In my last blog entry, I discussed the effect that Missional Community leading can have on Christian Students. They are encouraged heavily to spend time outside of the Church bubble, and like Jesus, spend time with people and in environments that many established religious communities look at unfavorably.
BEHIND THE CURVE
Many Christians who have spent years developed in isolated Christian community, end up outside of more common university functions. Frat parties, clubs downtown, pubs, secular music concerts…. though nothing keeps Christians from engaging these social places and activities, they are often forgone in an effort to maintain purity and avoid situations of temptation. It’s not hard to be pure when you avoid the “dirt” altogether after all.
Once these Christians are suddenly encouraged to leave that bubble, to consider going to parties held by secular student organizations, spend significant time in venues where alcohol is consumed, and make personal efforts to re-engage popular media programs and music so that they have something to talk with new friends about, a strange learning process begins.
I remember the first time I tried alcohol. I was 22. My family never drank, and in high school I avoided parties because I would get kicked off of my athletic team if our coach heard I was drinking. Once college came around, I became highly active as a leader in my church, and most of my social gatherings were oriented around our college ministry community. As a result, there was no drinking at our functions, even for those who were legal to drink, and we never spent time at night in our downtown bar district, where most 21+ students spend their weekends in Austin.
So I had to learn. I had to learn how to navigate bars, how to order drinks, how to occupy myself with conversations and laughter over drinks. I had to learn my limits and grow through mistakes…it wasn’t an easy process because the curve was steep and the witnessing opportunities were high. But that’s how growing into a 20-something went for me.
Suddenly, I was going to the venues that my friends were, having common experiences with them…. living life together. It was messy, but it was also necessary. I was still a believer, but a very different kind of Christian, one who was able to really live well outside of the church.
I don’t know that drinking alcohol is necessary to be missional in today’s world. What I do know is that students and young adults will have many similar experiences to my own, growth that stems from spending time outside of the church’s social confines. Will they be a new type of Christian? One thing is certain, they WILL be different… and often disapproved of and unaccepted.