Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Campus Ministry IS and IS Not Congregational

I’ve been thinking about how campus ministries are like congregations. They are communities of faith in a particular context. When students go to college, they are often physically and increasingly emotionally removed from their home congregation. Most students have no regular connection with a church near the campus. Many of our students consider the weekly religious life fellowship meeting / Chapel/ Bible study / worship time to be their “church” and so have no need to be connected to "another" congregation while they are in college. I tried (and know colleagues who have tried) to help the students see that they needed to be part of a multi-generational full spectrum worshiping community, but I don't believe I was ever successful.

What would it mean if the PCUSA considered campus ministries to be part of congregational ministries rather than something different?

At the same time, I recognize that there is much in campus ministry with which congregations (and denomination staff) have little history or skill. The number of agnostics, atheists, denominations and faiths represented in many of our campus ministry groups is not a normal experience of a local congregation. In this respect we are more like missionaries, in a foreign culture, having to learn the language and custom of the people, and having to translate the Gospel into their language. The academic environment, as well as the developmentally appropriate tasks of students, means that questioning and challenging faith traditions and traditionalisms in a safe environment is much more prevalent than in a local congregation. This is evangelism at its core.

What would it mean if the PCUSA considered campus ministries to be the vanguard of the denomination rather than an auxiliary component?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

PACHEM Blog Updates

As a result of the recent YAM Jam Conference, we have re-activated this blog, and hope it will be a way to think collectively about the many aspects of collegiate ministry.

Contributors are welcome!