|Transforming Campus Ministries||
A little bit of fun today.
By day he's a successful corporate attorney. At home he's a devoted husband and father. He also serves faithfully as the secretary of Transforming Campus Ministries' board of directors. But once in a while Greg Suckow is Hawkeye Elvis. Here's a link to a podcast where an Iowa sportswriter interviews him. Enjoy!
A River of Booze is part of The Chronicle of Higher Education's series on drinking in college towns. It examines Athens, Georgia's "uneasy embrace of drinking," though it "could be almost anywhere."
Campus ministries can't stop the flow of alcohol, of course, but they can help colleges educate students (and others) about the effects of alcohol consumption, and they can host alcohol-free events. Some colleges may even provide funding to help you do so.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
"Last month, California State University, with its 23 campuses and nearly 450,000 students, withdrew official recognition from InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, a national group with branches on many Cal State campuses," according to an October 6 article in The Chronicle for Higher Education. (Note: Access to this article requires a subscription with a username and password.) "The group had refused to eliminate a policy that required its student leaders to pledge that they were devout Christians."
"Cal State officials concluded that that put InterVarsity in conflict with both state law and university rules that forbid discrimination based on, among other things, religious identity."
Other universities have arrived at different conclusions, the article said. For example, in 2009 the University of Florida "added an exemption for religious groups to its antidiscrimination policy." And Ohio’s General Assembly in 2011 guaranteed that religious groups at Ohio State University "could use religious criteria to select leaders and members."
How Cal State's decision may impact your campus ministry, now or in the future, is something your ministry's leaders need to be prepared to address. Every campus is unique - as is every campus ministry - so there is no "one size fits all" answer.
Keeping in mind that I'm a campus pastor and not an attorney, I'd be happy to chat with you about it's potential impact at your ministry. Feel free to email me at email@example.com to start the conversation.
"In 2013, Americans rated six professions more trustworthy than clergy: nurses, pharmacists, grade school teachers, medical doctors, military officers, and police officers," according to an article by Kate Tracy for Christianity Today, citing a Gallup poll.
Slightly less than half of Americans rate clergy highly on honesty and ethics, an all-time low. (The poll first asked about the clergy in 1977.) Worse, only one-third of millennials - 18 to 34 years old, which includes most college students - trust clergy members.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for campus pastors. We can't changed what previously happened that led to this decline in trust, but we can seek to change this perception - if only among those we are privileged to serve - by reflecting Jesus Christ with honest and ethical behavior.
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any
participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility
count others more significant than yourselves.4 Let each of you look not only to
his own interests, but also to the interests of others.5 Have this mind among
yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of
God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,7 but made himself
nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.8 And
being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point
of death, even death on a cross
"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."
"Millennials appear to be more interested in living lives defined by meaning than by what some would call happiness."
This statement, which is consistent with other reserarch I've read regarding persons born after 1980, comes from a Nov. 30 New York Times opinion entitled Millennial Searchers by Emily Esfahani Smith, an editor at The New Criterion and Defining Ideas, a Hoover Institution journal, and Jennifer L. Aaker, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
While Smith and Aaker acknowledge that "meaning" is subjective, a new study done by Aaker and others reveals that "having a sense of meaning is not the same as feeling happy."
"Those who reported having a meaningful life saw themselves as more other-oriented — by being, more specifically, a 'giver.' People who said that doing things for others was important to them reported having more meaning in their lives."
"This was in stark contrast to those who reported having a happy life. Happiness was associated with being more self-oriented — by being a 'taker.' People felt happy, in a superficial sense, when they got what they wanted, and not necessarily when they put others first."
Christian churches who seek to reach today's college students will be wise to emphasize what is meaningful, which necessarily includes the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but may start with what students already recognize as having meaning, such as service on behalf of others (which will open doors to share the Gospel).
I would welcome the opportunity to help your church serve college students. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
I was privileged to write an article for Lutheran Hour Ministries entitled Reaching 'Disengaged' Young Adults, found on pages 14-16, of the new issue of The Lutheran LAYMAN. You can find it here.
When I help church leaders start a new campus ministry or transform an existing one, I always urge them to meet the college's key leaders and ask how the ministry might help.
A professor at Concordia University, Portland, where I'm privileged to serve as campus pastor, went across the street to Faubion Elementary School in 2007 to ask its new principal, "What do you need?"
Go here to read about the "blessed union" that has developed during the past six years. Yes, it has taken a lot of work, but it began with one key person asking another key person a simple but very important question.
Email me at email@example.com to learn more about how your ministry can connect with a nearby college or university.
A student at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. was ordered to remove her cross necklace "because it might offend other students," according to an article by Todd Starnes of Fox News.
A university spokesperson has acknowledged that the supervisor who directed the student to remove the cross was "completely wrong," and that the university president "was 'angered' by the incident" and is trying to contact the student to apologize.
I'm grateful that the university's president seems to be responding appropriately, but I'm also aware that similar incidents take place far too often at far too many colleges and universities (and elsewhere in our society).
While the student in the article did file a "religious accommodation request," most incidents go unreported, often due to fear.
Campus ministries can help by working together to expose these incidents to leaders at the college/university they serve in order to resolve the conflict and prevent such incidents from happening again.