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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the world as our campus

I met this afternoon with a friend who is planting a church (with ECO, a new Presbyterian branch). In the course of conversation we talked about the old models of build-it-and-they-will-come church planting that no longer seem to work, and how the only "building" he was looking for was a place to rent a few hours a week for corporate worship. The rest of the time, he hoped to be out gathering where people live, work, exercise, and recreate. The pieces of that conversation caused this thought to come together in my mind...

Campus ministries have this thing figured out already. With the exception (perhaps) of the Baptist Student Association having a 'house' on campus, most of the groups I am familiar with (InterVarsity, Campus Crusade, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Campus Outreach, RUF, etc...) do NOT. They do rent or reserve a meeting space for an hour or two each week for some kind of large-group gathering (worship, preaching, teaching, etc...), but most of their interaction is on-campus, in the coffee shop, one-on-one, in small groups, or in service opportunities together. Whether there are staff or student leaders, the organization exists "out there" in and among the campus life and activities.

I think the organized/traditional church could learn something valuable from this model. Not that we need to sell all our buildings, but we are so building-focused that even when we do "outreach" it is so often INSIDE our buildings!

What if we (the church... who are the people, not the building) could see the community and world around us as our "campus" - the place where we live and move in faith. It is important to gather as the faith community, but there is too often a disconnect between those gatherings and the rest of life. With the world as our campus, we would have to re-orient our language, our vision, our focus, and our programming. We might just find the church unleashed in a significant way as we are called out into the world God loves.

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