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.

I was at a Christian high school this morning. Cool kids. We had some good discussion – I was both impressed with some of their thinking and yet disheartened by the amount of confusion in others.

You could say I’m becoming increasingly concerned about these environments. Whether it be high school or college, I’m finding more and more confusion with those attending these schools. Whether or not it’s the school’s fault I’m not ready to say, but I can say that people in these environments have some of the same confusions and struggles going on.

I’m not saying we should throw them out, nor am I suggesting we should negate them. I’m not saying they are bad. I’m just saying I’m concerned. Thus, I think I will start a series that will go over the next few months that discusses these environments – in particular college environments and how they may or may not relate to the our college ministries.

This series will discuss a ton of questions I’ve been asking in this regard, but today I’ll throw out one question: Why do we have them in the first place? What was the original reason they began?

Christian colleges originated with the conviction of defending the faith. But this is not the case today. So, what is their purpose today…?

picture-2I have a million thoughts running through my mind right now…

I wish I could keep a desk that clean.

What led to this encounter?

Did Bush forget the statue of a cowboy?

Is this is a sign of some sort?

What brand is Obama’s shoes?

Why don’t the boys have jackets?

What’s the picture of in that horrible gold frame?

Odd, but kind of a cool picture.