One method (of many) for helping impact a campus for Christ is purposefully presenting the counter-cultural nature of the Message and Life we offer. Being noticeably counter-cultural provides an opportunity to draw students to Christ. And while living in Christ naturally produces a counter-cultural-ness, there seems to be some room to stress these aspects in order to draw a watching world. (The Newsboys – and Jesus – call it “shining.”)
This is on my mind after seeing it in action – at least a couple of times on the same campus – during my recent road trip.
Here’s the rub: counter-cultural college ministry seems to require a few things:
- We need to understand that counter-cultural methods in one place are not necessarily counter-cultural methods in every place. Sharing a notion of absolute truth is counter-cultural in many U.S. places. But striving for excellence in our ministry efforts, while universally important, is counter-cultural in only some collegiate environments. So…
- We collegiate leaders have to gain a true and deep understanding of the culture in which we’re laboring.
- We need to recognize where our Christian message and lifestyle contrast with that culture – or even offer to fulfill its deep needs.
Many (or all?) of our counter-cultural methods would be right and good even if they weren’t counter-cultural. But this method for college ministry involves making purposeful efforts to highlight these aspects to the people around us.
What if your college ministry events “felt different” to the average student from your campus – even if they couldn”t exactly put a finger on why? What if, just as Peter suggested, we and (especially) our students presented ourselves in a way that practically made people ask why? Wouldn’t that be a unique apologetic?
Examples tomorrow (or soon). [Here’s the first example: offering counter-cultural sexuality.]