Last night I was talking to a friend who is helping run a denominational campus ministry program at a large state University. She mentioned that one of the members of the board of the campus ministry wanted to expand the ministry to include the nearby community college. Why, I queried? Well, they want more people involved. Well – how many people go to the community college I asked – 40,000 she replied. Wow, I thought. How many people go to the university, I asked. 40,000 she replied. How many students are involved with your ministry, I asked. 7, she replied. So basically, they want you to go from serving 40,000 people to serving 80,000 people so 14 people will show up I said. She was not happy with my reply.
I wonder why, in a situation like this, there’s not more focus on getting to know the 39, 993 students at the first location. Is there a way to serve them? Is there something the University is unable to provide? Is there a way to collaborate with other groups? Is there a way to build networks and expand the possibilities.
My friend mentioned that it’s sometimes hard because the 7 people who show up have a very definite vibe that is not for everyone. Can you maybe combine with other groups, I ask? You mean like these people over here she replies. Yes, those people. Why can’t you join forces with those people? Hmmm…
And therein lies the rub – protestant Christianity has become these weird silos of belief that don’t really want to cooperate. We gather with others who are like us. That’s important, to maintain our identity. But to what end? Why are we so concerned. Surely if your identity is that compelling it will remain if you gather with others who are different. I’m sad that denominationalism has gotten us to this point and I’m even more sad that we are all so desperate to survive the downturn that we are missing out on a critical opportunity to engage diversity and to help one another more fully understand God and the Gospel. Because really, if the denominational campus ministries only goal is to get people to participate in the denomination, haven’t we missed the point?