Building Community

     In the exciting weeks after the Jubilee conference, the distinctives of the CCO often come to the fore in fantastic ways. Students ask questions about integrating faith and learning; a renewed commitment to thinking Christianly shows up in creative questions and good discussions; issues such as racial justice, urban missions and holistic evangelism are explored with a concrete urgency. Our fellowships exude a sense of being the church triumphant and we dream Kingdom dreams.

     Also, we spend time picking up the pieces of those students whose Jubilee expectations weren't quite met. Inevitably, some controversy emerges as we hone our groups' sensibilities and hammer out our views on issues of gender, the end times, contemporary Christian music, intellectualism and the like. The post-Jubilee season can be draining as we move towards a fast-approaching spring graduation.

     I would remind staff to make those books and tapes available on various academic disciplines. Spend time reflecting on why so few students do Jubilee papers (and honestly ask if you encouraged participation). Are we doing vocational guidance and networking young disciples with work-world mentors? Are you plugging into the on-line discussion groups about Christian perspectives in various fields? Are students even familiar with concepts like double-study and are papers being done to the glory of God? Check in with the many students who bought books at the Jubilee book table and see how they are doing. What a great opportunity these next few weeks are...

     But more than than these typical post- Jubilee reminders, let me invite you to (re)consider the themes so thoughtfully explored in Steve Garber's profound Fabric of Faithfulness. What do we need to build in to our current ministries if they are to have lasting impact? What components of disciple-making make for effective, long-term discipleship?

     Our Jubilee conference explores well the first of Garber's three components: a commitment to a comprehensive (worldview-ish) view of truth. In a discussion regarding the blessings that come from conforming to biblical and creational normativity, I've heard it said, though, that the truth is true not because it works, but it's true because it's true. Not a bad reminder. In a postmodern, relativistic age, a commitment to truth (albeit not understood in reductionistic, rationalistic, Enlightenment categories) changes lives. The Word of God, as we embody its holistic, searing truth, conforms us to Christ and makes us fit for the Kingdom.

     The other two features of effective mission among and with collegiates, according to Fabric, are both relational in nature: mentor-ing and friendship. Perhaps here is a simple but under-appreciated post-Jubilee strategy: take care of one another. Create space for friendships to blossom. Be the Body of Christ.

     I could wax eloquent about the times and places and ways to care for one another. I could, like Gene Getz's superb little study, Building Up One Another, explore each of the many one-another verses in the New Testament.

     I could rail about the unfortunate effects of our culture's idolatrous individualism. I could sermonize on the need for quality long-haul relationships to see us through the difficulties and dry times that come, especially for those leaving the fellowships groups and entering the workaday world. And any of those messages might motivate.

     Rather, let me be true to my educational and business calling, however, and just offer a few useful resources for developing seriously relational models for caring fellowships. Garber, while a tough read for some of us, is still high on the list, I trust that your copy is dog-eared by now! Few writers have so clearly researched and so seriously reflected on our situation as campus ministers as has Steve.

Friendships That Run Deep: 7 Ways to Build Lasting Relationships by Keith Anderson (IVP), $8.99. While this doesn't sound like earth-shaking, history-making big-time reformational idealism, it wonderfully embodies what Martin Marty refers to as intermediate level expectations. This is one of the very best books of its kind, calling forth the achievable Kingdom hope of, at least, having authentic friendships. Bren-nan Manning calls this a marvelous book and it is written by a campus pastor with a clear Jubilee vision himself. Highly recommended!

Church: Why Bother? My Personal Pilgrimage by Philip Yancey (Zondervan), $12.99. What an incredible gift Yancey is to the Body! He indeed is one of the finest Christian writers of this century (you heard it hear first!). His new, brief memoir of his own on-again, off-again relationship with the institutional church is as gut-wrenching and rewarding as his other fine books. Don't miss it! While you're at it, ask your church library to order a few (church libraries get 15% off!)

Life Together by Deitrich Bonhoeffer (HarperCollins), $10.00. Written by the famous Lutheran pastor who was matryed by Hitler, this is still one of the classic books on the topic. Read slowly and savor each insight.

Community 101 by Gilbert Bilezikian (Zondervan), $14.99. This sequel to Christianity 101 may be the best, basic doctrine of the church around. The subtitle says it all: Reclaiming the Local Church as Community of Oneness.

The Church Comes Home by Robert and Julia Banks (Hendrickson), $14.95. In our modern, dislocated society, many are searching for a church experience that offers greater sharing and nurture. This is a fantastic handbook to the historical, theological and practical dimensions of house churches. With-out deserting our traditional churches or denominations, this still could be used as a prophetic challenge to become intentional, whole-life, householded communities. (Interestingly, the Banks, who teach at Fuller, live in community with students.) Perhaps you could read it with a personal favorite, Community of the King by Howard Snyder, which I regularly recommend.

Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to Be the Church by Marva Dawn (Eerdmans), $16.00. A delightfully-written, mature and wise invitation to enjoy being the faithful people of God. Wonderful exposition of a most wonderful chapter of Scripture. Fantastic study questions, too. Read anything this woman writes.

One New People: Models for Developing a Multiethnic Church by Manuel Ortiz (IVP), $12.99. Granted, CCO campus ministry groups are not churches; still we can learn much from these proposals for congregational development. Perhaps forming a group using the provocative guide, Many Cultures One in Christ (faithQuest, $5.95) would be a good place to start. If we are serious about forming community, we will have to face these issues in the concrete specificity of our culturally diverse bodies.

One Anothering: Biblical Building Blocks for Small Groups by Richard Meyer (LuraMedia) $12.95. Just about the best book of its kind, this helps you study the way one another mandates work out in practical ways. A must-have for small group work!

Fun Friend-Making Activities for Adult Groups by Karen Dockrey (Group), $14.99. Just what it says. Fifty-four wacky experiences to get folks talking, sharing and becoming more accountable.

The Supper Club: Creative Ideas for Small Group Fellowship by Michael Kendrick (Baker), $7.99. Imaginative, thematic evenings of food, games and discussion. Remember Shelby Black's famous endorsement: "Cheesy, but without the cheese."