Monday, December 31, 2007

Minneapolis - TCX

Cameron (our 12 year old son) took this picture of me at TCX - a student conference in Minneapolis. He was sitting front row with about 1400 college kids behind him. (If you think I look fat here, you should have seen me on the giant screen! I looked up and lost my train of thought while staring at the huge balding guy!)

The best part about being with these students is the white-hot worship. I feel this generation engages Jesus with a reckless abandonment that is refreshing and fun to be a part of. But it is also a generation of pain, suffering and disillusionment. In general, they are skeptical of religion, shun church as usual, and are moving rapidly away from the faith the way grandma did it. This is an incredible opportunity. From my vantage point, it seems like a major shift unlike anything we have seen in generations. There is a redefinition going on (for good and bad I might add) and it has the potential to reshape our nation and even the world.

I particularly talked to this gang about engaging the culture around them with the gospel. In a nutshell, taking faith on the offensive without being offensive. Taking Jesus to those who need him without carrying the baggage of religiosity and condemnation. I did this by looking at teachings of Christ and having the students interact with each other over situations and groups on their campuses (like - how do you be Jesus to the Gay/Lesbian/Bi-sexual club).

As spirituality and faith increases on campus, we (believers) have a tendency to form 'holy huddles' that cease to engage the culture around us and become a bit sanctimonious and isolated (and, as one non believer stated, 'just plain mean'). None of which reflects how Jesus operated (in fact, he was too busy ticking off the religious by serving and loving those who were deeply trapped by sin and poor choices).

The true beauty of university students is their naiveté and zeal. They really believe God will do what he has done before (and more), and it is not a stretch for them to act on those beliefs. So the day after I spoke, all 1400 hundred of these kids (yes, they are kids now!!) hit the streets of Minneapolis to give food and gifts to those in need and to share the good new with anyone who wanted to hear it. What a great group of young leaders to run with!!

One of the things I asked them was, in teams, to build a simple plan to 'be Jesus' to a group of other students on campus. In a week or so I will email the leaders on those campuses to see if there is any progress, or if students are attempting anything in their communities. I hope so. I pray that my speaking was not just another talking head with some decent jokes, but that some actions will take place that make big difference.

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