My last day in the PTS pulpit
Last night was the first night I said to myself “I knew I should of”…read that book or stayed awake in that systematic theology class at good ole’ Princeton Seminary. I knew I should have taken Hebrew for a letter grade instead of a pass/fail grade. I knew I should have read Barth’s church dogmatics several times a day along with my Greek New Testament by my side. Of course the “I knew should of’s” list goes on and on and on. At Princeton Seminary I studied my tail off and I have friends who are still trying to juggle friendships, family, school, and a relationship with Christ while busting their chops to just earn a passing grade. One of the mottos my fellow classmates often tossed around was “C=Mdiv.” (I still think I can market that as a bumper sticker at seminary book stores across the country) For those with kids, huge undergraduate and graduate debt, and a cup of coffee to stay awake with while cramming theological terms into a 48 hour period reciting “C=Mdiv” every 5 minutes was required and gave us hope as we counted the days until graduation.
Last night as I sat with a dozen bright young adults who either have graduated from college or who are still attending college or are working full-time, I for a moment said to myself “I knew I should of.” I knew I should of been more prepared and I knew I should of tried harder to memorize Calvin and Barths view of the Doctrine of God. As I sat wishing I should of, we struggled together with the first of several weeks of discussing key Christian doctrines (The Doctrine of God was the first one) what I found insteresting was that they were more excited about talking about their own views on who God was to them then my cool hand outs on the study catechism, a couple of creeds, and a list of Bible verses to back up basic Christian doctrines the church has argued over for hundreds of years. What I was really impressed with was all I had to do was ask the question, “how do you view God in the world today?” And the discussion took off! “I knew I should of” started 7 months ago with that same question I asked last night when I realized my handouts blew chunks and all they really wanted to do was just talk. Which makes me think back to when I was given the task of organizing a college/young adult ministry 7 months ago, “I knew I should of trusted in the Holy Spirit that these folks were ready for substance and that (lncluding myself) no one has taken the time to minister or care for the needs of a group of folks who could at a moments notice give up on the organized church (Which was asked last night, why do we need the building, if all we have to do is receive Christ as Savior)? Which is something I am very curious about as a young pastor on how young adults are perceiving the church today and why is it that they could care less if they belong to a church or not? As I write I would have to think my point is I know I am capable of teaching, I just better be ready for when that question arises like my sons often ask or imply, that’s great, but why? Maybe the real lesson is that I try to help these folks learn what it means to be a community of believers instead of trying to pump them up with four hundred year old creeds. What would the group look like if they were to live like a community who followed Christ and were led by the Holy Spirit? I can only hope they become a group that models the early church as the writer of Acts writes in 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”