach out to tim.perry@intervarsity.org

If you know of Christian faculty members either teaching or transitioning to one of our schools, PLEASE email me and help me connect with them. Our work is especially strategic at R-1 institutes in my four-state area – University of Nebraska, Lincoln, University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Mizzou, Wash-U, University of Iowa and Iowa State.

Post-script on the sternum. I did get a follow-up with my primary care physician. We’re doing well. LOTS of pain, still. Prayers for pain management and sleep. Best night’s sleep so far – LAST NIGHT. Slept from 11pm to 6am. Thanks so much for your prayers!


3-Headed Monster!

So, what was I doing in St. Louis when I lost my ’04 Accord and broke my sternum? Fighting a 3-headed monster, of course! For some weeks my team and I had been concocting a three-phase weekend event for the purposes of collaborating with The Carver Project, hosting a GFM Faculty Gathering and enjoying a 24 hour staff team retreat! I’ll take these in opposite order in the next couple of blog posts. The overall monstrosity involved teaming up with the undergrad Central Region to invite all the Christian faculty members connected to our ministries to St. Louis for The Spring Carver Conversation.

Tim, George, Mark, Josh, Ben, Chad, Kevin, Jake, George, Linda (missing Tom and Sarah).

If you’re going to get your whole team together, over half of which travel from 2 – 7 hours away, it would be great to make it worth while! If we’re going to tackle a challenge, better make it a beast! Thus, the triple whammy of a community event, a faculty gathering and a staff retreat! We enjoyed staying in historic Soulard in St. Louis in the 9th Street Abbey Rectory (now an Air B&B). After hosting our Faculty Gathering on Saturday morning, we settled into a full 24 hours of personal and team retreating around the theme of Wisdom. My staff were initially wary of a retreat on the heals of two other events! But we had a very enriching time (on top of some wonderful time with faculty).

Retreat began after lunch on Saturday. Everyone was given about 4 hours in personal, guided retreat time off on their own. My barometer for how that time went came when we gathered at the Rectory and Kevin led us in a reflection on our time in Proverbs chapter 8. “Tim, this was a total bomb, if no one talks.” “Tim, what do you do if your entire team says this was a bad use of time and resources?” “Tim, what else could you see yourself doing vocationally if this goes badly and gets back to your supervisor?”

You know, I’m not sure I actually had any of those thoughts. My retreat time was actually an extended nap nursing my cracked sternum. I’d spent soooo much time in Proverbs 8 all Spring. I knew there was a trove of rich ministry and formational insight packed in that famous chapter. Would the staff find it? Found it, they certainly did (think Yoda accent)! The conversation was wonderfully engaging. I intentionally listened for every staff voice on my team. The sharing was a chorus of stimulating insight from every last person. I have a truly earnest team of individuals who are passionate about knowing God and full of discernment between mere knowledge and experiential wisdom.

If you need a new theological theme in your devotional world, I’d recommend the book of Proverbs. Start by reading chapter 8 and introducing yourself to Sophia – the personification of wisdom. Once you’ve traced that great theme (read a chapter of Proverbs each day for a month – 31 chapters) then look at what Paul says about wisdom in the opening chapters of 1 Corinthians.

So that was ONE of our monster’s heads! We’ll lop off the other two in future posts – there’s just too much to take in here. Thank you so much for your prayers for my ongoing recovery. I’m making good progress, but admittedly living life, 6 hour Tylenol dosages at a time. It’s coming up on 8pm as I compose this. My last blast was 3pm and I’m starting to feel it!

Have a terrific week!


Parting w. a trusted friend!

As I write you this Friday afternoon, I have sad news for you. In past posts, you’ve heard me rant about my 2004 Honda Accord. Staff members who travel a lot forge a bond with their favorite vehicles. I’ve put about a billion highway miles on a wide variety of cars in my 24 years of ministry with IV. A few of my OG’s over the years?

  • 84 Ford Tempo ( driven 11 years, died of old age)
  • 91 Chevy Lumina (driven 11 years, retired at Cedar Campus)
  • 97 Honda Accord (driven 4 years, Bambi the suicide Honda-Bomber)
  • 04 Honda Accord (driven 11 years, collision on I-70)

Make what you will of the 11 year life-span trend! Two weeks ago yesterday I was traveling to St. Louis and caused a serious rear-end collision on I-70 just outside the city. Another great ride has come to an end! The weekend event I headed there to lead is what my next couple of posts will be about. I just thought it was a moment I should hover over and thank the Lord for. Thankful for thousands of safe highway miles over the many years of interstate travel my job has involved. Thankful for good cars. Thankful for safe cars even in collisions!

I would love it if you’d pray for that little cracked spot you can see in my chest in the image above – my cat Aspen knows right where it’s at! I broke my sternum! Broken sternums really hurt! I’m so grateful for Cheryl’s family who came to my aid in St. Louis. The accident happened at about 5;15pm. My nephew Will was able to come help me empty out my Accord and take me to the urgent care. Urgent care sent me on to a trauma center at St. Louis U Hospital. Thankful for lots of attentive doctors and medical staff who checked me over.

Please pray for my recovery. I’m back home getting things done. Still “no rust and running great” just a little slower and no bike-rides for a while. Tying to keep my 24 hour total dosage of Acetaminophen to 4,000 mg or less. Pray for my sleep. Pray for my humiliation and learning – that I would be safer more attentive driver in the future.

I’ll be in touch with you soon on recent ministry happenings. It’s been a very full month of April! There’s lots to catch you up on. Have a terrific weekend!