Tuesday, September 29, 2009

U ministry

Today I participated in the 3rd annual Church Fair at Seattle Pacific University. It's my duty, it's what I do, part of my job as the University & Coffee House Pastor. So, it makes since for me to go to SPU today and stand at a both and share about SFC and our wonderful coffee house.

Yet, I felt very out of place. I've stood at the booth before and today I even saw familiar faces and was even recognized by some, yet something stirred inside me. I didn't feel as though I belonged.

I've spent much of the afternoon thinking about this trip to SPU today. As I've reflected on it, I can't help but be drawn back to my study and post from August about the Smyrna church in Revelation. In that post I spoke to the spirit of consumerism within the church of Smyrna.

As I stood in a row of tables promoting our church, much like going to Macy's and buying cologne, I felt awkward as the realization of marketing came to mind. I was marketing our kingdom guided church to 18/19 year olds. We all were standing there with brochures and fliers (many with candy and swag in hand) hoping to share the goods of our congregations. Hoping these students, based on this experience, would come and visit our churches.

The principle itself is great. I love the idea of sharing a little bit about our church. I love spending time with college students. I enjoy engaging in a conversation with students. But what was weird was the commercials, the propaganda, and the gimmicks used to lure students to one church over another. Our commercials weren't based on theological or doctrinal principles. It appeared the students were more concerned with how cool the booth looked or if the local church offers rides on Sunday mornings.

I honestly felt like I was participating in a one stop church shop. It was as though we were saying "Come, take a quick taste test for a community of faith." As I stood there at this one stop church shop I actually heard a student describe his coming weeks - as he goes around "church shopping" each week throughout the semester.

Don't get me wrong, I love University students. I love University ministry. I love the church. But I do not love the church fair. I don't like the shopping mentality - feeling awkward as I stand there with brochures watching students pass by my booth to go to the next church who has candy available. I don't believe students, young adults for that matter, are needing to be spoon feed. The very nature of college places them in a place of growing and stretching. They don't simply need a place to sit and be told, but a place to engage, be loved, and love.

Perhaps a simple lesson one could learn from the church fair is: use candy during the Eucharist. Perhaps more students would come to our service if we had twix... "gimmie a break, gimmie a break, break me off a piece of that Jes-us leg." Alright, not really. I don't think students are that immature, and as I stood there this afternoon I wanted some of the candy the other churches brought. But I do struggle with the very structure we have set before our students... our neighbors... our world... with our consumeristic mentality.

This experience reminds me of a past experience where a lady told me students don't need to be stretched. They don't need to be involved in ministry. What they need is a place to come and belong... they need to be babysat. Perhaps I should change my philosophy of ministry... then maybe I might be a general superintendent one day.

Hmm... no, I'll stay where I am, building relationships one neighbor at a time.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Yes, I am writing this on Friday night. And yes, like most people, it is the close of a long work week. However, I find myself on this Friday night, not just tired from the workweek... but the summer as a whole.

Back in June we had a small fire in our church building which caused major smoke damage throughout. As a result, we have been able to repaint and refloor most of the building. But, construction projects, even when you're not having to do ALL the work are VERY tiring.

To be honest, I'm kind of burnt out. I'm burnt out on pulling carpet, pulling tack strips, carying lumber, running to the Depot, and walking around to see the progress! Hopefully in the next two weeks we'll be done.

The light is on at the end of the tunnel. Carpet will be laid soon, and I CAN'T WAIT!