So after getting that question a few times recently – “What have you learned so far on your Road Trip?” – I actually prayed and thought about it a little, so I would have something helpful to say.

And since some are probably reading this blog with a question of their own toward that end, I figured I’d jot down three key areas I’ve sure noticed on this trip already. While conclusions are probably still a long way off, I’ve definitely noticed some trends, questions, and other themes that have made an impression.

The Church Question

I’ve already talked about this one, especially in the post linked here and its follow-up – some pretty important discussions, in my opinion. But the topic certainly does keep coming up – it came up today, in fact. That topic? The progression of college students towards biblical participation in local churches. Some say it’s unnecessary, many define “church” differently, and lots of students aren’t thinking about it. But from what I’ve seen so far, plenty of collegiate ministers are thinking about it – ministers who are part of church-based ministries, campus-based ministries, and Christian colleges.

Fun? As Christians?

Whenever you expose yourself to multiple ministries of the same type, you’re gonna notice contrasts between them. One contrast I noticed particularly in Chicago is something we don’t think about all that often – and it’s how much fun we provide for our students. That may seem like a weird observation, but differences in this area can be awfully noticeable if you’re watchin’ for it. On this trip, I’ve seen some ministries really “make room” for joy in abundance. I’ve also seen ministries that almost seem to aim for general gloom, in the name of spirituality or wisdom or whatever. And others, not quite as bad, simply miss opportunities to enjoy life with their students (who, believe it or not, can occasionally be tempted to be too serious). Just something we can all think about – and something I’m learning about on this trip.

Social Justice Has Tenure

“Social justice,” equity themes, global compassion – whatever we call it, this “push” is not a soon-passing fad. It is impacting just about every ministry I ran into in Chicago, and the same seems to be true here in Boston. It was discussed repeatedly at Catalyst and Passion, too. It’s not going away. (Not that it needs to, but I’m just sayin’…)

This may be too pragmatic, but that fact – that this theme will be around for a while – seems to be a pretty good reason for us to engage the topic. My concern is that for whatever reason – wise concerns or unthinking opposition to Social Justice theories – we’re going to relegate all the thinking on this issue to the secular establishment. That means that in 5 years, when SJ is still on the table, all our students will only have learned about it from groups who mostly couldn’t care less about Christ or biblical truth. C’mon. That’d be kinda dumb, right?

So anyway, though I had heard plenty that this was the new “big deal” for college students, youth, and young adults, I’ve now seen it firsthand in multiple locations.

That’s it for now. There’s plenty more I’m learning, sure, but those are the most noticeable three so far.