diving into issues, to illustrate diving into issues

This week’s Fridea was inspired by a recent post by my college minister friend Steve Lutz (who serves among the Nittany Lion tribe). In his post, he looked ahead to a discussion group he’d be holding this semester – including the very timely topics the group would be contemplating.

This is common in some ministries, but I would guess that most – especially those campus ministries that are larger or more well-developed – don’t make intentional space to discuss such issues with students. Perhaps we occasionally teach about the issues of the day – which can have major benefits, to be sure. But there’s a deeper chance to disciple students by illustrating how a Christian thinks through various issues – including things that could easily be categorized as only “secular.”

So that’s this week’s Fridea: Spend one “session” thinking with students about the issues of the day.

Can this take place regularly? Sure. But that’s not this Fridea. This is just an encouragement to think about doing it once, in a very intentional and explicit way. It might look something like this:

  1. Designate a normal portion of your ministry schedule – either a regular teaching time or one week in small groups.
  2. Prepare multiple topics to look at – with questions that strike at the spiritual angles of each issue, including angles students might not naturally consider. (See examples at the bottom.)
  3. Walk students through the thinking process. This might be taught – with a large dose of audience feedback or Q&A – or it might be true dialogue. Use the method that’s best for your group.
  4. Whichever method you use, I’d encourage you to lead. The purpose is not to get students to have the same sorts of discussions they may have already had on Facebook or in their dorms. It’s to use real-life, pressing issues to illustrate the ideals of a Christian College Student Thoughtful Response.

Sadly, many students haven’t viewed current events through a spiritual lens; it’s hard to think of many more valuable ways for us to disciple them. And the topics they’re interested in provide teachable moments; I encourage you to seize the moment!

topics / questions

One of the reasons this idea might be especially useful right now is that several BIG issues have popped up in the last month. [If you’re reading this later, of course, I’m sure you can find some other great issues to dialogue on.]

In case you’ve forgotten, some of the recent topics (with suggested spiritual angles worth exploring):

  • Haiti (compassion, donating, wisdom when donating, “What if I don’t feel passionate about this?,” responding to needs close to home, Pat Buchanan’s response, other Christians’ response to PB, etc.)
  • Avatar (a better world beyond earth, religious issues, dealing with other cultures, etc.)
  • Brit Hume & Tiger Woods (proselytizing, the Gospel, tolerance & relativism, public Christianity, various responses to the situation, etc.)
  • Colt McCoy (public Christianity, response to suffering / loss, the Gospel, success, how we respond “in the moment,” etc.)
  • Lane Kiffin (what “loyalty” does and doesn’t mean, students’ angry response, other responses, career ambition, etc.)
  • Health Care (providing for the less fortunate, making choices politically, not being idiots about politics, Christians in politics, abortion, campaign promises, etc.)
  • Conan O’Brien & Jay Leno (conflict, public conflict, compromise, “kindness” vs. “business,” etc.)

What other topics are ripe for collegiate spiritual discussions?

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