is Wheaton a church?

Edman Chapel, Wheaton

Is a Christian college actually a church? What about a dorm Bible study? What about a major campus-based ministry, like Campus Crusade or InterVarsity? Do Christian communities like these equate to “church involvement”? Do they need to?

In EACH of the first four issues of Wheaton College’s school newspaper, The Wheaton Record, students and professors discussed this question – through an editorial, a response, another editorial, and two more printed responses. I’ve got each of those as a PDF below.

Remember, at the end of the summer we learned once again that most “church kids” don’t stay in the church through their college years. So this is an important topic anyway. But when this rather “spontaneous” discussion arises at the school some call the “Harvard of Evangelicalism” and continues for a month, it deserves special notice.

These are real and smart arguments, even when you or I disagree with them. In fact, they state generally well-reasoned versions of very common church views among this generation. These articles provide an incredibly important, first-hand look at this issue as it exists at a pinnacle of Christian education.

Second, it’s clear from talking to the Wheaton Chaplain that the college cares about the issue and works to disciple students in this area. I’ll write more on that – with links to some pertinent Wheaton chapel messages – in the follow-up post in a day or two. (Click here to see the follow-up post.)

Finally, as you read these articles, I encourage you to ask yourself:

If you heard regular preaching from amazing individuals (like Erwin Lutzer, on spiritual warfare, on Halloween); if you had regular “Bible studies” taught by the likes of Doug Moo, Karen Jobes, and Gary Burge; if you had very regular community with members of God’s family, both your age and much older; if you had access to organized discipleship groups with your peers; if you had oversight from a Chaplain and community discipline; if you worshiped with other Christians at least three times a week – and took the Lord’s Supper together once a month; if you had lots of opportunities to serve and lead… might you possibly ask these same questions about your involvement in a local church?

This may be trickier than we think. I figure it’s something worth figuring out. Look for the follow-up shortly.

Week 1: “We like shopping.” The Record staff argues for 4 years of NON-involvement in church.

Week 2: “Wheaton is not a church.” In a letter, a Wheaton prof rebuts the first article.

Week 3: “Wheaton fits definition of Church.” In an editorial, a Wheaton Junior argues that the school may very well be a church.

Week 4: “So what is a church?” and “Wheaton not a church.” In two letters, a Wheaton Senior theorizes why we face this confusion, and a well-known professor/author rebuts Week 3’s editorial.

After you take a look at those articles, click here to see the follow-up post on this topic!

One Comment

  1. I was pleased to see Ben last week and be able to discuss his project over dinner. As one closely connected to Wheaton College (as a parent and former employee), I have read with interest the college newspaper’s discussion of “Is Wheaton a church?” I eagerly anticipate Ben’s findings on college ministry.

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