Q & R: the Ineffable but Knowable God - in higher ed?
Here's the Q:
I've been reading your books for years, and very few other authors have changed my approach to theology as much as you have. A New Kind of Christian actually helped me become a new kind of Christian, and A Generous Orthodoxy genuinely gave me a genuine orthodoxy. I'm now the ED of a small non-profit that organizes a college ministry ... It's my second college ministry gig, and I have been working to building a Christian community on one of the most atheistic campuses in America by engaging the doubting and questioning, and hopefully building up faiths that rest in the ineffable but knowable God rather than in religious security and confidence.
As I've tried to build the community here, I've looked for authors and resources that would approach college ministry with the sort of mindset I've gained from your work (and that of Bell, Rollins, etc.), but am finding that most of those who speak specifically to college age and emerging adults are seeking to preserve and protect rather than to be a prophetic voice which provokes and challenges. Despite many authors saying "emerging adult ministry is the new youth ministry," the literature is vacuous. What is written seems to be engaging contemporary issues (living in a post-Christian, digital, postmodern world) with an antiquated perspective. They're asking questions for the first time that the emergent folks have been asking for a decade and a half.
As you tour and speak I imagine you've had the opportunity to connect with people/groups/books/resources that address the question of how to live out this kind of theology in higher ed, and I'm hoping you might be willing to connect me with some of them. Specifically, I'm hoping to connect with those who have maybe tried creating networks of churches in a given city to respond to the unique faith development of young adults as a collective, or have in other ways sought to reach out to more than a single school.
Thanks for all you've done for me, I couldn't be more grateful. This last year, we've been trying to engage in meaningful interfaith dialogue by hosting meals and discussion groups for those of all faith backgrounds, so I'm anxiously awaiting Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road!
Here's the R:
Thanks for your note. What a great phrase - "the ineffable but knowable God."
I love your idea for city-wide connections for college ministries, and I'll bet some exist, but I'm sure more should exist. (Maybe folks with leads could respond on my Facebook page?) Your note gets me thinking ...
I'm thrilled that some good planners pulled together the Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity conference in May. (And indications are there will be more to follow....) Maybe we also need a "College Ministry in the Emerging Culture" conference too ... I've met such amazing college ministers over recent years, and I know if some folks wanted to pull something like this together that I'd want to be there. It seems that college ministry still has a lot of silos where good things are happening - but not enough cross-pollination occurs, and not enough connection with supportive churches. Great possibilities!