Monday, January 31, 2011

The Higher Education Presbyterian Ethos

I recently visited a PC(USA)-related college who is thinking about its church-relatedness in terms of developing a statement about faith and learning on campus.There seemed to be some concern by faculty and staff that such a statement would be constrictive and make them into one of the Christian colleges who require ascription to some common statement of belief.

I don't think that campus is unusual. I don't think we have done a good job in articulating and publicizing what it means for a campus community to be influenced by the Presbyterian ethos. Many corporations, especially those in the service industry, have an orientation program where the company ethos is presented and discussed. The PC(USA) has ordination requirements which help provide an immersion into the Presbyterian ethos. (Can much of the denomination's debates over ordination standards, presbyteries and synods, connectionalism, etc., be an indication that we are not doing a good job in this area either?)

Colleges and Universities should have some part of their orientation for new faculty and staff and students about what it means - as well as what it does not mean - for their institution to be in relationship with the Presbyterian church. The Chaplain would be the natural person to present this. A one-page take home sheet might be helpful to reinforce the campus ethos.

Campus Ministries might also find such a handout useful for those students and parents who wonder how the Presbyterian campus ministry differs from other Christian groups on campus.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Spirituality of Emerging Adults

Christian Smith's Souls in Transition should be must reading for anyone engaged in college ministry.
In addition, a few recent articles have expanded and helped provide insights into our ministry with emerging adults. Here are a few to stimulate your thinking when you're snowed in!

The New York Times had an excellent article by Robin Marantz Henig in it's August 18,2010 Magazine, "What Is It About 20-Somethings? Why are So Many People in Their 20s Taking So Long to Grow Up?"

The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article on "Spirituality Finds a Home at College," using data from UCLA's Spirituality in Higher Education report.

Albert Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Seminary, reviewed Souls in Transition on his blog, and encouraged evangelicals to read the book.

The Changing Spirituality of Young Adults Project, has a wealth of articles on the spirituality of emerging adults. The project is funded by a Lily Grant.

Christianity Today had an interview with Christian Smith after Souls in Transition was published. It is a wonderfully succinct encapsulation of his research.

Alexander W. ("Sandy") Austin, the author of Spirituality in Higher Education report mentioned above, published a book in November with his wife entitled, Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Student's Inner Lives . I have it on order and will review it later this year.