a college ministry should be a border crossing

Yesterday’s “Fridea” for college ministry discussed, among other things, specifically recruiting students who might be drawn to leadership or service opportunities. And that reminded me of a huge opportunity – and, I would challenge, a necessity – for us college ministers.

I believe one of the overlooked responsibilities of college ministries is to provide a check to Christian students who possess major “character holes” and yet presume to be leaders or teachers, formally or informally.

We all encounter Christian collegians who have made it through Youth Group with character concerns that could someday spell their doom. And even now, unbeknownst to them, these issues are keeping them from the abundance God has for them. Yet some of these very students hope to assume leadership roles or other high-profile opportunities within our college ministries.

Maybe their character-hole is clear immorality that a student has been able to justify. But it’s often something less “obvious” but just as sinister: The way she’s always breaking commitments. How his emotions are allowed to sabotage him on a regular basis. The way he treats the opposite sex. Her knack for claiming “a word from the Lord” to justify following her personal desires. Inability to work hard. Inability to keep friends. Inability to submit to authority. And so on.

I really feel that we college ministers are in some ways the “last line of defense” for these students (and for the real world that awaits them). Of course, we’re not actually anything “last” here – the Holy Spirit can convict whenever and however He chooses.

But as students step beyond the walls of college, moral failings will be easier to hide, easier to negotiate around, and even easier to dismiss in one’s own life. Plus the level of community-intimacy simply isn’t as “automatic” in the young adult world – making it much harder for error to be recognized sooner rather than later. So these individuals may find an easy path to ministry positions or other leadership roles – all the while sowing the seeds of their own (and others’) destruction.

So I believe that every college ministry should function as a sort of “Border Crossing” on our side in the messy, intimate, perhaps-still-teachable country of College. Christian students with major holes in their character – especially those who “presume to be something” – shouldn’t find it easy to sojourn with us without being challenged about their immorality.

Let it not be said of us that we failed to “hold back those staggering to slaughter,” that we didn’t urge each one under our care to “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Remember God’s demand on Ezekiel: “If … you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezek. 3:18 ESV)

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