Yesterday, I had the neat chance to volunteer once again at the Mile 25 Aid Station of the White Rock Marathon, the yearly race drawing tens of thousands of runners. I’ve done this four out of the last five years (one of those years I was unavailable because of a little yearlong road trip…). And each time, it gives me a new chance to think about what true service really looks like.
Because our students are so primed for service, “social justice,” and similar themes, service efforts have become a big part of college ministry across the nation. But though that’s true, it’s one of the areas I feel like we need to become much stronger – not in doing service, but in shepherding service.
My fear is that we’re raising up Christian students who will be no more effective or intentional in service than their non-Christian counterparts. If the people in our college ministries aren’t true servants any more than the gals in that sorority or the members of the student government, then what’s so “Christian” about what we’re doing?
Can non-Christians serve? Absolutely. But we should be able to point to Christians as people who better understand the how and the why of service, who are more motivated to serve, and are willing to serve even those the world is unwilling to touch.
But if you’re honest, can you say that about your college students?
It’s our job as college ministers to get our students there – to produce true servants at the end of those four years, not simply get them to serve a little bit more.
Encouraging marathoners, half-marathoners, and other runners is less world-impactful than many forms of service, of course. But it’s a form I really enjoy, and I’ve also enjoyed learning from the experience for these four years. Over the next couple of days, I’m going to use that as a springboard to chat about how we “do the Service theme” in our college ministries. I’ve done this before, but I’ll be updating and refreshing the old stuff.
I hope it’s encouraging as we head into 2011 – that we may create servants, not simply opportunities for people to serve.