Jen U

Last week I realized two things.

I spent three days in another gathering of great Christian leaders discussing church and cultural trends and theology. And I was reminded for the 389th time that because I’ve not gone to seminary or studied some of the thinkers and topics covered there, I have less to contribute to these discussions.

During this meeting we also had the opportunity to share something good happening in our ministries. From church merges or learning Spanish to preach in two languages (whoa) to community gardens feeding the homeless, these guys had great stories to share about making a difference. And I realized I once again had little to contribute because I spend my days crossing off copywriting and social media to-do lists that make groups like theirs successful.

“Helping organizations doing good to do better” is my Twitter bio and it’s grown into a fun career. But it means I have nothing that’s “mine”—nothing I lead, nothing I’ve launched. At the same time, I feel unequipped to strike out as a leader without more grounding in history, philosophy and strategy.

So I need a project and I need to learn—how did I not think of Jen University before now?

This new school will include books, blogs, podcasts and magazines. It will not include homework, papers, internships, sororities, or courses involving terms like “cosine” or “lipid.”

To paraphrase Good Will Hunting, you can get a great education for $1.50 in library fines (although I may use this as an excuse to buy a Kindle). I’m compiling a master list of stuff to read and I welcome your suggestions for the best resources in biblical studies, ministry trends, spiritual formation, leadership, theology and doctrine. (I’d even like to see the syllabi from your own graduate programs—email jen@seejenwrite.com.)

It’s time to think about what I want to accomplish before my status changes from “emerging leader” to “over 40, kind of emerged, and not that effective.” Tomorrow I turn 35 (good grief) and Jen U officially begins—Kindle donations welcome.

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