Sorry about the long, unannounced hiatus. I doubt that anyone would care to hear any excuses, so I’ll just get straight to the point and talk a bit about what I’ve been up to since I last posted.
I hate to restart on a negative note, but I’ve been having a hard time lately and I think it may be cathartic to write some of this stuff down. First of all, I’ve began to become more and more disconnected from the campus ministry I’ve been going to since I was a freshman. This started a few semesters ago, but it’s gotten to the point where I hardly go to any of the meetings any more. Part of the reason is the fact that when I was a freshman, most of the friends I made were older than me. Now, most of them have graduated and moved on. It’s not very fun to go to a meeting where you feel like no one there knows you or cares to get to know you.
Don’t get me wrong. My campus ministry does a number of things very well, which is why I became involved with it in the first place. The teaching is solid and gospel-centered. The folks there are extremely friendly and welcoming to new people. As an awkward freshman who had just graduated from a cliquish high school, to have people initiate with me, willingly speak to me, and include me in their social events was enormous.
Unfortunately, they love new people so much they tend to forget about you when you’re not new anymore. It’s as though their approach to friendships is purely pragmatic. “I’ll be friends with you because I want you to be part of my group, so once you’re part of my group, we don’t need to be friends anymore.” I don’t think anyone would actually say that, but it has been my experience that that’s how they tend to make friends. When you’re new, you’re exciting and you’ve got potential. When you’re old, well…
I was under the false impression that it was okay to be part of the campus ministry without being part of the affiliate church. Yes, I knew that the ministry was an outreach of a particular local church, and I knew that they liked people to come to their church. However, they continually stressed that there are plenty of other good local churches to be part of. What I didn’t realize is that implicit in the statement “There are other good churches,” is the statement, “There are also other good campus ministries. Go to one of those and stop eating our food.” When I realized that one needed to be a member of their church to serve on the ministry’s leadership team, I struggled a bit, but when the church I had been going to up to that point offended me, I decided to finally switch over to the campus ministry affiliate church. I liked it at first, although there were aspects of doctrine and practice that I disagreed with.
Over the summer after freshman year, I had some time to let the emotional buzz wear off, and suddenly I didn’t view my campus ministry and new church with quite so rose-colored glasses. Coming back sophomore year, I noticed a tremendous switch. I wasn’t a new person any more, but I’d not had time to become a member of the church and join the leadership team either. So now, I wasn’t serving or being served. I was just in campus ministry limbo. And as the year wore on, I sank deeper and deeper into that state. Now, it has culminated to the point that I’ve left the church in search of a new one, and all but left the campus ministry in search of… I’m not sure.
If I were to offer one piece of advice to the leaders of my ex-church and ex-campus ministry, this is what it would be. Change the campus ministry’s name. Right now, it’s extremely generic, like “Campus Christians,” although that’s not it. I won’t say what the real name is, but it’s just a standard Christian ministry name that could apply to any self-proclaimed Christian group. It’s the kind of name I’d expect for a group that was not affiliated with any particular church or denomination, but wanted to serve as a ministry for all Christians to praise God with regards to the gospel we all share.
To protect the church, I won’t mention its name either. But what I would say is it should change it’s ministry’s name from the equivalent of “Campus Christians,” to “[Name of Church] Campus Ministry,” or something along those lines. That way, new people won’t be tricked into thinking that they don’t insist on people joining their church. So in that vein, it would be best for them to make it as clear as possible that if you don’t want to join their church, you don’t want to join their ministry.
Sorry if this entry sounds like a long, angry rant. I’m not angry, just rather frustrated. To all my readers (both of you) I would ask that you pray for me, that I have wisdom to deal with this situation in the most Christ-like manner possible.