Serving others seems to be, far and away, the most popular form of faith expression on the campus I serve.
Much more so than participating in a worship service or small group ministry — students seem to believe that the best way they can ‘show’ they are followers of Jesus, or express their faith, is to find a way to meaningfully serve someone who is in need.
But I’m concerned, because there doesn’t seem to be much behind this desire to serve other then the notion that this is what a ‘good Christian’ should do.
There seems to be a lack of time spent in worship.
There seems to be a lack of engagement with God’s Word through personal, and small group, bible study and discipleship.
I’ve been working with college students, on campus, ever since I graduated. Back in the mid-90s, when I was a college student, it seemed that small groups were the big thing. Yes, worship and service were important aspects of my college experience, but it was involvement in a small group that seemed to be what young Christians were seeking out most.
Back around the turn of the century, the trend seemed to shift from personal discipleship and small group involvement, to worship, as the popular expression of faith. It’s not that service and involvement in a small group were not options for students… but if students were only going to create space in their life for one opportunity, that opportunity was going to be a corporate worship experience.
Over the past few years it would seem that the pendulum of popular faith expression has swung away from worship towards service. And while I love the fact that students are learning to see and give ‘beyond themselves’ during the college years — some of the most self-centered years of life (by design) — I worry about how our students are actually being formed without the critical elements of worship and discipleship (in the more narrow sense).
It seems to me that our service of others should flow out of the abundance of what God is doing on the inside… but if we’re not actually pursuing God, in any real way, than what is actually happening? Are we becoming the women and men that God really desires us to be? What differentiates our service from that of non-believers? Does it matter?
I’ll share some more thoughts on this tomorrow, but I’d love to hear what this looks like on your campus!