Church Nerd

Put a black robe on one of these guys and you got... me.

Put a black robe on one of these guys and you got... me.

It was a fairly typical conversation, really. Student says to me, “I told some of my friends I had been at church on Monday night. They said, ‘Oh really? I’m taking a break from that stuff for awhile.'”

Now, maybe to you, that’s a sentence you would expect your normal college student to say. After all, this is the South. It’s the flippin’ Bible belt. So we’re talking about students who probably grew up in church, doing the Sunday morning thing, going to youth group, that whole chestnut. And, for students, Sunday mornings aren’t the most convenient of times… especially considering they’re usually going to bed around the time the early service starts. So it’s natural to assume that collegiates, fresh out of the nest, would want to take a break from church.

Completely understandable.

Except, that’s not what I see and hear my student saying in that ‘fairly typical’ conversation. I actually take a couple of different approaches to sentences like that. I’ll get back to that in a sec…

Seminary does strange things to you. Seriously. At some point, it turns you into this complete church nerd whereupon all of your conversations reek of ecclesiology and theology and churchology. Think ‘Booger’ Dawson meets Saul of Tarsus. It’s actually quite ridiculous. We pastors and church workers make terrible dinner guests because football is no longer just football. Instead, the gridiron sets the stage for discussions on divine critique of culture and idolatry and golden calves (or sabans or tigers or yellow jackets as the case may be). As Rev. Patrick Laney/Peter Parker (and no, they are not one in the same) would say, “It is our blessing. It is our curse.”

So, the other night, I was talking with a buddy of mine… a pastor, to be sure… and we were talking (you guessed it) church stuff. More specifically, we were talking about campus ministry. And we were wondering aloud what the future of the Church looks like. Especially when these college students leave college.

Will they want church to be like it is in their campus ministry? Or will they want to go back to the traditional/contemporary church that raised ’em? Will they want something more intimate and discussion-based? Or will they want something megachurchy (if their campus ministry is of that persuasion)?

What will they be looking for? Because you can’t look at campus ministry as an isolated incident. In some way, for better or worse, it will shape these students, and, in all likelihood, it will affect what they’re looking for once they sport that cap and gown, get their paper, and leave the friendly confines of [insert college/university here].

At WF, Monday nights are our big night. We have Bible study, dinner, and, once a month, we have worship. And, what I hear week in and week out is my students calling Monday nights at WF “church.” Case in point, the ‘typical conversation’ at the beginning of this rant. So what does that mean? Will they look for something along the lines of WF when they graduate, or will they go back to their roots, or will they settle for something else?

The other thing that gets me is this whole “taking a break” thing. I know how it is. Heck, I lived it. I loved me some Bedside Baptist in college because Pastor Pillows almost always brought a good word. But what exactly are they taking a break from? Sunday mornings? Church altogether? Organized religion?

I can tell you one thing… they ain’t taking a break from talking church or Bible or philosophy or religion. Those kinds of convos happen all of the time in the life of a student. So why can’t those kinds of discussions happen in campus ministry? And, if they did, would students show up? Or is the stigma of being associated with the Church too much to overcome?

I don’t know… too many questions. I need to escape the nerd persecution. If only I could talk football with someone… oh wait, that won’t work.


~ by presbytide on September 24, 2009.

One Response to “Church Nerd”

  1. […] from Presbytide Blog (you should definitely read their post called "Church […]

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