When I spoke to some college ministers in Missouri a couple of weeks ago about “The Good, The Bad, and The Crazy” in college ministry, one of the Goods was “Aiming for Greatness in the Basics.” (I used the Miners of UTEP as the illustration for that one, since miners’ success is found in doing certain things really well as they chip-chip-chip into the earth.)
I noted that we need many more college ministries devoted to helping students become phenomenal simply at Jesus-following! Perhaps in those four years we have some time for additional divine rabbit trails… but not much time. Are we gonna produce students who are great in the basics?
One of the passages that most helps me think this through is below. As we approach the new school year, the question it asks us is, Are we raising up students who are clearly becoming awesome at these particular things?
It’s easy to attack lots of popular teaching topics or to aim for complex, “deep” things. But Peter writes seven things that actually guarantee fruitfulness and effectiveness for our students’ lives. By producing greatness-in-the-basics, we’re helping our students grow stronger in the less “basic” areas, too. [And as I reflect again on this today, it’s cool to realize that Pete was an old minister. He had likely seen distraction and digression arising from not being focused on these basic things.]
He also says if our students don’t have these – in increasing supply – they’ve… um, forgotten their salvation. Bummer.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with
virtue, [the idea is excellence, or even in today’s parlance, awesomeness]
and virtue with
and knowledge with
and self-control with
and steadfastness with
godliness, [the word means piety, whether we like it or not]
and godliness with
and brotherly affection with
For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.”
(II Peter 1:5-9 ESV; formatting and emphasis added)
There you go, seven keys for revolutionary campus ministry! We college ministers are a restless bunch; let’s never be bored by making the continual call to greatness in the basics…