I went to Reinhardt today. I walked the concrete walkways across the campus, strew with the first dusting of autumn leaves that bounced in the cool autumn breeze that whisked the last gleam of summer warmth. Oh, this campus is so familiar to me: the brick Georgian architecture, the hilly, grassy lawns, the crisp smells of a rural autumn permeating the air of the little town of Waleska. Even with the new student center (built on the site of the one torn down prior to my junior year), the campus remains by and large entirely similar to how it was when I left it two years ago. Nothing has really changed.
And yet, everything has changed. I’ve changed. I realized just how much I no longer fit at the campus that nurtured me for four and a half years. Perhaps it is because I no longer know many students on the campus and am thus an alien in familiar territory (alas, I probably count four or five of the remaining students as friends, and only a couple of those I saw today during my visit), and perhaps it is because I am so much older than the majority of the student population there now. Perhaps it is because so much in my life has passed since my time as a student there. Perhaps it is because the foundation laid at Reinhardt is now being used and fleshed out in my time at Southern.
I saw three of my most beloved professors. I got to share with them the joys of my journey after Reinhardt. I have such different worldviews than they do in many regards, but I respect all three of these women with the utmost sincerity. I realize that, despite our differences, I could discuss issues with these professors on a much more open and honest level than I could with most of the people I encounter at Southern. Only with Dr. Halla and two or three other professors would I encounter this same openness to a natural, intelligent conversation. I would love to one day be a professor in a similar environment, one accommodating to an honest discussion between intelligent people.
Over the last few days, I have had discussions with several of my closest friends. Each time I am reminded of an issue: the churches in Georgia are in a sad state, as are churches across the Unites States as a whole. Sojourn and the other healthy churches I see in Louisville are a cream-of-the-crop representation of what overall is a deplorable state that the American church is in. Whether I like it or not, I need to be a pastor. The Church needs as many solid pastors as it can get right now. I want to see solid pastors come and plant new solid churches and reform those that already exist. This is an emergency we must be praying that God continues his work in. As for me, I may find myself pastoring in three to four years, not because it is the first thing I want to do, but because if I don’t, am I really using the gifts God has given me to adequately serve the critical needs of the church right now?