Personally, I’m a big fan of the campus-wide forum for outreach and impact on a campus. I think it’s something we could do a lot more of, and I’ve even got a suggestion for a perfect February forum if you’re interested (and can pull things together in time).
When I say “campus-wide forum,” I mean an event aimed at addressing a particular issue (or set of issues) from a biblical point of view. Clearly, Veritas Forum helps organize big events like this; if you’re unfamiliar with what they do, you’re unfamiliar with one of the major organizations in our field. (Next week’s Veritas Forum at Rice will look at artificial intelligence, humanity, and vocation… because, honestly, Rice is the sort of school where that’s workable.)
But besides these major, year-in-the-making forums, I think there’s lots of room for less intense campus forums, gatherings advertised widely and focused on providing students, faculty, or whomever with a biblical worldview on particular topics. There are all sorts of benefits that might arise:
- Evangelism and (especially, maybe) pre-evangelism
- Strengthening the faith of believers
- Bringing wisdom to bear on subjects where legalism, libertinism, gnosticism, or ignorance has held sway
- Spending a little more time on a single topic than may be afforded in other venues.
- Cooperating with other ministries
- Integrating with the campus as a whole (many campuses would be very “pro” this sort of thing if it’s done well)
- Following the event with further opportunities for discussion or growth
(Not every one of these might fit every forum, but you get the idea.)
Please consider: This sort of thing should be done skillfully or not at all. There’s a lot more at stake than perhaps in your average weekly Sing-and-Speak meeting. It’s also pretty easy to mess this up. That’s why it does indeed make a lot of sense to take the outside help of guys like Veritas, and it’s also why it makes sense to involve multiple college ministers from your campus in the planning.
As for February, I’ve realized that Valentine’s Day – or thereabouts – would be the perfect time for a forum surrounding sex, dating, or something along those lines. I don’t mean just “doing the relationship talk,” but offering something to the campus that intrigues, persuades, even jolts. You could look at Guy Chmieleski’s recent “Sex and the Soul” entries for ideas.
If you can’t get things together – or don’t have somebody really prepared and really winsome to use at such a forum, don’t rush into it. But maybe stick this in your back pocket, considering if your ministry – and maybe a few others – might be able to hold a forum at some timely juncture.
I think we might be amazed at who starts asking questions if we started offering the wisdom of God on the issues our campuses care about. And a forum is one way to do just that.