The Next Campus Crusade
It might be surprising and even shocking to some, but the new face of the fastest growing crusade on America’s college campuses looks like this. While Campus Crusade for Christ, now officially known as “Cru,” dwarfs this organization, the Secular Student Alliance is growing at a clip of 116% contrasted with Cru’s 16% rate of growth.
In an article entitled, “The Unstoppable Secular Students,” it is clear that they have grasped the most formidable strategy for changing the culture and values of a society: win the hearts and minds of college students. Two bolded sentences stand out in the article linked above:
- The worldview an individual holds as a young adult is likely the worldview they’ll hold the rest of their life.
- The secular values they hold in college will remain with them through the rest of their lives, providing tremendous influence throughout society.
To these two observations we lend our hearty Amen.
How Do We Respond?
Our response? There’s no need to slam the atheists. They pose no real threat to the mission of God in the World. They are making their wager and will find out sooner or later if they bet correctly. Regardless, we can expect to see them become more and more evangelical in the future. On the other hand, though their movement be small, it looms large when it comes to influencing your son or daughter or a young adult from your community. What points #1 and #2 above tell us is that people are the most deeply impacted when they are the most impressionable. And anyone who has been to college knows of the profound vulnerability one faces in this transitional season of life.
So what can we do? Campus ministries are standing in the gap, doing all they can to serve the present generation of students, but they can only do so much. We’ve asked ourselves how Seedbed might get involved. How might we catalyze grass roots action at the local church level? We’ve landed on a simple but proven approach: mentoring. Permit me a story.
A Mentoring Story
Early on in my college days I remember getting a call from Dr. C.R. Magness, a local physician in the town where I went to college. I didn’t know him but he had learned about me from a connection he had to my family. He asked if he could take me to lunch and I obliged. There was nothing profound, magical or even memorable about our conversation, and yet I will never forget it. That rather ordinary lunch meeting turned into a monthly occasion. He asked good questions, listened intently and quietly guided me to see my life, its future possibilities and the present opportunity afforded me to prepare myself. I began to trust him for needed advice. He invited me over for family meals. He never parented me though he often spoke challenging words into my life. He helped me process my pursuit of a wife and helped me discern my calling. Dr. Magness mentored me in the most critical season in my life. In the years following college, he would send a multiple page hand written letter every few months. I am forever indebted to he and his family. We remain bonded friends to this day.
A Sowing Strategy from Seedbed
As Seedbed’s Chief Sower, I ask myself, how might we encourage this kind of thing to happen more. Early in our work we met Dr. Guy Chmieleski, the University Minister at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He was beginning work on a project that captured our attention. From years of experience, Guy understands the contours of the college experience and he knows the hearts and minds of students. He also knows that campus ministry cannot meet the challenges and opportunities alone.
Guy has written Shaping Their Future: Mentoring Students through their Formative College Years, a resource designed to share collegiate ministry beyond the traditional approaches. While it’s not another local church college ministry programmatic approach, it does engage the local church. Guy wants to help raise up a thousand ordinary mentors for a thousand college students. The main barrier to this happening is most men and women feel ill-equipped to mentor. (The reality is they have never been mentored.) That’s what this project is about: equipping ordinary Christians to weave a mentoring relationship with a young adult into their every day lives.
If I were a campus pastor today here’s what I would do. I would read this book and then get a copy into the hands of a few pastors of churches in my town. Then I would work with that pastor to identify half a dozen mentors from each church, get the book into their hands, do some basic training and pair them up with willing students I was pastoring.
Ok—so enough of “If I were doing your job.” Go back and re-read the two bolded statements above. Thinking back on Dr. Magness, I’m not sure where I would be apart from his thoughtful and unlikely influence on my life. That’s what this idea is all about. More of that—a thousand men and women having a monthly coffee with a thousand college students. Could this be the new kind of campus crusade that could make the difference?
Step 1: Get the softcover version of the book and read it.
Step 2: Get it into the hands of an active or would be mentor.
Step 3: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be glad to give you an electronic copy to replace your softcover edition you gave away.
It’s another way for us to sow extravagantly together.