Presbyterian Bloggers Unite // Campus Ministry

April 1, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Religion, Young Adult 

81This is the first in a new series of monthly blog posts from Presbyterian bloggers on various topics.   For more posts on this month’s topic, go to Presbyterian Bloggers Unite // Campus Ministry.

This month’s questions are:

  • how have you been personally impacted by CAMPUS MINISTRY?
  • what future commitment are you willing to make to support CAMPUS MINISTRY?
  • what are the greatest hopes and challenges that you think face CAMPUS MINISTRY in the future?

If taking any medicine or therapy, only choose a professional’s advice. viagra tablet When it comes to cialis order levitra women, it can promote reproductive health and now it is largely by thousand of thousands men across the world. Fildena should be discontinued if you notice any allergic viagra for sale reactions experienced by the patients. Side effects should be wholesale tadalafil considered serious and could prove to be fatal.
How have you been personally impacted by Campus Ministry?

Personally, I was negatively impacted by Campus Ministry when I was a college student.  It’s a long story with good information for those involved in campus ministry or who are responsible for supporting it.

In the fall of 1986 (yes, I’m old) I was a new freshman student at Rutgers University.  I was specifically enrolled in Rutgers College, the main liberal arts college.  At the time I was heavily involved in church, serving as the youth member of Synod Mission Council and the Synod Nominating Committee, having just finished a summer on staff at Camp Johnsonburg, and having just resigned as a Deacon in my home church (because it’s hard to serve from college far away).  I came to college knowing that I’d end up leaving it either on the track to ministry or on the track to a computer career.  To that end, I enrolled in Computer Science and Religion courses in my freshman year, and I’d decide later which was my major.  At Rutgers the “main” campus is actually 5 campuses on either side of the Raritan River in the New Brunswick area.  The Rutgers College classes were mainly on the Busch (sciences, in Piscataway) and College Ave. (original campus) in New Brunswick.  I live on Busch my freshman year.  My classes were about evenly split between those campuses freshman year.

The Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministries was located (if memory serves) on the College Ave. campus.  We had campus buses that went back and forth, with a trip between Busch and College Ave taking 15 minutes to 40 minutes depending on traffic and which bus you took.  I’m the lazy sort and instead looked for an option available on the Busch campus.

On freshman move-in weekend, campus organizations had set up booths outside of the Busch campus student center.  I found two Christian organizations there – Campus Crusade for Christ and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  IVCF was giving away ice cream (a brilliant move on a hot late August day).  I looked at both, and the folks at IVCF just seemed friendlier.  I should note that the Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministries folks had sent me a flyer in the mail either to my home over the summer or in my campus box (I don’t remember which).

I started attending the IVCF meetings on campus (Sunday evenings, I think – when my old youth group had met).  I soon discovered that these folks had a VERY different theology than I did.  I was taught that Paul’s “be not unequally yoked” meant that we should not be friends with Jewish people unless we were trying to convert them.

I attended their fall retreat in October.  This was a retreat out in the woods of Pennsylvania, a drive of at least 90 minutes from Piscataway at a Christian camp.  The experience was rather cult-like to me.  The first 24 hours involved the attempts by the leaders (and even the other participants) to criticize my strongly-held mainline more liberal beliefs.  It began with the other students in my cabin, and as time went on I found that successively higher leaders took an interest in my “case”.  Around Sunday morning of this retreat I figured out what was going on, and started saying the “right” things.  This led to Sunday morning worship, which I believe involved what was probably an altar call (though I didn’t realize it at the time).  All I knew was that I was profoundly uncomfortable, my beliefs were being questioned and derided, and I was a long way from “home” on campus with no way to get there on my own.  I said and did the “right” things to get home.

After returning to campus I never had anything to do with this IVCF chapter again.  I’ve since been told that other IVCF chapters are nothing like this and that the Busch chapter at Rutgers was known in the late 80’s as having issues with how it was run.

Ultimately, this experience was 1/2 of the reason that I ultimately left the church the following fall (a departure that lasted 18 years).  The other 1/2 involved some odd things experienced at Synod council and the main Synod meeting, which I have written about.  I chose Computer Science as my major, and started taking Eastern religion classes to fill out my minor.

So for me, campus ministry was a profoundly negative experience that ultimately hurt my faith and relationship with God.  It’s clear to me that this is because I was involved in the WRONG campus ministry.

What future commitment are you willing to make to support Campus Ministry?

One of the biggest problems in the PC(USA) church is the graying of the church.  This is happening for one simple reason – our young people are deserting the church in droves, and failing to return “on schedule” when they are married and have children of their own.  Some youth are lost after confirmation and I don’t think Campus Ministry can do much there other than try to get them to return.  Many others are lost when they go to college and the connection to their home church is broken.

I currently work with the Senior High youth at my church.  As I have the opportunity, I encourage our youth to find a Protestant campus ministry.  When the personal connection is strong enough, I’ll even seek out the campus minstry opportunities at their soon-to-be college and recommend that they get in touch with one.  I encourage them to find one that works for them, even if it isn’t the Protestant or Presbyterian ministry.  I also give them some idea of the theology to expect at each (determined by the organization’s national statements or what is found on the local website at their college).  I do warn them to be careful of those whose outward persona may not stand up to a deeper look (the friendly recruiter vs. the reality).

I believe that a strong campus ministry is a necessity if we want to reverse the loss of membership in our churches and denominations.  Unlike some, I do not believe that there is a fundamental incompatibility between the church and the culture at large.  Regretfully, the loudest Christian voices insist that there is an incompatibility.  We in the mainline churches need to out-shout those who are driving our young people away from the church with their highly judgmental and exclusionary theology.

In my position, there’s not much that I can do to directly impact campus ministry.  I plan to keep on keeping on – to let my students know that there is a place for Christ at college, but to be careful of wandering into the wrong place.  I also plan to continue to push for support of campus ministries where I have influence.

What are the greatest hopes and challenges that you think face Campus Ministry in the future?

Problem 1 – the negative stereotype of Christianity popularized by those who are anti-Christian and those Christians who follow a judgmental and exclusionary theology.  We lose more potential Christians to bad behavior by ourselves – both our more fundamental and outspoken brethren (like the Westboro Baptist folks) and by our own internal fighting (like the current fight in the PC(USA) over gay ordination – which most young people consider settled in their own minds and a silly fight).  Put make it plain – Christianity as a whole creates its own worst publicity.  Campus Ministry has to fight a battle for the hearts and minds of students that is more uphill than it needs to be.

Problem 2 – the changing nature of spirituality in young people.  I’ve been reading Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher.  He describes the changes from Youth Ministry 1.0 (your parents’ or grandparents’ youth rallies and crusades in the 50’s and 60’s) to Youth Ministry 2.0 (your experience of youth ministry programs – the herd method of youth ministry) to Youth Ministry 3.0 (today, where it’s all about relationships, communion, and authenticity).  Youth Ministry today will be more one-to-one or one-to-few, and less about the “big program”.  Campus Ministry needs to take that a step further because you can’t even assume that your students have the same starting point.  Some will come to Christ for the first time in college, others will drift in and out, and still others are so committed that they are essentially on the seminary track. Individualized ministry will be what’s required.

Problem 3 – money.  Put simply, churches and higher governing bodies are short on money.  As people are squeezed by the economy, churches, presbyteries and other higher bodies are going to be squeezed.  And let’s face it – campus ministry has never been a high funding priority for the church controlled by adults older than college age.  The biggest fear that I have is that we’ll give up and stop funding campus ministry completely.  Campus ministry needs MORE money and more help on campus, not less.  Along with this problem goes the age-old problem of results.  How do you quantify the change in a student’s spiritual life?  How can you, when the change may not become apparent for years?  How do you satisfy those who want to see results for their dollars?

Opportunities – Problem 2 is both a problem and an opportunity.  By keeping ahead of the shifting sands of ministry to these Young Adults, we can both stem the tide of losses and bring others to God.  That’s what we’re here for, right?

Meetings and trip

September 27, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion 

It’s been another busy week in Mark-land.

Sunday we had the real Sr. High youth group kickoff session.  We had fun, got introduced to each other, played around, and ate ice cream.  It’s a good group of youth including not one but TWO exchange students.

Monday evening we had the first meeting of the Welcome and Outreach Task Force that I am co-chairing.  As I’ve said before our charter is to study visitors, inactive members and the local community and then to make recommendations on what the church could do to create an atmosphere of hospitality and invitation.  It was a good meeting – mainly kept to start up tasks and ideas.  We have two challenges.  First is scheduling meetings – the folks on the team are really busy and it’s hard to find a 1.5 hour time slot that works for everybody.  Fortunately I discovered (after some hints from the pastor and another team member) Meet-O-Matic.  That should help.  The second challenge is that we have one team member who has no Internet access (or inclination to get access).  We’ve appointed a team member to be that member’s “Internet buddy”, and we’ve covenanted not to make any decisions via e-mail without getting her input.

The team is very diverse (as diverse as we could get given the congregation’s demographics).  We have people who have only been attending our church since last spring and people who have been members for over 25 years.  We have a pretty good age spread, and the gender balance is good.  The skills and interests of the group members are fairly well balanced, too.

One interesting concept that came from this meeting is the definition of our “mission field” – the land area that we are targeting.  The traditional idea was that we serve a 3 mile radius from the church building.  However, over 1/2 of the team lives outside of that radius.  This means (by extrapolation – and it does work out that way) that a significant percentage of the church membership drives past another Presbyterian church or three (not to mention other denominations) to get to our church.  We are thinking that we might have two tiers – the 3-mile “local” tier and a larger area.  We decided to add “active members outside the 3-mile radius” to the list of groups studied to see what draws them to drive a distance to be part of our community.  We’re also going to be mapping the households using software yet to be determined (Google Maps?).
But that’s not all…Lavender boasts a wealth of antioxidants, helping to protect the viagra overnight delivery imbiber against oxidative stress – which of course, can lead to a feeble erection. The only good thing is that every owner will note that this is very unusual behaviour and try to find help soon. 3. cheap viagra from uk Personal relations are soiled as well due to this problem, he is incapable of completing the intercourse in a position cialis 10 mg which delays your ejaculation.Some other techniques- though they do not serve as a long-term solution- include the “Squeeze” and “Start-Stop” techniques. Fortunately, most of the surgeries have cialis sale a high success rate.
So that was Monday evening.  Did I get a break Tuesday evening?  No.  Carolyn decided that this was the week to re-seal the driveway while it is still warm enough.  (It did need it)  So I got home Tuesday evening and it took the two of us just about 1 hour to put a coat on the driveway.  She was nice to me Wednesday evening and put the 2nd coat on herself (a thinner coat).  I just had to cook dinner.

Tonight is laundry, and then Friday evening I’m going with the Sr. Highs up to Camp Johnsonburg for a quick overnight retreat.  We’ll be home about 3pm on Saturday – just in time to see Rutgers play Maryland (my brother’s alma mater) in football.

Sunday I’ll have church in the morning.  I’m attending an adult forum on what makes Presbyterians different from other denominations.  I have homework to do – matching the names, dates, and a short summary of the Confessions.  Sunday evening the church is doing the first ever Jazz Vespers.  The youth are attending together, and I’m probably going to bring Carolyn along too.

Who was it that said “You can sleep when you’re dead.”?

Apology to LSU Fans

March 27, 2007 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Sports 

As long as I’m apologizing ….

Rutgers Big R

purchase cialis online These problems happen when the bladder is small and overly active (spastic). Belly fat, as mentioned above is the root cause cialis buy uk of several health disorders. Take viagra spain this polo medicine only during sexual motivation not on daily basis. These seeds kill cancer cells with very sildenafil purchase little disruption to the body’s other functions. I’d like to apologize in advance to my readers who are LSU fans (and I know you’re out there – I see in my statistics) for the trouncing that the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team will be giving your ladies this Sunday.

It’s nothing personal – they just have to win the game in order to reach their proper place as the National Champions.

Holiday Roundup

January 1, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Flying, Life, Religion 

Here’s a roundup of how the holiday went.

  • Flew with my flight instructor for the last time before my instrument rating checkride.  Checkride is scheduled for January 6, weather permitting.  If I didn’t mention it previously, I got a 95% on my written test.
  • Went to 4 hockey Trenton Titans hockey games.  Went with friends, family and co-workers the first two (they lost).  Went with just Carolyn for the last two (they won).
  • Went to 2 services at church on Christmas Eve.  First the morning 4th Sunday of Advent service.  Then the 11pm Candlelight service, which was lovely and included wonderful music.  Then on New Year’s Eve I went in the morning to the regular service (2 baptisms!) and then to the special intimate New Year’s Eve Communion service in the evening (which was also lovely).
  • Went to see Mom, Dad, sister, brother and sister-in-law at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Day.  We did the gift exchange thing (which is always hilarious for some reason) and had dinner.  Good time.  Everybody seemed to like my gifts and vice versa.
  • Discovered a flat tire the afternoon of 12/26.  30 minutes to replace with the spare – 1 hour to get it fixed and reinstalled at the local Goodyear.
  • On 12/26, Carolyn’s parents came for the Christmas thing and stayed overnight.
  • Watched the Rutgers football slaughter of Kansas State in the Texas Bowl.  Go RU!
  • Got the 15,000 mile service done on the Highlander Hybrid (three days after the tire repair).
  • Rested early and often.  I’ve been overscheduling myself lately between church, flying, hockey and the rest of my life.

Condition like dizziness, headache, and unusually low blood pressure are common, but they will occur more frequently when the medicine stops it from operating, the blood vessels can lead buy viagra in usa to various conditions including: High blood pressure Angina (chest pain) Heart failure Stroke Peripheral arterial disease Damage to kidneys, spleen and pancreas Erectile dysfunction What is the cause of this condition? Aging, family history, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, sedentary. So, this order levitra online works almost the similar process in comparison to the branded levitra. order levitra online is Sildenafil citrate. This therapy comes to play when a person consciously analyzes, cialis 40 mg interprets and manages his/her thoughts. If viagra cheap price you are not sure about the nitrates and taking a medicine containing nitrates consult with your doctor.
I had planned to blog on “Buyer’s Remorse” in terms of joining my church, but a few experiences yesterday told me that the issues I planned to blog about are turning around.  So I’ll hold those thoughts for now.

Happy New Year!

Theological Issues I’m Having Trouble With

September 28, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Religion 

I’m having trouble with a few theological issues.

First of all – my theological background.  I was once a fairly involved member of a Presbyterian PC(USA) congregation.  I was also a religion minor at Rutgers University, and I took several classes on Christianity and the Bible.  I have not gotten any farther than that as far as formal theological education.

Biblical Inerrancy

One thing that conservative Christians (often calling themselves evangelical) list as one of their core beliefs is the idea that the Bible contains no errors.  This is explained by stating that the authors of the various books of the Bible were inspired by God, and therefore there could be no errors.  This leads to the logical conclusion that we must follow every instruction in the Bible.

There are some problems with that.  In some places the Bible directly contradicts itself.  (For one glaring example, take a look at the different accounts of creation in the first two books of Genesis.  For an entire list, look HERE).  Other times, the Bible prohibits things that we clearly allow today (check your clothing – is it made of mixed fibers?).

It gets worse when people start interpreting the words.  I had a very conservative on-campus Christian group tell me once that 2 Corinthians 6:14 (“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do
righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can
light have with darkness?”) meant that I should not be friends with Jews unless I was actively trying to convert them.  Others believe that this passage says that Christians should not marry non-Christians, or even form business partnerships with non-Christians.

Almost all forms of Christianity today pick and choose different instructions that are supposedly from the Bible.  I have yet to find a church that preaches that eating shellfish is sinful.  However, some admit it and others do not.  The PC(USA) is officially a Confessional church – meaning that there are documents called Confessions that the PC(USA) has adopted as official interpretations of Scripture.  Most of these are historical and go back decades at a minimum, and centuries in many cases.  These contradict each other as well.  Presbyterians are exhorted to study the Bible and the confessions and so gain both the tools to make their own interpretations of scripture and the decisions that have been made through the consensus polity of the church.

The problem comes when Person A’s interpretation differs from Person B on an issue that either person considers Very Important.  This could be divorce.  Or homosexuality.  Or how often to celebrate Eucharist/Communion.  Or whether or not the altar is behind the choir or in front of the choir.

Once upon a time, these differences erupted into actual violent conflict – complete with armies (both of which were the Army of the Lord).  Today, it’s fought with words and fought with money.  It’s fought with words like apostasy and intolerance.

canadian levitra online According to a recent survey in US most of divorce cases are filed by females who are unsatisfied with their relation as their partners fail to give pleasure in bed. It means that the couple suffers from bad sex and the buy viagra in canada decline in sexual satisfaction often leads to extramarital flings. In some of the cases, arthritis patients are highly reduced after they got daily doses of Wisconsin ginseng for a couple of months. order cialis They improve the functioning of the male sex hormone, testosterone which helps the viagra online uk man perform better. For the record, I do not believe in Biblical Inerrancy.  I believe that the authors of the Bible were divinely inspired but that this does NOT mean that their product is perfect.  Further, we do not have an original of each book of the Bible.  We have translations of copies.  Each translator or scribe may have made subtle or not so subtle changes to the text.  Some were accidental and some were intentional.  I do believe that there is such as thing as The Word, but our version of the Bible isn’t it.  The Holy Spirit can act through each of us to aid us in our interpretation of the Bible, the closest thing to The Word that we have, and through that we can approach the original intent.

Diversity of Belief vs. Purity of Belief

With the late unpleasantness in many Protestant denominations many people are concluding that “I can’t stand being in a church that doesn’t believe X”.  Some are using a different form, saying “I can’t stand being in a church that doesn’t accept me as I am”.  I can understand the latter – it goes to personal identity and staying in a place where you are clearly unwanted (or part of you is unwanted) is a bad idea all the way around.  So I’ll concentrate on the former.

Personally, I believe that our beliefs should be challenged.  We must be exposed to different ideas in order to continue to grow spiritually.  Some of those ideas will be tested and rejected.  Some of those ideas will be interesting but “not for me”.  Others will be accepted and become part of our spiritual makeup.

A church where homogeneity is mandated, where the Bible is made into a rulebook rather than a message, in that church the challenge is not there.  Everyone who chooses to be part of that church may be comfortable, but nothing is changing.  Beliefs are the same, year in and year out.  There is no new light.

I would much rather be part of a church where people who hold opposing views are not just tolerated, but encouraged.  Where people can debate the various ideas that they have, and learn from each other.  Chemical reactions happen when atoms build and break bonds, moving from one form to another.  That is my picture of how faith is built – through constant interaction with new and different ideas.

There is a point where it can go too far.  There is a place for a core set of beliefs and behaviors that are tolerated.  But even then, there is room for those who disagree to be present and part of the community.

Put more simply – how can you learn and grow in faith if you aren’t exposed to other beliefs?  How can you spread your message if you don’t associate with those with whom you disagree?

I would much rather belong to a church that chooses to include a few people who don’t check off all of the church’s belief-system check boxes than one that chooses to exclude them.  If I (and others) don’t agree with their beliefs, my faith is strengthened by understanding and rejecting their ideas.

Or maybe I am the person without all of the checks on the list.  Who has 100% of the checks?

Church – a new chapter

September 6, 2006 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Church New Member Process, Religion 

This blog has been dead for some time.  Mainly, that was due to a lack of interest in blogging, and too much to do otherwise.  However, I have something new to talk about and I’ll do that here.

First, a little history.

When I was in high school, I was pretty religious.  I was a member of a Presbyterian PC(USA) church in Northern NJ.  When I was a high school junior, I was ordained as a deacon in that church.  That same year, I was a YAD (Youth Advisory Delegate) to the Synod of the Northeast meeting.  I then became the youth member of Synod Mission Council and the Synod Nominating Committee.  At the same time, I was involved in Camp Johnsonburg as a camper, CIT (Counselor in Training) and a full-time counselor.  I also went to the Youth Triennium during those years.

Right about the same time, I went to college at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ (the state U of NJ).  I started taking religion classes and computer science classes, intending one to be my major and the other to be my minor.  I was thinking that seminary could be in my future.

Then, a few things happened.  On campus, I got hooked up with an extremely conservative chapter (“you can’t be friends with Jews unless you’re trying to convert them”) of a conservative Christian campus organization.  That only lasted two months, ending after a cult-like weekend retreat.  After that, I experienced some disturbing events at Synod-level meetings involving racism and politicking in a church organization.  (NOTE:  I will not be going into those farther here.)

All of that led me to believe that church was a place where a small number of people in power used the structure to control the behavior of a large number of people.  This control was not particularly Godly, but rather of human origin with the accompanying pettiness.

I had already resigned my post as a deacon because of distance issues at college (it’s hard to serve at a worship service 50 miles away when you don’t have a car).  I resigned my Synod posts and essentially left the church.  I filled out my religion minor with eastern religion classes.

About a year later, I ran into an officer of Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (now part of More Light Presbyterians).  They were looking for someone to serve as their liaison to Presbynet (a part of Ecunet – a discussion network for church issues).  I agreed with their cause, and began helping them for about 5-6 years as a supportive straight person.  This ended when again I ran into human politics and found myself being called homophobic due to my support of one strategy over another.  I turned my responsibilities over to another and left that service.  Thus ended my church career.

Bile and pancreatic juice can become acidic if the body wastage will not remove properly then, it can really become the cause of creating unwanted health problems like rx viagra colon cancer, acidity, constipation, etc. The magical effects of sildenafil citrate take a wholesale cialis price few minutes. It’s actually the last but one cialis without prescription of the most important among them are listed below. * Frequent ejaculation of semen* Excessive smoking and drinking* Obesity* Physical and mental over-exertion* Continuous use of such airway pressures of these machines, thus helping the continuous breathing and maintaining the oxygen levels during sleep. People run around with the problem saying that they are also going into massage therapy sessions, especially when experiencing link levitra generika difficulties in physical functionalities. Fast forward about 10 years.  I reconnected with Camp Johnsonburg and began volunteering to help with Sunday check-in.  One Sunday, another volunteer and I were chatting and she asked, “What church do you belong to?”  I had no answer.  About a year previously my original church had sent me a letter telling me that I was being transferred to the inactive roll.

This started a spark in me.  I discussed the issue with other camp staff alumni and found that many were in the same place – unsure of whether or not they belong in a church.  The camp held a retreat last January called “Reconnecting with Faith – Finding Your Home” which covered issues of how to discern whether or not belonging to a church is right for you, and if so how to find the correct congregation.  We also talked about related issues like Home Churches and spirituality that is not rooted in a church setting.

Taking ideas from the retreat and a few of my own, I began a process of determining simulateously:  1.  Whether or not to join the PC(USA) again at this time, and 2.  If so, which one?

The first question (whether or not to join the PC(USA) now) was and continues to be the harder one.  The denomination is mirroring American society as a whole – it is dividing into increasingly separate camps based loosely along the conservative/liberal continuum.  Denominational politics were fairly hostile (though still in order) through the General Assembly meeting in Birmingham, and have only gotten more hostile since (and less in order).  All of this is a huge turn-off to a potential member – particularly to one who saw human politics overriding the message of Christ in the past.  So far, I have decided that in a particular congregation, these issues are at least buffered and NOT the primary focus.  So I’m willing to give it a try.

The second question was more fun to answer.  I went through a process of attending local churches, interviewing members and staff, and reading anything I could find about them on the Internet.  I ultimately found a church that reminds me very much of the church that I grew up in in many ways.  That could be scary, but I’ve also done as much research as I can and I believe that this church is different from the church that I grew up in where it is important to me.

So, after attending on some Sundays, last week I signed up for New Member classes for the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville NJ.  Those classes take place in late October and early November.

I plan to blog about the process of a former member again joining a Presbyterian church.  I’ll also throw in amusing stories.  I do not plan to be a blogger who hides his name or church in order to be able to talk about people anonymously.  Because of that, I will probably avoid mentioning controversial issues or controversial people, unless I’m willing to make my views known publicly.

Wish me luck.