Well, I arrived at the Headquarters of New Tribes Missions just outside of Orlando, Florida about 12:30 am this morning. I’m here for a conference they do every 3 years for their missionaries. Got a few hours of sleep before my phone ringing. I was sleeping very well. It was Britt, the guy with all the “details” for me. Needed to connect with him, but could’ve used some more sleep. Oh the beauty of having very short trips to the east coast.
But then, I walked outside my room to this view. Someone’s gotta do it! I taught three seminars this morning to missionaries from all around the world – had lunch with a group too. What a blessing. Very sharp people. Three more seminars tomorrow, but for the time being I’m gonna enjoy some solitude in my room – then a long walk along the water. If it wasn’t for the humidity it would be perfect…
Over the last few months I’ve been getting some feedback on my book coming out, College Ministry 101. I’ve been humbled by those that have endorsed it – and yet a little confused by some others. Not to say I’ve gotten a lot of “negative” feedback. Let me explain.
As I was brushing my teeth this morning (I know, kind of weird) this popped in my mind: people are referring to my book as a “discipleship model” for churches to minister to college-age people. Honestly, I think that’s kind of weird. I guess my question is: what other type of model would we want?
I don’t mean to be rash here – maybe a little sarcastic though – but I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t say, “Go therefore and make programs that attract as many people from your city as possible…”
Ok, I know some might react to that negatively – wrongly assuming that I’m speaking negatively about large gatherings, or efforts put into programming. I’m not saying that in any way. I’m just talking about the reference to my book. On one hand I’m glad people are referring to it as a “discipleship model” because that’s what we need in the church right now (people who understand the heart and mind issues college-age people are facing so that we can walk them toward biblically mature conclusions).
College ministry needs this focus. For the record, I hope every book dealing with college ministry has this label on it.
Juices are flowing on this one and I think it’s kind of fun. If you haven’t read the posts yet I’d encourage you to do so. My desire for this series is simply to get thought going, for us to be able to have answers for the way we do things, and to take a look (hopefully a fresh one) at how we’ve been going about these environments. I also want to challenge the idea that we simply continue doing what we’re doing just because that’s always the way we’ve done it.
My desire is not to bash these environments in any way – although I smile a bit when people think that’s what I’m doing. Believe it or not I do think these environments are needed today and this post will in fact show that (hopefully).
That said, let me throw out this thought on these environments…
Mission or Education?
The question I have is in regard to the role these college’s see themselves having. Or, even more pointedly, what do parents and/or others view them having? What is the perception people have?
I’m a bit concerned that they have simply become an accredited “safe Christian environment” where people can be instructed in a particular field/major. We provide an environment and in some ways a sub-culture. Every college campus is a sort of sub-culture in itself, so some of this is inevitable!
But, personally I’d like to see more of a focus on mission. I’d love our Christian colleges to focus more on equipping missionaries in a particular sociological field! This is some of the mindset out there, but I don’t think the majority. The professors ought to be the top of the line in their field, ought to have lived out their faith in the particular field they are teaching, and be equipping their students to view that field as a mission. They should not only know the industry, but also the people in that industry. They ought to be educating our students with the knowledge necessary to excel in that field, but also modeling a missionary lifestyle in that particular area.
I’d love to see our college’s deconstructing the Christian college sub-culture (or bubble) as much as possible, helping our students to know what it’s like to live in the culture of our day and what it means to view themselves as missionaries in a particular field. Instead I’m fearful that we are graduating too many people that are comfortable in the environment we’ve provided, but don’t know how to function as a missionary in the area/field they’ve focused on.
By the way, I also think the church has the same problem in many ways. We all need to focus on mission more.
This pig was shot because the farmer found it eating a dead cow. And it seems as though this isn’t a hoax or the work of a photo shop wizard.
Ok, I know many “blog readers” never really look at the comments on blogs. But, I would say that there is some good discussion going on in this series on “Christian college environments” and I’d recommend reading through some of them. On part three, I think, there is some good discussion just starting to brew…
Well, it’s fun to see the comments being made and interaction on this blog series. This post will discuss some of my thoughts and questions regarding chapel on Christian College Campuses.
I guess the first step is seeking to gain insight into the purpose of these times. Some schools don’t have them, while others have them up to 3 times a week. In addition to the ongoing chapels most also have spiritual emphasis weeks. Most schools make chapels mandatory. So my first question is why make them mandatory? I think if we’re really honest, we’ll recognize it’s because otherwise far fewer students would attend.
What might this tell us? Does that really make sense?
We’d probably all agree that our goal is not to force proper behavior, but instead cultivate a heart for Jesus and to live an authentic mature life of faith. So, is forcing attendance really accomplishing what we think it is?
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for chapel gatherings, but I do think every campus minister (chapel coordinator) ought to be able to:
- Define the purpose of these times
- Support their reasoning for making it mandatory – if they do – beyond proper behavior by attending. If the reasoning is because otherwise only a few people would come, then we must support how we think forcing proper behavior is going to benefit the spiritual health of the students.
- Explain how/why these times are needed in addition to being involved in a local church body – which most Christian colleges (at least on paper) require students to be involved in.
We need to be able to justify how we think so many different messages is beneficial. And we have to be able to have some type of strategy for helping every student embrace these messages in their life. We’d all agree that it doesn’t do any good to just hear a message and do nothing with it, right? We’d also likely agree that we not only have to teach believers, but also our role as shepherds is helping them live it out. In addition, I’m assuming we’d agree that this requires more than every-now-and-then events or retreats of service. It’s about life, every day life and in every day circumstances.
Hypothetical Illustration – with a question
Let’s assume we’re working together on a Christian college campus and we’re running mandatory chapels twice a week. We allow a certain amount of absences, but it’s clearly forced (there’s no better word). In fact students are disciplined in some fashion if too many chapels are missed. Most students look at a schedule to see who’s speaking to determine which chapels they’ll be skipping, making sure they attend a few specific chapels. The remainder of chapels are filled with professors or administrators speaking, of which some are clearly better than others. In addition to these mandatory chapels twice a week, we also expect (whether formally or not) students to go to church and expect them to serve in some capacity (whether they do or not is another story).
I guess my question is: what is this teaching/saying about Christianity?