Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Missional Campus Ministry 4 (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

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Last week I took my eldest to Bethel University in St. Paul (well Arden Hills) where moving in was truly an experience. The President of the University and his wife, Jay and Barb Barnes, greeted each and every new student as they drove into the campus (the same conversation some 500-600 times or so). Cars were unloaded in less than 2 minutes each – as the students were checked into the dorms. 

Bethel is a Christian college, loosely denominational – about 11% of the incoming class is from the denomination (BGC or Converge Worldwide), about 25% are Baptists of some sort, while the other 75% come from a whole range of other denominations. This is a beautiful campus and a thriving school.  Under the leadership and vision of a number of individuals including the last three presidents  (Carl Lundquist (’54-’82), George Brushaber (’82-’08), and now Jay Barnes) the school has expanded offerings and built an excellent academic reputation.  Among the sciences, which of course peak my interest, the Chemistry department is ACS accredited and the Physics department was featured in Physics Today as a thriving program. Math and Biology are also doing well. These departments have sent students to medical school and to top graduate schools from coast to coast – UC Berkeley to MIT.

As I was sitting listening to speeches and experiencing the welcome I started to ponder a few questions I would like to pose today.

What important roles do Christian Colleges and Universities play in our church today? Does education in a Christian environment promote or inhibit the growth of a mature faith?

What makes a Christian college effective?


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I have a few ideas here – and would like to get your input as well. It seems to me that an effective Christian college will have several key traits.

It will have an outreach within its community.

It will encourage its students to participate in kingdom activities.

It will be focused on shaping the future not placating the parents (or pastors).

It will educate not indoctrinate. It will be broadly Christian not dogmatically narrow. The purpose is not to teach the right answers or a narrow doctrinal position, but to equip students to grow in mature faith.

It will send its students out to participate in the mission of God. 

It will equip students to be a witness in all levels of our society.  This means high standards and quality programs.

What would you add to (or subtract from) the list? How can or should a Christian college participate in shaping the future as they equip 18-25 year olds? Do you have any examples of particularly effective approaches?

If you wish to contact me directly you may do so at rjs4mail [at] att.net.



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Rick

posted September 1, 2009 at 7:38 am


I am not sure how you are defining “effective” and “mature faith”. There are most likely various views on those mean.
“It will educate not indoctrinate.”
That is sometimes a fine line.
For example, “It will have an outreach within its community”, “It will encourage its students to participate in kingdom activities”, “It will send its students out to participate in the mission of God.”
Are you not then indoctrinating them to adopt a missional based theology?
Truth be told, I don’t disagree with much of what you stated here, especially that missional mindset, but I do think what you are proposing has more indoctrination to it than it would appear on the surface.
Then again, don’t all higher education institutions engage in some form of indoctrination, either obvious or hidden?



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 7:47 am


Rick,
The definition of indoctrinate in the dictionary I have at hand is:
Cause to believe something. To teach somebody a belief, doctrine, or ideology thoroughly and systematically, especially with the goal of discouraging independent thought or the acceptance of other opinions.
In my opinion this is not “education.”



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 8:18 am


Rick,
Perhaps a good question to ponder – what is the “value added” in a Christian college compared with an effective college in general? I know – effective is still up for interpretation. But that is part of the question – how do you define effective?



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Joey

posted September 1, 2009 at 9:00 am


I think it can go either way. For me a small Christian liberal arts school was perfect. I wasn’t raised in the church, nor did I have many Christian friends so for me it was my first complete immersion into Christian community. There were other students that went, though, to be protected. They and their parents were afraid of what a non-Christian education might do to them and used the Christian school as a way to further shield and isolate.
I feel lucky to have gone to a school that produces so many moderate thinkers though, both theologically and politically.



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Chris Gehrz

posted September 1, 2009 at 9:42 am


As a Bethel professor, I’m grateful for RJS’ observations on our community. To his list of traits, I’d simply add that an effective Christian college will — first and foremost — point to Jesus Christ.
RJS mentioned Bethel’s longest-serving president, Carl Lundquist. Let me quote him: “…the unifying center of the academic program is neither Truth nor the Pursuit of Truth but is Jesus Christ Himself. Ultimately, in our Christian view, Truth and Christ are one, and the important thing about Truth is that it ought to point to Christ.”
The influence of Bethel’s pietist heritage is pretty strong here; to seek truth is not (primarily) to understand or affirm propositions, but to enter into relationship with a person. Lundquist again: “Truth, in fact, is troth ? a way of loving. And it is motivated not only by curiosity and the desire to be in control but by compassion. Truth is meant to be personalized through our response of obedience to it. Surely this is a natural implication of Christ’s insistence, ‘I am the truth.'”



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Rick

posted September 1, 2009 at 9:51 am


“Perhaps a good question to ponder – what is the “value added” in a Christian college compared with an effective college in general?”
That is exactly where I was going with this.
From the definition of indoctrination you provided, “especially with the goal of discouraging…the acceptance of other opinions”, do we want to then promote the acceptance of other religious (or anti-religious) ideologies?
And if that is the case, then what makes a Christian college different than any other college?
Christian colleges exist because they see that believe in some form of “truth” (or “Truth”) that is not necessarily seen in secular institutions. That would be the “added value.” If one of the definitions of “educate” is “to instruct”, then Christian colleges instruct based on that truth.
“Effective” from Merriam-Webster:
“producing…a desired effect; ready for service or action” (I personally like that last part in relation to this discussion).
In my opinion then, for a Christian college, the “desired effect” would be then be to educate based on what that college holds as its essentials of Christianity, and its overall theology.
Students would then need to determine what their goals are in attending college. For example, if a student seeks to study one of the sciences in hopes of going on to study at a top-notch secular institution, the student needs to be selective in which college to attend.
Thus, the effectiveness of the college would be when the institution’s goals meet and help accomplish the goals of the student.
One of the definitions of education is “to persuade or condition to feel, believe, or act in a desired way.” If the added value of a Christian college is a view “truth” or “Truth”, then (again) there can sometimes a fine line between what is seen as education and what is seen as indoctrination.



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Karl

posted September 1, 2009 at 9:54 am


We used to cynically joke about the phrase “the integration of faith and learning” at Wheaton College because we heard it so often that we were sick of it by the end of our first semester. But at its best, that is one of the “value added” aspects of a Christian college education. Like the discussion on this board, approaching topics in all disciplines with the goal of integrating one’s faith with the topic, of “thinking Christianly” about it (even if we wrestled with and disagreed about just what that entailed) was refreshing and invigorating, and helped break down a sacred/secular dichotomy in one’s thinking. Of course not all professors integreate faith and learning and stimulate their students equally well. But that can be said about any aspect of a college education.
RJS, have you read Alan Wolfe’s Atlantic Monthly piece on evangelical higher education (now nearly a decade old) titled “The Opening of the Evangelical Mind?”
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/10/wolfe.htm



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James

posted September 1, 2009 at 10:16 am


RJS,
I think you allude to the best thing a Christian college can do in your first post, which is to educate in such a way that promotes critical thinking. At the very least, a Christian college should provide an environment that is accepting of Christian thought. This should be a no brainer, sadly it is not.
Christianity is a highly defensible world view, and they should deveilop the ability to defend it in the face of real challengest that anti-christs put forth.
All that said, for as much as community is important, free will still comes to play. Each student will mature or whither as he abides, or not, in Christ.



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Rachel H. Evans

posted September 1, 2009 at 10:19 am


I attended a small Christian liberal arts college, as did many of my readers. Most of us seem to agree that the experience challenged us in good ways…and not-so-good ways.
If I were advising a high school senior about choosing a Christian College, I would encourage him or her to look for one that:
1) is non-denominational with a variety of theological perspectives within the Bible department
2) provides opportunities for students to contribute to the community
3) provides opportunities for travel/study abroad
4) provides opportunities for leadership/community-building on campus
5) fosters a generous perspective on orthodoxy and encourages independent thought
The college I attended hit it out of the park regarding points 1-4. However, I struggled after graduating because some of my professors left me with the impression that things like young earth creationism, religious exclusivism, biblical literalism, and conservative politics were FUNDAMENTAL elements of the Christian faith. So when I questioned some of these positions after graduating, I assumed that I was questioning Christianity itself.
I really like what Chris said: “…To seek truth is not (primarily) to understand or affirm propositions, but to enter into relationship with a person.”
Every Christian college student, professor, and administrator should keep this in mind. Well said!



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Good thoughts

posted September 1, 2009 at 10:41 am


I am an adjunct at Bethel U. I am so happy you liked my school! Your list is good. I personally strive to help students be leaders in their fields. To be innovators instead of simply managers.
Dan Kent
dankent.extendr.com



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dopderbeck

posted September 1, 2009 at 10:44 am


Great list! I’m eternally grateful that I had the chance to attend Gordon College some 20-odd years ago. Even then, I think they did a very good job at the sorts of items you list. I did not experience any of the problems Rachel (#9) mentions because Gordon has always been committed to critical thinking. If anything, I found the more narrow perspectives I brought to the table challenged and stretched, in ways that still challenge and stretch me today.
I would add one thing to the list though: the education needs to be reasonably affordable by normal middle-class Americans. I honestly don’t know if we could afford to send my kids to Gordon or Wheaton or Bethel or Messiah or Westmont, etc.



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Jeremy White

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:40 pm


I think a worthwhile Christian college experience should include hard-core instruction in three essential areas. Ironically, I am a pastor and the three points all begin with “E”…
1) Evangelism: Making sure students are involved in cutting-edge community evangelism using such tools as the circulation of “testa-mints” candy, evangecubes, wearing (exclusively) t-shirts with controversial Christian slogans, and striking up conversations with people using bait and switch “surveys” that lead those unsuspecting citizens to think the undercover evangelist actually gives a crap about them – all the while suckering them into an awkward spiritual conversation.
2) Entertainment: Incessantly reminding students that only listening exclusively to Christian rock music (instead of that evil secular stuff) will prevent them from the subliminal brainwashing of Satan in the realm of entertainment. Also, it is important that students realize the fact that all rated R movies should be avoided at all costs – and that being alone with someone of the opposite sex on a date could lead to temptation – or worse yet – dancing!
3) Education: Students should be encouraged to treat the Bible as a text book – a repository of “how-to” statements with answers to everything from raising a pet to changing the oil in a car. If ever a scientific or historic discovery at first seems to be at odds with the Bible, students should learn how to disengage from the discussion and label the opposition as liberal, dishonest heretics who had better repent before God sends a natural disaster to their city to teach them a lesson!
In short, a Christian university should teach young evangelicals how to circle the wagons and withdraw from this hell-bound den of iniquity we call “culture” so that they can remain pure and un-tainted by anyone with the audacity to question their beliefs!
(OK, that…only the exact opposit…) ;)



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Drew Tatusko

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm


as you know this is a bit sticky depending how how you define “Christian.” for instance, burtchaell has a much more strict definition rooted in doctrine in “the dying of the light” which makes even many current church-related institutions outside of his definition, as he argues at the end. however, i think benne in “quality with soul” makes a nice contribution with a typology of four kinds of church-related or christian college. it makes the variation of them a bit more precise since there are different kinds of christian colleges. my current dissertation is actually exploring how we define these institutions and analyzing it through secularization theory where it is more of a continuum between secular and sectarian.
on benne’s x axis are Orthodox,Critical Mass,Intentionally Pluralist, and Accidentally Pluralist – from sectarian to secular more or less. on the Y axis are,
Public Relevance of Christian Vision
Public Rhetoric
Membership Requirements
Religion/Theology Department
Religion/Theology Courses Required
Chapel
Ethos
Support by Church
Governance
so it’s not so much IF an institution is Christian or not, but the EXTENT to which we can identify it’s features as a given kind of Christian expression. for one example, i work at a small college sponsored by the religious sisters of mercy. the mission is embedded in the curriculum, yet we do not require covenants or statements of faith. sopme would call this not christian even though we are Catholic.



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Steve S

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:51 pm


I have to add to the list, as there is a glaring hole in it.
Chris (#5) said that a Christian College should point towards Jesus, but what about pointing towards what Jesus is currently at work doing on the earth? The Church!
My own experience of Christian education is that it has directly and indirectly hindered the local church in many ways, essentially competing with the local Church by attempting to co-opt the purpose and mission of the local Church to the institution (ie, worship, discipleship, community, and mission).
Sure, students are usually compelled to ‘go to church’ but this primarily means, ‘attend a Sunday gathering;’ the student is expected to find their purpose at the school. Worship, spiritual formation, community, evangelism, discipleship, etc. are all expected to take place within the school setting, and so the perverted understanding of Church is perpetuated by the Christian school; instead of complementing the Church by helping Christians receive a scholastic education, the Church is being replaced…



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Marie

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm


Jeremy,
Sadly, this is the understanding of going to Christian colleges. I attended Bethel for just 3 short semesters and worked at a nearby cafe up the road. When I would tell people I went to Bethel I would get the stink face and the occasional comment of “oh..you’re one of them.” There was always a negative connotation in our community when it came to Bethel, unless of course you were talking with an alumni.
It’s disgusting how we use Christianity as a weapon sometimes to ‘sucker’ people into our religion.
We heard a lot at Bethel to ‘go out,’ to ‘leave our comfort’ zone, to be ‘in the world but not of it.’ Yet, we were never told what that means. We can talk all we want about actually being missionally focused, however, until we experiment and actually DO action…we’re losing the fight. Bethel was really good about just talking and discussing.
So how can we really GO OUT? We must instead of just doing outreach and kingdom activities INSIDE our community but stretch ourselves and GO OUT. Literally, leave the ‘Bethel Bubble’ and GO.



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm


Karl,
Fascinating article – I hadn’t read it before.
James,
I agree – one thing that a Christian college can provide, something that is hard to find in many places, is atmosphere where it is OK to be a thinking Christian, emphasis on both “thinking” and “Christian.”
I have been involved in secular academia long enough to have a rather realistic view of both the pluses and minuses – this can be a very antagonistic atmosphere, on some levels quite narrow minded.
I agree that Christianity is a highly defensible world view. But to make an impact outside of the cozy confines of the church, students really must be taught to defend Christianity against strong arguments, not by rote or against “straw man” arguments. I sometimes think that Christian colleges inhibit growth by declaring some topics out of bounds occasionally explicitly, more often implicitly.



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Dale Brueggemann

posted September 1, 2009 at 12:59 pm


What’s wrong with a little indoctrination? Isn’t doctrine important?



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Jeremy White

posted September 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm


Marie (#15),
Thanks for your affirmation of my sarcastic little note with a serious point. I am bummed that your experience was like that at a major Christian university.
Just for the record to anyone else who read it (#12), I was not attempting to slam any school per se – just to have a little bit of fun by making fun or our (sometimes disappointing) subculture…



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 1:34 pm


Marie,
If I “leave my bubble” and go talk about being a Christian here (secular University) or in my community (college town) I will get a “stink face” “oh you’re one of them” reaction. How is the reaction you got any different?



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James

posted September 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm


RJS said: “students really must be taught to defend Christianity against strong arguments, not by rote or against “straw man” arguments.”
AMEN!
And you don’t have to go further than the comments section in the various “Atheism” posts on this blog to know that we’ve done a really poor job at this, both by nature of *some* of the Christian responses, but mostly by the atheists who come here expecting to blow us away with their raw, unadulterated, intellectual force. They have no *idea* that we have any sort of reasonable responses.
Perhaps we need to ask the next layer of questions once we get the stink face, or at the very least not be ashamed of what we believe. Much much harder done than said.
I haven’t seen it said here yet, but the parental tie will continue to be the most important thing in the college education. I’m sure that Parent-RJS will do well, as well as a broken human can, by staying involved and in dialogue with the young man.



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Phil

posted September 1, 2009 at 2:14 pm


To speak to RJS, both article and response…
— what is the “value added” in a Christian college compared with an effective college in general?
I attended Houghton College in the 1990’s and it was a great experience. Dr. James Manoia (sp?), our academic dean at the time had published some work for the CCC in this regard. His understanding was that a Christian liberal arts education should lead some one to critical thought or what he entitled Critical Commitment, to step out in faith based on the knowledge before you and risk your life in and for it, yet remaining humble to other opinions.
He saw this a three tier piece in development:
1. Dogmatism, or indoctrination taught by many Bible schools, non school, home-schooled, etc.b The purpose of the institution is to indoctrinate the student in positions and protect them.
2. Relativism or pluralism, as taught in some secular institutions breaks a students dogmatism, but replaces it with a plurality of opinions without tools to sort them.
3. Critical commitment seeks to take the dogmatic, break it down, and sort the student through a time of plurality, but preferably providing students the tools necessary to commit to convictions prior to or following graduation.
Like Einstein’s quote that a problem can’t be solved at the same level, Manoia would state that people can only recognize one tier above, that a dogmatic person can not tell the difference in rational for why they and someone who is critically committed hold the same position, but someone who is a pluralist can understand the differences in their reasoning.
Houghton’s motto was to develop servant leaders at its something I believe it does well, producing capable professionals in a variety of fields. I believe that the environment and opportunities to study abroad and in community with committed and mature professors is a key to this.



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Karl

posted September 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm


RJS, if you haven’t read them the sidebar web-only interviews with Noll, Muow, Jacobs and Marsden that accompany that article, are well worth reading as well. That Atlantic Monthly piece and the accompanying interviews are a great starting point for discussing Christian higher ed, IMO.
The scenes and positive impressions of intellectual rigor and curiosity that Wolfe observes (visiting a Wheaton Poli Sci classroom, sharing a table and discussing postmodernism with Lundin and Jacobs, etc.) are reflective of my experience in Christian higher education. At its best, it can be a great good, if not for everyone then at least for students such as I was. At its worst though, as evidenced by some of the other comments here, it can be a bad thing. But then again, you could probably say the same about 4 years at Cal Berkley or Wellesley. Liberating, enriching, life-changing experience? Or four years of oppressive indoctrination?



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L.L. Barkat

posted September 1, 2009 at 2:57 pm


It will not emphasize mind over body over spirit.



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J.Ben

posted September 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm


I have thought about this topic off and on for a while and I realize that I do have a limited perspective with a lot to learn. Having said that, I went to the University of Oregon, a place many would consider a death trap for Christian students, and came out with a much stronger and bigger faith than I came in with. This was a direct result of getting involved with a missional campus ministry.
We were not able to sit around and rest in the comfort of our ideas or our common beliefs. We had to figure out how to live them out in our context. It was difficult for a lot of us to do but we learned and tried and failed and succeeded and understood more about what God is doing in the world.
I lived in a dorm with about 40 other guys who wanted nothing more than to start the weekend on Wednesday. They could have cared less about Jesus. But as they got to know me and my room mate, they began to ask questions. They saw the ways we tried to love them and challenge them. We would have spiritual discussions with 25 of them at a time and they were great. I began to understand God’s heart for those that don’t know him and aren’t an active part of His Kingdom coming.
The best defense you have for your faith is living it out. The Word must always become flesh. People may stop giving us the stink-eye when our communities began to experience healing and restoration and new life. I learned that at an extremely secular university.



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Brian in NZ

posted September 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm


“The purpose is not to teach the right answers or a narrow doctrinal position, but to equip students to grow in mature faith.
It will send its students out to participate in the mission of God.
It will equip students to be a witness in all levels of our society.”
I thought these were the task of the church, not an educational institute.
I also wonder if keeping children in a Christian environment until they graduate from university does actually prepare them for working amongst non Christians in a non-Christian work place.



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm


Brian in NZ,
Isn’t a Christian College part of the Church? I would expect that its mission would be a part of the mission of the church.
Karl,
The interviews on the sidebar are also quite good.



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Steve S

posted September 1, 2009 at 4:28 pm


RJS #26
I don’t think Christian Colleges are a part of the Church at all!
At least not in the sense that they are engaging in the purpose of the Church…
…and, when they DO engage in the purpose of the Church, as I stated above, I see that as weakening the local Church, and hurting the students involved. I cannot count how many students I know who were deeply committed to Jesus in college (as a part of a campus ministry, or at a Christian School) who lost that fire when college ended, PRECISELY BECAUSE the school/ministry prevented them from inclusion in a local community of Christians.
Perhaps you might say that teaching people to think critically is a part of the Church’s purpose in discipleship, but once you start compartmentalizing, reducing, and separating different aspects of the Church’s purpose and assigning it to different institutions, I believe you are damaging the Christian community, and individual Christians (ie the Church).



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm


Steve,
If you think that the “local church” can be all things to all Christians in today’s culture – I have to disagree. It simply is not suited to do so. As a church we need to specialize at times.



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 5:54 pm


Steve,
To continue a bit…
Involvement in a local church is an important part of Christian life. Neither a college nor a campus parachurch ministry should usurp this position. But that does not mean that college and parachurch ministries are not part of the church – of course they are, with a specialized purpose in the body, as are missions and ministries like World Vision.
I don’t think that the problem you describe … those who lose fire when college ends … actually lose it because the school/ministry prevented them from inclusion in a local community of Christians. The problem is much more complicated than this.



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Steve S

posted September 1, 2009 at 9:14 pm


I have a mild tendency towards dogmatism (and a slight penchant for sarcasm as well perhaps) ;-)
…but I have simply seen too many para-church ministries (of which we could include Christian Colleges) that implicitly promote unhealthy practices.
Primarily:
1) An unscriptural view of what the Church is
2) Missing out on one or more of the following a) the full-orbed community of God’s people, b) the missionary thrust of the Gospel c) spiritual formation and discipleship
3) Robbing the local Church of its resources by sending people to be filled by the Church while pouring out in another ministry
I agree that para-church ministries are not, in and of themselves, problematic, and that they can be extremely beneficial to the whole Church and the local church. In practice however, there seems to be real problems…
Case in point, your phrase ‘involvement in a local church is an important part of Christian life’ is IMHO a part of the problem perpetuated by para-church organizations. The Church is one organization amongst many, and Christians should choose to participate in this particular organization.
I just don’t think this holds up to the Scriptural picture of the Church. We are the church, it isn’t something we ‘attend.’ Instead, Scripture points to the Church as God’s chosen method to accomplish His purposes…
If a para-church organization were to operate in a healthy way, I would be excited for it, but it rarely seems to… a student group I am familiar with simply is a church, even though they deny it, and they lack many integral pieces of Church life. (In this case they are missing leadership, spiritual formation, and diversity)
You may be right in saying there is more nuance to my many friends and acquaintances, but the fact remains, aside from the campus ministry, they never engaged in community with people who were pursuing Christ and His Mission. And so, upon graduation, when they were kicked out of the only contextual grid they had for Christian community, discipleship, evangelism and worship, they fell apart…
I know I am an idealist, but I most emphatically do not think that the ‘local Church can be all things to all Christians.’ The local Church isn’t supposed to be anything to any Christian!!!!
Instead, the local church is the Christians, and we are supposed to be all things to the world. And it is precisely this, that I see subverted by the dominant para-church paradigm.
Thanks for the pushback!



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RJS

posted September 1, 2009 at 9:37 pm


Steve,
There is also a “church” near my campus that intentionally bills itself as “not your parents church” among other somewhat more annoying slogans and markets to students and young scholars. There is no intention to plant a multigenerational church. Frankly – this is simply parachurch by another name. Parachurch organizations on campuses though are significantly different from Christian colleges.
No Christian college is perfect and not all students will actually act on the teachings either (so it can convey the right message and some will still ignore it).
Are seminaries and bible colleges part of the church? I would say so because these are (or should be) institutions enabling members of the body to obtain training that will assist them as part of the church for the world. Christian colleges are (or should be) the same. The intent isn’t to isolate, withdraw, or protect – but to educate, equip, and send forth.



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Steve S

posted September 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm


I think we just differ in what the Church is and does…
If the Church is God’s method for equipping and training for ministry, and the proper context for calling and sending (as I believe Scripture, and personal experience warrants) then seminaries are redundant at best and a serious problem at worst.
I would level the same critiques at Churches who fail to be the Church as you do, however, that is simply a symptom of the very problem I am describing. A failure of Christians to understand just what the Church is and does; para-church organizations sapping the strength of the local church, and Christians seeing the Church as a place to be fed…



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Marie

posted September 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm


RJS,
When I said I’d get the ‘stink face’ or the ‘one of them’ comment it was because Bethel students have done some damage in the past within community. In 1999, they handed out tracks/bible books to the community businesses, without any follow up.
It has left a bad taste in mouths.



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RJS

posted September 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm


Marie,
Isn’t the reason we get a reaction in any setting often because of true failures of Christians in the past (even in the present)?
I know of no group anywhere who has lived out Christian ideals in perfection…but this alone isn’t a reason for cynicism or distance.



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Benson Hines

posted September 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm


I really appreciate you including discussion of Christian colleges within your series on Campus Ministry. I’ve found it helpful to recognize the two fields of study involved: The institution itself might fit under the field of Christian Higher Education, while the specific spiritual development these schools purposely offer (especially through the Spiritual Life department) is very much a part of the field of Collegiate Ministry. Obviously, there is overlap there.
As I’ve explored college ministry, I’ve made a point to talk to Christian college chaplains around the U.S. Just like in the rest of college ministry, their ministries show a wide range of purposefulness, longevity, funding, concern for students’ local church involvement, “missionality,” and everything else. There are plenty of shining stars out there that have apparently modeled quality student impact for years, and there are others who don’t present a strong approach to ministry to students. It’s interesting to see which ones fall into each category – it’s not always what we would expect.
The comments on this post have been really instructive and balanced. Honestly, I’m surprised that more people haven’t come out swinging against OR exclusively for Christian colleges – I know there are plenty in both of those camps. Hooray for Jesus Creed readers.
The only other thing I have to add is the series I blogged this summer, looking at Christin college advantages (and some disadvantages) from a college minister’s perspective. It was posted in response to another college ministry blogger, who was taking a hard stance against Christian colleges. It starts at http://exploringcollegeministry.com/2009/06/01/christian-colleges-and-my-counterpoint-to-criticism/



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Marie

posted September 2, 2009 at 6:44 pm


True. And I’m not trying to portray that I’m cynical or bitter towards Bethel. They have an incredible program and do wonderful things. However, in my experience in the community surrounding Bethel…it was very difficult to find who appreciated Bethel and what they were doing. Bethel AND the broader Christian community have hurt a lot of people.



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