As the school year fast approaches, I wanted to remind us of something I’ve mentioned a handful of times before: The value of training greatness in the basics of the Christian walk. This isn’t all we should teach, but I’d argue that it should comprise a large portion of how we disciple our students.

At church this weekend, our pastor hit the end of James 3 – with its list of “basic” characteristics that prove someone has true, godly wisdom. This morning, I’m doing a quick devotional out of II Peter 1, with its list of “basic” characteristics that prove someone understands the gospel and ensures they’ll be effective and fruitful.

In other words, being “great in the basics” is an enormous part of what it means to be spiritual. If spirituality is a goal for our students, then we have to teach greatness in the basics.

For college ministers, a few things work against raising up students who are truly great in the basics of the spiritual life.

  1. We’re in an environment that values “newness.” Whether working in the secular world of the campus or even among Christian students and our fellow ministers, the campus inspires us to be “fashion-forward” in our theology and our teaching.
  2. Our audience turns over, but we don’t (and our students need reminders, too). Even if we only shared the pillars of a Christian walk once to every student, we’d still repeat ourselves every two to three years! But add to that the need for our students to be reminded – and the fact that we’re constantly getting new students who probably need that teaching sooner rather than later… and we’re going to need to say the “same things” a lot. Our students don’t mind – but we might get to itching from our own redundancy, when everything in us wants to be “new.” We have to fight that urge, while of course also learning to say “old things” in new ways.