Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ignore college students at your own peril.

(UOC-USA) - Each September a Sunday is set aside for Orthodox Parishes across the country to focus on the lives of college students. As students settle on campus for another academic year, it is certain that they will encounter a world full of questions about the very meaning of life and how best to live it. They will be challenged by ideas both ancient and new. Campus life will confront them with issues from what it means to be human to how to understand sex and marriage. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s parish council members, Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders. More importantly, they are tomorrow’s parents and how they understand their faith and the Church will shape Orthodox Christianity in America for years to come.

Keeping college students connected to the Church has been the focus of campus ministry for decades. However, the question must be asked: What kind of Church are we keeping college students connected to? Is it a Church that frequently worships emphasizing ethos of various ethnic communities? Is it the social Church of meetings, committees, conventions and festivals? Or is it the Church founded by Jesus Christ and lived by the Apostles –a church that changes lives and since Apostolic times has “turned the world upside down” ?(Acts 17:5-7)

Church leaders have underestimated college students for well over thirty years often avoiding the great questions that society asks in an effort to make the Church more comfortable and less in conflict with the culture. An example of this is the issue of marriage. Over the past year there has been a vocal debate on the meaning of marriage on college campuses across the country. However, despite the rich moral tradition of the Church, campus ministries have remained silent and expressed discomfort in addressing such issues often avoiding the moral debates that are taking place. The end result confuses more than it helps students live their faith.

Questions and our ability to answer them matter. As Orthodox Christians, we do a great disservice to students when we avoid the questions society is asking. We do an even greater disservice when we do not share with them the answers to these questions that the Orthodox Church provides for fear of being shunned by popular culture. Young people do not want an Orthodox Church that is convenient or comfortable. They do not want a Church where moral questions are nuanced away as just “difficult issues”. This is not the courage of the Apostles and the Holy Men and Women of the Church who changed the world as we know it...
Complete article here.

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