Is being “spiritual” sufficient?

Is being “spiritual” sufficient?

This July a wonderful letter arrived at All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center. It was from a recently graduated student, Steve. The letter is a blessing because it lets All Saints campus ministry know that our outreach helped him grow even stronger in his faith. Steve wrote:

Augusta, I sent some items that show a little about Grace Lutheran Church. I am now an official member there and one of the elders! Hope all is well and God bless. Love, Steve

Steve had mentioned during a recent phone call that being an active part of campus ministry at All Saints has helped him to be ready to work in his new church. He had learned to be comfortable communicating with college-age youth because that is what he saw All Saints doing. During our last Bible class in December 2017, we talked about our time together. He said that the first time he had gone to the mall with international students he felt awkward and overwhelmed. That changed. He became much more comfortable.

Steve felt a desire to be part of his new church’s work because that is what he did here. While Steve was a student at All Saints he installed a movie projector in the undercroft. He arranged for hot chocolate to be served on Slippery Rock University’s campus to promote a speaker we were bringing in. And he spent time sharing ideas with campus pastor, Rev. Larry K Loree, Jr. Without even realizing what was happening, the campus ministry helped Steve to want to become an active member of his new church. He so impressed his new church that he was asked to be an elder.

Steve’s growth in faith is not to be taken for granted. A little over a year since graduation this Lutheran graduate has become not only a full-time park ranger in Georgia but also has joined a Lutheran church. Steve’s story does not always happen, but it is well worth all the work in the world for campus ministry to strive for. To give credit where it is due, Steve’s parents are wonderful models of Christian faith. They are loving and active members of their church.

The Steve story helps us answer the question that never leaves us. The biggest challenge for campus ministry is to convince students that “being spiritual” is not enough. Students do come to talk. They are from Iran, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and the USA. They believe in being kind, tolerant of all other beliefs, and they believe they can be good without God. They certainly cannot see why gathering together in worship is such a blessing. They, as one international student just did, hang large tapestries of Buddha and other gods in their rooms because they feel it is very comfortable to accept all religions, not just Christianity.

Steve, on the other hand, is also kind, inclusive, eager to help those in need, but he is religious. He did come to worship. He did receive the sacraments. He did study the Bible weekly, using The People’s Bible Commentary to help learn more.

Campus ministry will continue to share the Gospel with students like Steve who believe it is important to be religious and we will continue to talk to those who are “spiritual” and therefore “not needing” Christianity, they think. The Holy Spirit can change hearts. That’s His work to do. All we can or need to do is pray without giving up and show love to students no matter what their beliefs. God is the one who will grow the seed, as he did in Steve.

Augusta R. Mennell

Campus Ministry Director

All Saints Lutheran Church and Student Center

Slippery Rock 16057