Campus Ministry Matters

Ten Things I hate about Church

The title of this blog post is thanks for the work of Mark Schaefer, UMC campus minister at American University who preached a 6 week sermon series by the same name in fall of 2010.  The ensuing response by many students new to our campus ministry was astounding and reminded me just how much of a nerve we had hit with the students.

Brian Simmons chapter from Wandering in the Wilderness: Changes and Challenges to Emerging Adults Christian Faith hits upon many of these topics which were discussed from within the sermon series: hypocrisy, out of touch, boring, homophobic, and perhaps most alarming “expendable.”  The students of today are most definitely challenging whether Christianity as a formalized religion, meaning a church with a worship and a formal congregation is required to be a Christian.  Christian Smith in Soul Searching and Souls in Transition also has found this to be accurate, even going to far to say that this group of students is encompassed by a “benign whateverism” about most everything, including church.

This question has given rise to the “spiritual but not religious” movement in the U.S.  But of course, spiritual does not mean Christian, it just tends to mean not associated with other (insert faith tradition) members on a formal basis.  So the question is, should we as campus ministers endorse this?

Well, in many ways I want to say no, but then I consider whether the church really is hypocritical, homophobic, generally unwelcoming, and needs a wake up call.  Then my answer turns to a proud yes, that these emerging adults should probably let the church fold and practice a more individual and in many ways a moderately healthy faith.

But then I am reminded that Jesus and God calls us into relationships and community with each other.  So, what do we not like about the church:  the doctrine, the formality of it all, the lack of community.  And when we as campus ministers realize what the church is missing, inserting these things into our ministry setting, we can go to new depths with students.  Instead of lack of hospitality, we can overwhelm with hospitality.

What things do you do in your ministry setting that attempts to reverse the negative aspects the church presents itself as having.  How do you as a campus minister revise church?

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