I have the happy chance to attend College Metro this week, so a few blogs will likely springboard from that annual gathering of mostly church-based college ministers. (It happens to be in Ft. Worth this year, so that’s handy for me.)
Former college minister Eric Bryant shared the large group message at College Metro last night, and he asked us the hard question: Do we (like Jonah) hate our mission fields?
Jonah clearly didn’t respond to the Ninevites like he should have – either before or after the incident with the fish. (A book that dramatically impacted my own college ministry outlook, Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson, uses that story as a template, too.) He was “greatly dismayed” when God dared to relent.
Bryant acknowledged that we college ministers do love the people we’re called to serve – including those very different from us and those who seem “furthest” from God. But, he asked, do our campuses know that we love them? Have we given them any reason to believe that we love them? That we want to know them?
In many cases, the problem is not that students don’t know what Christian Religious Institutions have to offer. It’s that they do often know… and they just don’t want that. Are we going to show them that we offer something different from the meaner forms of Christianity they’ve seen in the past?
One more note: Bryant is also a former church planter. Just as I really believe missionaries and missiologists offer much wisdom for our field of campus ministry, I also believe church planting is one of those areas we can learn from. (And of course one of our branches, Collegiate Churches, is directly tied.) It was in an “Intro to Church Planting” course in seminary that God first highlighted for me the missiological nature of our work.