FC Missional Moment: Voices from the Commons
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** Gospel Conversations
Every semester differs in terms of what kind of spiritual discussions happen in class.
Sometimes the gospel presentations came easily, like when Eric asked me outside of class how I knew what the purpose of my life was or when Dean invited me to a coffee shop and asked if I might please explain who Jesus was and the power this man supposedly had.
** My Mid-Semester Announcement
Unlike some Christian professors, I don’t usually identify myself right away as a Christian. I like to spend the first six weeks building rapport and waiting for the perfect opportunity.
Announcing my love of Jesus mid-semester shocks many of my students, who—because of their lifestyle—expect I would withhold my affection from them. By waiting until they know me better, I can often break a stereotype of the judgmental and hateful Christian many have sadly experienced before.
When I do alert students to how much my faith in Jesus matters to me, I often receive confusing stares.
You’re a Christian? But you’re so nice to us! How can you be a Christian?”
** Using a Name Game Opportunity
Sometimes I tell students I’m a Christian as part of a name game.
I ask students to share what other campus activities they’re involved in, and I share about Cru and my love of Jesus. Occasionally, students ask for more information right there in class, like Carlos who wanted to know why I chose Christianity as opposed to other religions.
Other times, I identify as a Christian only to receive awkward glances and silence.
Most students, however, appreciate knowing an instructor who takes her faith seriously. They will ask about where I go to church, what I read in the Bible, and what kinds of spiritual topics interest me.
** Every Semester is Different: Sometimes Good, Sometimes Sour
Every single semester, without fail, God brings a student into my life who wants to learn more about Jesus.
Sometimes, the effects are immediate and dramatic. I’ve seen atheist students become Christians who then begin serving the Lord on the mission field, for example.
But sometimes these attempts turn sour quickly, like yesterday when Cole emailed to tell me he believed in the beauty of a meaningless, purposeless, godless life and wanted to write an essay defending existentialism.
I emailed back the importance of engaging the opposing viewpoint—perhaps the theistic worldview of a God who designs a purpose for our lives—and he not only never responded, but he has also ceased to make eye contact with me in class.
Or what about Elias who showed me twenty pages of a memoir filled with drugs, sex, and cursing who continues to resist my commentary that this doesn’t count as a professional signature story?
It’s not always joy and fruitfulness in class.
As I look back on it all, I realize that professors have all kinds of influence, all the time. It’s a question of what kind of influence they’ll have.
–Heather Holleman, Penn State
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In such situations, my job was simple: listen. Listen for patterns. Listen for underlying causes. Listen for regrets. Listen as through a stethoscope to identify the particular malady to which the good news of Jesus would bring healing.–Chris Castaldo
99 Wondering Questions
Questions can help you wonder into someone’s heart through conversation. Doug Pollock, Cru staff member, offers the following advice for successfully sharing your faith: ask permission. When we wait to be invited into people’s sacred space, we show them great respect rather than barging in with our pre-determined agenda.
Rooted in a set of 99 wondering questions, Doug offers a practical strategy to notice, serve, listen and wonder our way into spiritual conversations. As Pollock says, “We are usually only one good question away from a spiritual conversation.”
Download this list of Doug’s 99 Wondering Questions here (https://gallery.mailchimp.com/38238054998a2e79e4668e3c7/files/wondering_questions.pdf) .
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