I'm headed to Minnesota this weekend to go back to my undergraduate alma mater, Crossroads College. I've been invited to be one of the speakers for their Homecoming events. I graduated in the class of '94 and started there (at what was then named Minnesota Bible College) as a freshman in the fall of 1990, seventeen years ago. Which means that the current freshman class were just toddlers when I was starting college. That's a little freaky. Of course, another alum on the program graduated in the class of '49. So she was in college two dozen years before I was born.
It's been a while since I've been back, and I'm looking forward to seeing old friends. Being in Illinois, I'm a little out of the loop in keeping up with news of what's going on in Minnesota, since I don't get back there much anymore. A lot of my former professors have retired or moved on, but I hope to see at least a few familiar faces. I owe a lot of my faith and spiritual journey to Crossroads alumni, from a youth pastor who took me under his wing and showed me what it meant to be a Christian, to the pastor who baptized me and later officiated at my wedding. Not to mention all the faculty and classmates that helped me grapple with theological questions and personal crises in late night talks at two or three in the morning.
Many of my old classmates are now pastors or in some other form of church ministry. And that's an alternate life for me, the road not taken. I was a pastoral leadership major (along with a major in biblical studies & theology) and I appreciated the program very much. I was geeky enough to really enjoy second-year Greek and exegetical method (though Hebrew, not so much). But somewhere along the way I got a feeling that I could do church work if God really called me to it, but I didn't know that that was really what I was called to do. My original interest from high school was journalism and writing, and then I went through the common Christian college student phase of thinking that to really serve God I needed to be a pastor or missionary. It wasn't until the end of the college years that my eyes were opened to other possibilities, whether marketplace, parachurch or whatnot. So I was glad to be able to integrate my biblical/theological interests with my writing/publishing interests and get into Christian publishing.
So anyway, I'm deeply grateful for my undergrad education, especially how it trained me to think biblically, theologically and pastorally. I learned the importance of building a solid library (I graduated with over 200 IVP books on my shelves). And it's certainly shaped how I go about my own writing and editing. I'll occasionally get a thank-you note (especially for my Grieving a Suicide book) that mentions that they appreciate my perspective being "pastoral." Well, I think some of that comes from what I learned from my college days as a pastoral ministry major. And I'm glad that my current vocation allows me to help provide resources for students in the academy as well as ministry professionals in the church. It's my small way of giving back to all those who invested in me all those years ago.