Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Church's R and D

Collegiate Ministry often acts as the Research and Development Department of the Church. Before an issue blossoms into denominational awareness – and usually a concern because it is newness and change – it took root on campuses and college ministries addressed it. So there is a history of ways to address issues which denominations have available to them. Unfortunately, because collegiate ministry usually doesn’t get much attention, this history is ignored.

A recent Christian Century article discuss a recent trend of church membership. It seems that a growing number of folks don’t want to “join” a congregation, or to have “membership” in it.  Campus ministries have seen this for fifteen years. Students would come to events, participate, and even have leadership, but wouldn’t be “members” of the group. Sometimes you’d ask someone to step up to some leadership position and they would be reluctant to do that. Then they would reveal for the first time that they were Roman Catholic or Jewish or agnostic and assume that would somehow make them unfit. Or some student would say that they were a member of your fellowship group when they had only attended a time or two. Many campus ministries know their impact is wider and deeper than the numbers which denominations and governing boards seem to love.

How can we in collegiate ministry help the church see that our emphasis on hospitality, mirroring God's gracious hospitality, welcomes and allows seekers to find their home in Jesus?