the hard work of ecclesiology

Continuing from yesterday

The truth is, college ministers (including me) need to do the hard work of ecclesiology. We who deal with newly-independent college students don’t have room to be novices in this area.

We seem to have a few pet phrases to help us define “church” in a pinch, like “Church is where you baptize and do the Lord’s supper” or “Church is where you use your gifts” or “Church isn’t a building; it’s people.” But the problem with trite phrases – including trite phrases that are true – is that if those are all we give our students, then they don’t have actual biblical reasons for what they do.

I feel like our students need a lot better than that in this area. I don’t mean that we all have to go study ecclesiology in seminary. But I do think we need to hunker down sometimes and figure out key faith-issues when they matter to our lives and/or the lives of those we impact… and this is probably one of those key issues for most college ministers, for the reasons I talked about yesterday.

And I encourage this hefty work even though I know Christians will come to different conclusions about what this should look like. We will ultimately differ on the biblical commands for personal involvement in the Body of Christ, as well as what we each believe to be simply healthiest for college students.

But it’s far better for us to disagree with intellectual integrity, having done enough ecclesiological study to have grounds for doing so… instead of mumbling to others in our particular preference-camp about “the other guys” and not having a lot to offer our students to back up our reasons for (or against) churchmanship.

Remember, this series involves ideas that I personally believe could honestly transform a college ministry. I think if ministers do the hard work of ecclesiology, it might just make a bigger difference than we imagine.

BONUS: For an example of this debate taking place at Wheaton College a while back, check out this post, which discusses one of the most interesting “finds” of my entire trip. Be sure to check out the .pdf download there.

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