Acts 2:42 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
This past Wednesday, Ashlee Alley of Southwestern College invited me to preach on devotion at their 11 a.m. Chapel. Of all our United Methodist colleges – Southwestern has one of the most vibrant campus ministry programs in the nation thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Steve Rankin (now chaplain of SMU in Dallas) and the eight years of leadership that Ashlee has offered. They are the gold standard.
I’ll post the sermon when I get the link, but what I want to talk about here is what we are devoted to as United Methodist campus pastors and campus ministers. We need to come to a healthy consensus on this issue if campus ministry is to revive in our denomination.
So what are we devoted to? Or let me ask it like this – what is our philosophy of ministry? What and how do we believe God is calling us to organize our ministries to reach this generation of college students for Christ?
Devotion – its not hard to see it at play in the culture around us:
- Late nights in the library
- last one off the field/first one in the weight room
- don’t even get me started with dating – if you were like me, devoted might not have be strong enough to explain how consumed we are about finding intimacy
- my 8 year old son playing Legos Star Wars
- some one else’s 18 year old son playing Madden 11 or Halo.
- hundreds of thousands of devoted fans are packing stadiums all across America with the start of college and professional football
We see devotion every day – it just not usually something we think of when it comes to our relationship with God. But here in Acts – Luke paints a vivid picture of what devotion to God looks like.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Without being prescriptive or confining, I see Luke offering us four pillars of a biblical community. Four devotional practices that shape our lives as individuals and as God’s people. Four devotional pratices from which our students can build a lifetime of faithfulness. In fact, its not hard to confuse the practices of the Early Church with the practices of an effective campus ministry. Here’s an introduction to what I see they were devoted to and how I think it informs our practices in campus ministry:
PILLAR ONE: Apostles’ teaching – Scripture
Question: what is the authority for my life? What is the story of my life?
Practice: Discipleship, Spiritual Formation, 1-on-1′s
PILLAR TWO: Fellowship (Koinonia)
Focus: how will I see and treat others?
Practice: Small Groups, Acts of Mercy, Hospitality, Service, Mission
PILLAR THREE: Breaking of Break – Worship/Sacraments
Focus: who will be God in my life?
Practice: Corporate Worship, Sacraments, Creative Arts
PILLAR FOUR: The Prayers
Focus: how will my life be ordered?
Practice: individual, corporate prayer, and intercessory prayer; fasting
With the Campus Ministry Boot Camp coming up in December, I find myself drawn to this dominant image of our nation’s colleges and universities with pillar-lined buildings. In fact, I had suggested the title to my sermon “Four Pillars of Biblical Community” to Ashlee before I realized that the Christy Administration Building on campus had four pillars.
So what should we be building our ministries on? What are we devoted to as United Methodist campus pastors? What is our philosophy of ministry that we will hand to those coming after us?