Notorious instigator Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal this Book” (1971) ingeniously captured the dissident spirit of the Yippie counter-culture. It was, in contemporary parlance, very relevant. In the new millennium, to not write a book is now the most relevant way to spread ideas, and author Benson Hines’ e-book “Reaching the campus tribes: an opening inquiry” is one forward-thinking example aimed at the Christian ministry subculture. So, stop reading this blog book-review and go download the genuine article (e-book) for free at www.reachingthecampustribes.com.
OK, done? Notice the fine photography, interesting layout, and relative brevity of the book (the full 70 megabyte version looks best)? I learned nearly as much from the photo captions as I did from the text. The medium is the message, right? Well, this book has several messages.
- Christian ministry to college students needs attention
…egregiously neglected in the recent history of the protestant church
…understaffed, underfunded, and poorly thought out
…critically important to the core mission of the church
- Reaching college students is missions (hence “tribes”)
…a cross-cultural experience for non-college student ministers
…requires missions-like strategies, including contextualization
So, the book is an essay, arguing two points. First, it implores churches and ministers to prioritize ministry to college students. Second, it draws an analogy between overseas missions and ministry to colleges and universities. Furthermore, the book’s tagline is “an opening inquiry” so you should not expect it to provide many answers. Rather, it is only the beginning of the dialogue (also very relevant in contemporary ministry lingo). Hines writes: “this short book is more proclamation than primer, more megaphone than microscope…(p 8).” Hines does not spell out a clear strategy for how to successfully launch or invigorate a campus ministry. Finally, the book is born out of a pilgrimage of sorts. Benson traveled for a year visiting 181 campuses and talking to about 300 campus ministries. As such, it is very autobiographical, in the sense that it emphasizes the first person voice, and also the impressions and views of the author.
In the spirit of “Reaching the campus tribes” I will likewise unashamedly offer my opinions on this topic during this review. I will also accept Benson Hines’ invitation to the “open inquiry,” and will ask a lot of questions. All this will have to wait for part two of this book review. For now, go download this book if you haven’t already. Read it, and come back prepared to hear both praise and criticism in part two of the review. As always, feel free to comment, and add your voice to the inquiry.
 Marshall McLuhan