Too cool for [Christian] school?

I must say, I feel strange on a Christian college campus.

For those of my friends and only walk in the door of a church for weddings and funerals, you’ll find this strange.  For those of you who know me only in the context of the Christian community, you’ll also find this strange.

Welcome to my paradoxical world…but being at Wheaton is certainly not my normal world.  More like bizzarro world.

I walk in to grab a cup of coffee and I hear Christian praise music in the background.  I see a woman who is reading from her Bible out loud with a sign that says, “40 Days of Declaring God’s Word over Wheaton.”

I think about how that would be received at the universities I’ve served over the years.  I laugh out loud.

She looks at me.  I stop laughing.  I try not to be too cool for Christian school.

Even more so, it’s weird as I walk into Caribou Coffee (who’s wireless is awful, by the way, but they do have free refills on their coffee…but it’s not as good as my beloved metropolis, intellegensia, or even starbucks) I find people talking with Bible’s open in front of them.  People are praying.

I feel…weird. I’m just not used to Christendom in the 21st Century.

Am I in bizzarro world?

I was at Wheaton for one of my intensive weeks of class this week – 48 hours of class time in 6 days.  Monday through Friday, I was in class from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  My brain was full at the end of each day.

Not only was it intensive in the concentration of work, it was intensive in the nature of the discussion.  My afternoon class got to the point where one person stormed out of class and we basically had to call a timeout.  Then we start praying for the professor, praying for the student who walked out.  People start crying and experiencing healing. The professor and the student reconcile and hug.

I walk out of class for the day and think, “that wasn’t quite a typical day of class.”  That would never happen in my undergrad.

Wheaton is a phenomenal institution.  The quality of the faculty that I have engaged are top flight folks.  It’s not just about information – you can tell that the faculty care about their students.  I already am setting lunch appointments with my professors to talk more about ministry and life.  They are real people who care about real things.

Two things that stuck out from my courses.  The first was on Preaching. Quote of the week:

“Next to love-making with one’s spouse, preaching is the most self-revealing activity you do.  It leaves you naked.”

I don’t know about making love to a spouse, but I will say that preaching is freakin’ scary.  If you really preach to connect with folks, you have to talk about yourself in a way that does reveal who you are.  Preachers are subjected to so much criticism.  People feel free to say what they want about you and judge you everytime you walk up to the pulpit.  But have you ever thought about what it’s like to step up to the pulpit – have you ever thought about what is going on in the lives of our audience everytime one of us pulls that lecturn light, or grabs the microphone?  It’s absolutely terrifying to consider how high the stakes really are.

Why do I do this again?  Can I go back to my normal life?

Second was a class in apologetics – or defending the Christian faith.  20 years ago, this was considered super important.  Like people wrote way too many books on this.  As we’ve moved into postmodernism (or post-postmodernism), logically or rationally defending the Christian faith simply isn’t as important as it once was.  Even if I provided an air-tight defense of the Christian faith, my friends would say, “So what?  Show me why this is worth living.”

We all concurred – the best apologetic is the body of Christ living out it’s calling.  And it’s much easier to intellectually prove the faith than it is to live it out in reality.  Some were greatly encouraged by this – that postmodernism only helps us in this regard.

Sadly, the experience I have with the body of Christ just as often looks like an ugly whore than a beautiful bride – and I realize how much more difficult it is.  When the body of Christ gets it right, it’s absolutely beautiful.  But when it doesn’t, it hurts people and pushes them far from God.  And it’s even worse when it doesn’t admit it.

I was asked to develop a personal approach to apologetics and to find my “communication style.”  I was told by preaching professor that my preaching style is conversational – I’m able to connect with people through the intensity of my eyes and my authenticity.  From my apologetics class, I want my approach to be humble.

I hope I can do both well.

1 Response to “Too cool for [Christian] school?”

  1. 1 drita December 9, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    yes, preaching is as revealing as sex. I agree 🙂

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December 2008

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