I am having a lot of fun. That may not seem a surprise to some, but it is a nice relief from previous autumns. I have been hanging around a lot of college students in a predominantly freshman dorm at OSU. Inside said dorm are 355 human beings who are entering an entirely new phase of their lives. Why am I there? I am a campus minister. A spiritual mentor if you will. My job is to build relationships with students and encourage them in the development of their spiritual lives. And just so there is no confusion, I try and influence them toward Jesus.
So what does this have to do with books? Well, I recently read a book that really didn't tell me anything new. It simply reminded me of things I already knew. It is called, "They Like Jesus but Not the Church." It was written by a pastor down in Santa Cruz, California named Dan Kimball. The while premise of the book is that people nowadays have been rubbed the wrong way by the Church and "organized religion" but they still like Jesus and are very open to talking about him. He discovered this by spending a lot of time at a local coffee shop and befriending the people he met there. I won't go into it much more than that except to say that it was the kick in the pants I needed to go meet people who don't already consider themselves Christians.
And I am having a lot of fun.
First of all, there are some really great people in this dorm. I have truly enjoyed getting to know them and I am genuinely starting to care about them as people. we play board games and eat meals. We sing Karaoke, dance DDR, and watch Heroes. And it is a blast.
Each week I help lead a Bible Study in the dorm. It is a really low-key time where people from all different backgrounds can study a passage of scripture, try to figure out what it means, and then see how we should respond. I was surprised by who showed up at our first one. People who would not have been there unless I had taken the time to get to know them were there. And they always have some of the best things to say.
I am starting to love talking to people who don't follow Jesus about spiritual things. They really love to have a chance to be heard. I think that their impression of most Christians is that we are all quick to "share" our opinions and unwilling to hear what other people have to say. I want to listen first. How can I possibly know what is going on in someone's life if I am not willing to listen to them?
I want people to encounter Jesus because I want Jesus to change their life and then I want them to go change the world. Jesus was about changing the world, and he did it. He is still doing it. I want to study his life to find out how he did it. I want to invite people along on the journey. But people are not going to just jump in and sign up for a club of people they feel are judgmental, arrogant and just downright mean. I have to build trust with them. I have to show them by my interactions with them that they are loved. I must never judge them. I must accept them and challenge them to look at Jesus more closely. He is really cool when you pull him out from underneath the 2,000 years or crap we have thrown on him.
So tonight, I am going to go play Settlers of Catan (best game ever)with some people who I think would love Jesus.
And I am going to have a lot of fun.