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.

Oh, WOW!

 —  June 1, 2009 — 1 Comment

picture-3This 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.

Comment Section

 —  May 27, 2009 — Leave a comment

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:

  1. Define the purpose of these times
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

Kris Allen leading a church in worship, singing “God of this City.”

Back on this again for part two. It’s no doubt that the mission of Christian colleges has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. And frankly, I’m fairly certain we’re not heading in the right direction with them.

I’m concerned that Christian colleges feel the need to provide yet another separate community apart from local churches. They have “spiritual life” directors and programs, campus pastors…you name it. Let’s think about this for a minute. Is that really the best thing? Is it really best to provide everything on a campus rather than putting that time and energy into connecting students into the life and body of a local church?

Why not connect them with a pastor in a local church? In my experience there can even be animosity in these situations. I have personally faced harsh opposition by seeking to be involved on some Christian college campuses. These campus pastors or spiritual life directors are very clear what their role is and what mine is. And I can tell you from their perspective mine is not on their campus. They have it under control. On these campuses, I simply leave that campus pastor to do their “job” – but frankly I leave with a broken heart, knowing full well that those students are being robbed of the beauty of being involved in a local church.

Let’s say we suggest it’s appropriate to have all a church ought to be doing in the life of an individual on a Christian college campus. What happens when the student graduates? They’ve likely been disconnected from a local church for 4-6 years. They don’t know where they fit, have little of any relationships with others in the church, and will likely not go back to the one they grew up in – that would be going backwards in their mind. How does this make sense?

I’m getting more concerned about the role Christian colleges are playing in the lives of people. I certainly don’t think it’s ill motive or a bad heart, but I do think Christian Colleges are inherently saying through their actions that the church is not important.

Oh man, I’m gonna get into trouble with this series. I’m just beginning too…

College Life Review

 —  May 19, 2009 — 1 Comment

college-life-pic1Last night we saw a few different things in the life of a college student. For this review, I’ll break it up by topic versus by person.

Late Adolescence: If you’ve been watching the show, there is no doubt that you are seeing the inconsistency of each person. This inconsistency is why I would say this is a late adolescent stage of life.

Relational Boundaries: I’ve mentioned this many times before, but again, if you’ve been watching you can CLEARLY see that there is a lack of understanding in relational boundaries! This may surprise you to some degree, but the longer you’re in college ministry the more you’ll see this every day.

Exploration: There is also no doubt that you can see the desire to explore different things during this stage of life. New experiences – whether or not they contradict previous convictions or assumptions – is a key part of the college age stage of life. You see this in Jordan’s partying and experimental dating process. You see this in Andrea (church kid) who enrolls herself in a lingerie fashion show – which by the way, was a sketchy scene. She was very excited about the experience until her friend Erica confronted her on her behavior. You also see this exploration in Josh’s life where he wants to explore a new relationship with Lindsay and now is rethinking his with Andrea. All this exploration helps them discover what it is they really want, desire. Ultimately this is what brings them to a healthy sense of identity. Most struggle with allowing college age people to explore, but I would say it’s necessary. Not fun or comfortable, but necessary.

New Found Freedoms: The freedom had in college life is unlike anything they’ve experienced. Some of this is fun, as we saw last night in the massive snow ball fight at the dorms. Besides the cops being bombarded by snow balls as well, this is the type of thing we want college students to experience.

Pressures: Lindsay was having a hard time from being pressured by her family/parents. We have seen this pressure multiple times in the show. This is something we as leaders must remember. Teaching through topics of handling and dealing with the pressures of their parents/family/others is a great teaching opportunity for you and your ministry. Teach through Ephesians 6 and walk them through the boundaries they have in this context with their parents. Trust me, this will intrigue them!

Next week I’d recommend watching for sure. It’s spring break (so you may want to record it so that you can fwd through some scenes), and I think we’ll see a culmination of a lot of things we’ve been talking about in this series.