“Christian living does not mean to be good but to become good; Not to be well but to get well; not being but becoming; Not rest but training. We are not yet, but we shall be. It has not yet happened. but it is the way. Not everything shines and sparkles as yet, but everything is getting better.”                                                                         – Martin Luther

5 years ago, I was a much different person.  I read a chapter of my Bible everyday, led a Small Group Bible Study, trained mission groups, fasted weekly, and discipled numerous young men on a regular basis.  25 hours of ministry a week, and I felt that I had spiritual things pretty much figured out.

Finding Mission Outside of Programs

Jesus was still something of a mystery to me.  I understood his place in my faith and relationship to God, but he seemed more like a cog in the wheel…a necessary part of understanding myself as “Christian”.  He was someone I could speak to and hear from, but never someone I could understand.  Paul made more sense to me, but

he seemed more…accomplished.  I knew it was wrong to compare myself, but his experiences just put mine to shame.

It wasn’t the stories of shipwrecks and jailbreaks that made me jealous.  It was the life change, the individuals and households that would respond to his message.  Here I was, having led small groups and bible studies for years, and I had seen maybe one person decide to follow Jesus.  Moreover, all of my time was spent with Christians.  I was beginning to feel that the church world was my only world.  It bugged the hell out of me.

After 4 years of aiming to be the Captain America of Christianity, I stepped out of leadership at my church.  I traveled, and upon coming home decided to focus on living outside the social walls of church community, and outside the commitments of programmatic “ministry”.

Learning to Send Students

While I was initially bitter towards the lifestyle that I felt had isolated me, I now look at this decision to leave, and the lessons that followed, as the beginning of a deeper understanding of Jesus and evangelism.  I continued to attend churches, but only the ones that gave me the freedom to explore relationships far from them.

This was the process, of mission, of living, of true community that I hope other students get the opportunity to explore.  More than ever, college ministries are seeing the need to send students OUT, rather than keep them safely huddled WITHIN.

Let’s hope that the result is a church that, over time, tallies its success less by the number of people in its’ pews, and more by its impact on a lost and dying world around it, and lost world that does not have to look far in order to find a Christ follower within it.