Where We Worship

2 Oct

 

Our campus ministry is a lot of things. We gather every Wednesday for lunch with students, young adults, and guests for a free meal – so we are a fellowship group.  We gather on Tuesday nights with students to explore the intersection of their faith and world they are living in through the lens of scripture – so we are a study group.  We serve meals to people in need at a local church regularly – so we are a service organization.  We have 4 students living in our campus ministry house – so we are a residential community.

What we have not been, is a worshiping community.  We have intentionally not offered a worship service just for students, but instead have actively connected with congregations near campus and around town to be the center of our worship life together.  In some ways this has been a wonderful partnership with our partner churches.  Some of our students have connected with congregations.  They get involved in mission projects, or assist with youth ministry programs, and some eventually join the church.  For some of our students this works.

There is a large percentage of the students and (increasingly) the young adults we come into contact with, that are looking for an expression that resonates with them in a way that they current options in our town don’t offer.  Part of what they are looking for is a level of connection and relationship that is hard to break into in an established church.  They are looking for something that goes beyond just contemporary vs. traditional.  A place less focused on the new building campaign and more on building relationships.

I realize that congregations are complicated systems and can be slow to change.  So we are faced with a growing group of people for whom campus ministry is their church, and yet we don’t have a worship service.  So, our students are helping us to create a new worship service this semester.  I struggled with how our partner churches would view this “competition”, and some of them see it as exactly that.

So we are inviting those local congregations to come and worship with us.  To participate and collaborate with the students in a worship service that is a reflection of how they respond to God and live as disciples of Jesus Christ.  We hope that our congregational partners will catch a glimpse of the church our students seek.

Our denomination has a new initiative, 1001 Worshiping Communities.  The goal of which is to start 1001 new worshiping communities (http://www.onethousandone.org) in the next 10 years.  So what do you do when you have a bunch of young people gathering together to study, pray, eat, live, and serve together as followers of Jesus Christ?  We worship the God who has called us together.  So our ministry is stepping out in faith as a new worshiping community.  It is a way to deepen our faith and enliven the congregations we partner with in our community, with students in the lead.

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Peter Hazelrigg is Executive Director of Presbyterian Campus Ministries of Greensboro.  Before going into campus ministry, he was a wilderness instructor in Colorado and North Carolina.  You can find out more about his ministry at http://www.pcmgreensboro.org.

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One Response to “Where We Worship”

  1. Bruce Chapman October 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm #

    Nicely stated, Peter as echoes from these quarters resound in tones similar & familiar. We, too are pondering PCUSA 1001 worshipping communities implications for our context. Apart from our ministry’s longstanding (even founding) principle to support area congregations rather than invent our own, the “competition” ethos prevails. Still, we offer for a second semester now a Sunday vespers formatted along Evening Prayer lines (Book of Common Worship) but including Eucharist each week. Students here, too look beyond the “home church” model for an authentic alternative….part of their healthy, wandering inclinations. So: common threads weave away among us further & God is glorified in faithful practice.

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