Campus Ministry

There’s this belief rampant among churches that State Colleges and Universities are the devil’s lair.  We hear statistics that tell us that only one in four Christians graduate still holding on to Christ and we panic!  Now that I am busy wrapping up my third semester of college, I would like to address this issue. (You have to admit, of all the ways to put off studying for finals, this is a good one!) 

First of all, don’t put your faith in statistics.  They’re all skewed. 

Second–and more importantly– trust God.  Our fear of losing faith in college has led us down some paths that I’m afraid are even more damaging than the original problem.

There are three ways I have seen the Christian community attempt to combat what they view as satan’s hold on college students:  Campus Ministries, Christian Universities, and condemning (and not attending) higher education.

Campus Ministries: This is usually in the form of church-suppported groups that lead Bible studies or worship services on a regular basis somewhere on the college campus.  While they have good intentions (and many have good results), I am personally very leery of such organizations.  Their intent is to spread the gospel of Christ, but what usually happens is they are responsible for keeping all the Christian kids in a “click” or club.  They also tend to feed on a victim mindset, giving many young Christians the idea that they are unjustly being persecuted in college.  This does not encourage students, nor will it strengthen their faith.  It’s merely a biased plug that ministry leaders use their platforms to present.  Campus Ministries are also used as witnessing tools, giving Christian kids something to invite their unsaved classmates to.  To me, that is missing the point of witnessing.  No one wants to sit in your small Bible study, nor do they want to attend a worship service with you.  If they don’t believe God exists or if they are struggling in their faith, what makes you think that would do anything other than annoy or frighten them?  Witnessing isn’t about trying to pull people into your world; it’s about you going into theirs.  Jesus helped people right where they were at.  He didn’t invite them to the synagogue!

Christian Universities: This is nothing more than Christian segregation.  Jesus taught that we were to go out into the world, baptizing in the name of the Holy Spirit.  Surrounding yourself with people who believe everything you do is not fulfilling that goal.  It is doing the opposite.  There may be the idea that college is a training grounds before thrusting oneself out in the world, but I do not find that to be biblical.  The apostle Paul shared his testimony with people as soon as the blindness fell from his eyes.   Keeping yourself in a Christian community hinders spiritual growth.  If everyone there believes as you do, where is the challenge?  If I trusted that everything coming from my professors’ mouths was accurate, how would I learn to think for myself?  Also, I fear these institutions help the problem of State Universities being anti-faith.  If most strong Christians are off at the Christian college, who is left to teach and attend the secular ones?  There is no reason for State Universities to feel the pressure of being open to Christianity when they can safely assume that most strong Christians aren’t attending their classes.  Thirdly, I know of Christian colleges that are not-so-Christian.  The only difference between them and State Universities is the name on the door and the tuition fees.  That is the most harmful thing of all.  When your Christian colleges stop acting like Christians, heavy damage is done to the witness of Christ.  I don’t approve of Christian segregation, but if you’re gonna put the name on the door, you have a heavy responsibility to live up to it!

Condemnation:  I do not think going to college is a necessity.  If you  don’t need a degree for the job you desire, then don’t go.  Now, I LOVE college and I support Higher Education, but I’m realistic.  It’s not for everyone and no one should feel they must go.  However, if the only reason you are refusing this great opportunity is because someone has told you it is ungodly to attend…then I have a problem with your absence in our schools.   It’s not that you are denying yourself an education.  You can buy your own books and study everything you please without attending college.  But you are denying your faith the chance to grow.  If you don’t think that your faith can stand up under the pressure of college then what does that say about it?  Personally, you’re giving me the impression that you have a small, frail relationship with God.  I don’t want to see Christians living in fear.  It’s okay to allow yourself to be challenged and I sincerely hope that college does that for you!    

I’ve become really negative in this post, so let me end with what I do believe in, instead of just hitting everyone over the head with my disagreements.  I believe in living your life for Christ.  To me, a college ministry shouldn’t be an organization; instead it is what each individual Christian attending college lives out.  Let me tell you a personal story.  This semester I took a class called  “Archaeology and the Bible.”  Now, I attend a secular University.  The Bible isn’t discussed here in a good way.  I knew going into the class that it would be difficult.  Was it?  Yes.  But I have grown more in my faith than I ever dreamed.  And God was faithful to me.  Hebrews says that when things become too much for us to bear, God will provide a way out for us.  God  didn’t get me out of it, but He led me through it with the help of two teachers.

The first was a music teacher.  It just so happens that this man is a Christian who loves (and has studied) biblical archaeology.  (coincidental, huh?)  My lessons with him were scheduled once a week and just happened to land immediately after my archaeology class.  I got to go right from the stress and confusion of this class to having a fun, relaxing time playing music.  He always asked me how my archaeology class was going and he was very open when I’d ask him questions. 

The other influential person was an English teacher.  One day our class discussed literature and writing.  We talked about how hard it is to trust every word that someone writes as absolute truth.  How is one to know if they’ve embellished at all?  This was similar to what my archaeology class was wondering about the Bible, so I took the liberty of sending this teacher an e-mail after that class, asking him to explain the issue deeper for me.  I also explained my concerns regarding the Bible.  He could have ignored the Bible part, not wanting to touch a controversial subject, but he didn’t.  It turns out that he is a Christian.  Not only was he open about the fact that he personally did trust the Bible, but his witness throughout the semester was a huge relief for me.  He was a good professor who cared about the individuals in his class, not just their grades. 

Those two men have college ministries.  They may not realize it, but they do.  They aren’t at college with a hidden agenda, out to convert everyone.  They are simply using the talents God gave them to make a living and feed their families.  Yet in the process of doing so, they continue to impact people for the sake of Christ.  That is not something only professors should do.  It is something students should do, as well.  Not get together in little clubs.  Get involved where their talents deem is a good spot for them and SHINE.

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losing sight?

Yesterday I was rushing around, a tad stressed, at college.  As I was sitting in my Humanities class, I was brought short, however.  My teacher was discussing the Renaissance and the break-off of Martin Luther from the Catholic church.  I wasn’t paying attention, but was thinking of a test I had later that day.  But as my professor kept talking, this topic kept running through my head.

Has the 21st century Amercian church turned into a comparable model of the corrupt 16th century Catholic one? 

The way my professor described the problems Luther found in his day was that, “the Church had it’s own agenda” instead of preaching of spiritual matters.  When they preached that salvation is through “faith and good works”, the “good works” were, conveniently, giving money to the church.  It was veering away, at that time, from God.  They wanted money for all their building projects and fancy expenses.

Now think of today.  I am SO sick of politics. (a stark contrast of how I felt and blogged at the beginning of the political process!!) I really cannot describe how much I want November 4 to be over!  But how many pastors and religious leaders have told you how to vote?  Or how God thinks of certain issues?  Now, I believe you should exercise your right to vote.  I also think it’s important to stand for what you believe in.  That is not what I am talking about.  I’m speaking of the OBSESSIVENESS that has taken over Christians when you bring up the election.  Don’t tell me that you believe God is ultimately in control; act like you believe He is. 

I do believe that religious leaders need to step back off the politics podium and focus on the calling God brought them to: salvation.  I don’t believe we can afford, in our day and age, to turn people off because of where we stand on politics.  This is not saying “be ashamed” or hide your views.  It’s saying don’t lose focus on the Great Commission.  I’ll bet satan just LOVES election-time. 

There’s also a HUGE focus lately on good works.  Of course, this depends on your denomination.  Some churches have always preached that.  But even protestant faith- based-only churches are hitting heavily now on how you need to be “good people”.  I hope some of that sinks in to their audiences.  We need more good people in this world.  But I’m not seeing those people pour out of churches.  That’s where I’m finding grasping, conniving, agenda-filled, gossipy, judgemental people.  My theory is that they really are TRYING to be “good people” like their pastor’s are pushing for, but are trying so hard it’s back-firing.  Isn’t it easier to judge and gossip about how Joe Blow ISN’T being good than simply being good yourself?

What I wouldn’t give just to hear a pure salvation-message.  Someone speaking WITHOUT the assumption that everyone in the congregation is “saved”.  Maybe then we’d re-prioritize, get back to the basics and let the course of life run as meant.  We could stay out of filthy politics and stop entering relationships with strings attached (I’m your friend so I can “witness” to you, not because I actually like you as a person”).

We’re no longer about having a “relationship with Christ”, but have become a true religion. 

Good luck working and “politicizing” your way to heaven.

Anyway, those are my heavy words for the day.  Please don’t let it make you too upset or depressed.  Underneath it all, you can find beauty in this world. (Just not in the political media . . .)

Blessings to you ALL (even “politicizers” and work-based Christians)  🙂 
~Em

NOTE AS OF MON. OCT. 7: To those of you who have previously read this article, I apologize for an error I had made.  I referred to voting day as Nov. 11, whereas, in fact, it is the 4th.  I have changed it now and apologize for any confusion or offensiveness.  The 11th is Veteran’s Day and there is certainly no reason I want that day over.

Typical, I know.

Gee, I wonder what people will be blogging about today??  Not to be too un-original, but, ya, I’m gonna take the easy road and copy everyone else’s topic:  MOTHER’S DAY.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.  To anyone reading this who is a mother, thank you for all you do. 

I don’t believe my mother reads my blog  🙂   but, in case she decides to today:  I love you, mom.  Have a happy mother’s day.  Kudos for ALL you do! 

Now that I’m 18, there are even more things I’m discovering that moms have done for us.  How does that old country song go?  “The hand that rocks the cradle, moves the world.”  VERY TRUE.  Now that I have my own license, it has hit just how inconvenient it is to chauffeur your kids all around. . . multiply that by the number of kids and it equals a mother without her own life.  I can’t cook.  (I’m gonna have to find a guy who can, sadly.  He’ll starve if he depends on my burnt/undercooked/over-baked/over-mixed stuff that was supposed to be food.)  It makes me love my mother and her willingness to stop what she’s doing an hour before supper to whip something together for us.  It also makes me appreciate her when she DOESN’T do that and tries to teach me to make it myself. 

It was my mother’s image of sitting in the chair with her Bible in her lap that led to my desire to live with a faith like she does.  Now that I’m older, we differ on some issues, including those relating to faith, but I find that most of my rantings and tears of frustration find an encouraging home in her.  She also gives good advice.  Just yesterday, she basically made me start talking to her about my tough decision I talked of yesterday.  She knew it was bothering me.  She asked me questions that made me think and examine my decision at the right angles. 

I love listening to my mother play her guitar and sing.  The simplicity, love and faith in her sweet worship makes you want to cuddle up next to Jesus’ side and hum along.  Nothing showy, just authentic. 

So, what is it that YOU appreciate about your mother?? 

Letter to Obama

Dear Sir:

Your positive campaign has suddenly taken a cruel turn in the wrong direction.  I realize this may not seem fair to you.  Why should you be branded for someone else’s words?  It’s not like you can control what all your acquaintances say!  That has to be one of the most frustrating aspects of running for president!

However, I thought that maybe I could do some explaining.  You’ve only had hundred of people tell you this already.  Many of them more intelligent than I.  People who are experts in politics and analyzing and the like.  Then, of course, you’ve gotten the angry idiots who probably don’t even know why they’re angry trying to “reason” with you.  But I am neither.  So, here is the point-blank truth of why I–no one else, this represents only myself–have issues with both your pastor and your relationship with him.

First of all, let me say for the record that I, too, am a Christian.  Truly.  Not just in name, either.  No, my faith is a vital part of me.  So I can understand pastor relationships and pulpit slip-ups.  I can relate to people taking your faith out of context and condemning you for it.  I understand.

Has my pastor said things I disagree with?  Yes.  He is much more conservative than I and has warned against watching certain movies, listening to certain music and hanging with certain crowds.  I found error with his stance.  This is a very shallow difference of opinion, however.  No two people draw the line in the same place.  If my pastor ever dared to unapologetically claim, “God damn America!”, severe consequences would follow.  First of all, he would be removed as pastor.  If he wasn’t, I would leave and find another church.  There are plenty with good, strong leaders who I respect and trust as my spiritual guides. 

You say he’s a dear friend and like family to you.  This is supposed to make me feel better?  Until now, I was pretty confident that you were going to become the President.  You just seem to be more popular in the polls and have this life and fire so many politicians lack.  It outright scares me that, in days like these, full of terrorist threats and anti-American sentiments across the globe, that my own president–the President of the United States of America–is bosom buddies with a man who heatedly accuses our country of being exactly like the Al Quaida attempting to obliviate us!  A pastor who can’t comprehend the difference between America dropping a bomb to end a war we were justly fighting in at Hiroshima verses Muslim Extremists attacking us during peace time due to anti-American sentiments very similar to what this he preaches.  I honestly believe such a relationship should be severed.  If you truly love this country, stand up for it!  Defend it!  Otherwise . . . why are running for president? 

I know you try to stand for positive things like peace, unity, hope, etc.  But the president can’t live in some fantasy world wearing rose-colored glasses.  You can’t shake Osama bin Laden’s hand, smile and say that all is forgiven.  World peace would be great, but seems to be little more than a fantasy.  The president of the United States has more enemies than friends.  He needs to stand his ground, be blunt and opinionated.  He can’t just give eloquent speeches. 

This isn’t about race.  I don’t think every black preacher is saying the things Reverend Wright did from their pulpits.  I couldn’t possibly judge that, because I know very little about black churches.  I’m assuming that, like the church’s in my area of the world, each one is different; no two are really comparable, even if their theological views are similar.  So I have no issue with his skin color or yours.  If he were white, I would still feel the exact same way. 

But, back to Reverend Wright’s statements . . . can you tell me why?  Even if they were taken out of context, even if we’d have understood if we’d heard the whole sermon . . . I still can’t fathom why he said phrases like ‘God damn Amerca’.  In no fathomable circumstance should those words be uttered.  Context or no.  And furthermore why did the audience cheer?  Has he captivated them so much they no longer listen to what comes out of his mouth?  Has he become Christ to his followers, and they’ll support everything that comes out of his mouth?  Is he like that to you??   Is this why you will not disown him?

I mean, c’mon.  America planted AIDS in Africa to start a genocide?  Good grief.  That’s a laughable statement.  I don’t believe it’s possible to track down such a widespread disease to a starting place, but let’s just pretend it was.  And let’s pretend it really was a white American who infected the country.  Are you telling me that it was a hateful American plot???  One man doesn’t represent our country’s motives anymore than Reverend Wright represents all black ministers.  This is pure foolishness! 

Well, I hope I have explained my views frankly enough.  I also hope this comes across as respectful as it’s meant.  Your positive, hopeful campaign does have a great message.

Sincerely Yours,

Emily Grace