Monday, March 25, 2013

Campus Frivolity for Christ

My college campus has had a chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ Cru for about 4 years. It served as a launching-pad for me to investigate specific theological issues, when I was coming out of my period of questioning in 2010. Consequently, I have a generally fond view of the campus group and considered myself a member, though I slowly began to attend less as I learned how to acquire good spiritual 'food' on my own.

In the fall 2011, and spring and fall semester of 2012, I attended the first meetings of the semester in the hopes of getting to network with other Christians and to hear some good expository teaching.

To my dismay, I found the group's leaders had decided that we would play silly games instead. One year they separated into teams and had a race to see who could wrap a person up with toilet paper to make them look like a mummy the fastest. Another year they put stickers on your back with the names of fictional characters and you had to ask people questions to find out who you were, so you could find your partner (Belle and the Beast, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, Timon and Puumba). Another year they had a scavenger hunt where the goal was to take pictures of your team at various landmarks on campus.

One of these times, I asked one of the student leaders why they weren't having a normal meeting. (One with worship music in the beginning, a speaker presenting a message, and closing with a prayer and more worship music, that was the typical flow of a meeting. And copious amounts of time before and after the meeting for people to simply talk to each other.) The response was that the games were supposed to make things interesting and be "for fun, and to let people have a chance to get to know each other." 

Call me crazy, but I think the best way for people to get to know each other is by talking, not by being separated by an arbitrary game that hinders your ability to interact with others, and has questionable or nonexistent spiritual application.

What upset me was that I was coming because I wanted Cru, not a silly game. It definitely seemed to me that the leaders had decided to sell themselves out just to be exciting and interesting. The problem was that by doing this, they accomplished the opposite. When people come to a Christian event, they want to experience Christian things. When you give them kindergarten-level meet-and-greet entertainment, they get bored.

At least I did. Maybe I'm the only one. But the fall-off from 80-110 attendees the first week to 20-40 the third week would seem to suggest otherwise.

You have one shot to get people interested in your group, and what do you do? Do you behave in a manner completely different from the way you usually do? Some church and para-church organizations seem to think that. I don't follow that logic.

People go to Church to experience Church. They don't go to experience 6th-grade Phys Ed. When they go expecting to learn about Christ, and you give them nothing of spiritual value whatsoever, you do them a huge disservice.

I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with this quotation I found on Elizabeth Prata's blog, which is apparently original to another writer.

"These relentless overtures to make the church more hip or more culturally savvy are in themselves a danger to any church. They downgrade the gospel, make people seek excitements as vehicles for their silliness and pander after entertainment instead of seeking Christ as a Savior for their sins. These excitements are a judgement to any church. Believers come seeking for bread and to be fed and you offer them stones! Oh brood of vipers, and you call yourselves Christ-ian (Christ-like)!"
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It really grieves me to see such a focus on "entertainment" rather than Christian teaching. I really do prefer the latter. Don't make me jump through hula hoops or hold hands with people and run in a circle. That's not what I'm there for. Your insistence on giving that to me as the only option is insulting to my intelligence and my attention span. Let me decide if I want to stay or go. Don't try to trick people into thinking Church is fun by acting like dorks because you think that's the stuff they like. -- And when I phrase it that way, can you see how it's insulting to the people you're supposedly trying to draw in?

That's my criticism of the Cru faction on my campus, but it's equally applicable to any church which behaves the same way.

P.S. After going to the first meetings in 2012, I didn't attend again for the rest of the semester. I'm now no longer involved in Cru. So you can take a wild guess whether "fun and games" made me want to come back.

~ Rak Chazak

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