Every Monday at 5pm, Christian student leaders at The University of Texas at Austin meet together for prayer. This meeting, known as “Fusion” at UT, or what Campus Renewal calls a Leader Connect Group, serves as a physical representation of Campus Renewal’s vision for unity between denominations, ethnicities, and organizations. As a part of this group, I have developed a gratitude for students’ willingness to be vulnerable and open with other leaders, especially with those whose doctrinal inclinations differ from their own.
As a “Fusion Rep”, I feel so blessed to be a part of a movement for community with Christians across campus. However, I wonder how we as campus leaders will continue the call to be unified after graduation. I’m afraid Christian unity will dwindle as students leave my university. Whether that be because suburbia spreads people out, a growing sense of individualism is developed, or maybe life just gets too busy, the transition between college and the “real world” might stop some of us from pursuing unity.
Why Unity is Important
I grew up just northeast of Dallas, Texas. Every time I drive home for a weekend or holiday, I pass countless churches. I recently noticed that all of these churches have one thing in common (besides Jesus): they are physically separated. No matter the denomination, it seems like American church culture has embraced an “every church for themselves” mentality, and we are all guilty of it. It’s so easy and comfortable to maintain an exclusive and cliquey faith, but these actions only limit what the Gospel can do.
The book of Acts (chapter 2) reveals that, due to the unifying nature of the early church’s fellowship, “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts depicts that ideal Christianity is “doing life” with people. Luke makes it clear that buildings (the Temple) are not the church, but the people are, and being with our brothers and sisters in Christ is something we were designed for.
Why Teaching Unity in College is Easy
In most places, even though many are aware of the above mentioned scripture references, unity is not easily embraced, especially among churches and denominations that have already been established for a long time. Church leaders may not want to push the envelope and step outside their comfort zones, especially if it means interacting with, doing mission with, or praying with those who have different doctrinal or theological views. Others though may begin to taking steps towards unity when they realize that they can’t do ministry to an entire area on their own. This idea of needing others is a concept that college students know all too well.
I honestly believe that college campuses are where tangible Christian unity can and should be taught, experienced, and encouraged. It’s where we learn the importance of being in community because we’re away from our families and don’t have families of our own yet. We need others, more than ever, for to help our spiritual growth and be our spiritual family. College provides the ideal environment for us to learn more about our need for people that point us to Christ. In the same way that we’re learning how we need others, we can easily see how different parts of the body (denominations or churches) need each other as well.
What You Can Do Now and Later
Organizations like Campus Renewal exist to be catalysts for united prayer movements across college campuses. That’s exactly what we need more of! Unity on campuses can be the starting point for revival in our churches and cities for the years to come. The question is, though: how can we transfer what we learn about unity from our campuses into the real world?
What we learn about community through our college experiences will transform the way that we approach unity after we graduate. We have to commit to striving towards unity between the churches we’re a part of after graduation, and also have to commit to “pass the torch” of unity to those younger than us.
It’s incredible that so many of us across the nation are promoting Christian unity on our campuses. However, don’t let the end of your college career stop you from continuing the call to bring unity to your future church home, work or neighborhood. Start your own Leader Connect Group now at your college. Then, after you graduate, start a Leader Connect Group of church leaders or members that you know from different churches in your area. You can also organize a Rez Week at your school this upcoming semester. Then, after you graduate, coordinate a united worship event for your city.
The more we learn about unity now, the more effective we will be when we enter the “real world” later. College is often where we first learn the importance of genuine, Christian community. Let’s view our college environments as starting points for world change–not just now, but in the years to come.