This week I had the pleasure of spending time at Reformed University Fellowship Summer Conference. RUF is one of my favorite things about college, so naturally, I was very excited to delve into some new theological concepts. I was raised in a Christian church, and so were others at the conference, but I was surprised at the number of students who raised their hands when one of the ministers asked how many students had not been brought up in the church.
There were quite a few, and I wondered what had motivated them to come to the conference. There were also students who had been brought up in various denominations, and I was curious as to why they chose a Presbyterian conference. I was very happy that they had decided to come, but I also wondered how it must feel, and I wondered how those in the same situation who did not attend the conference were feeling. I hope that no one ever feels as if they are not welcome or received in a Christian environment, because if that is the case, then we are not doing the work that we are called to do. '
The truth is that while campus ministers love kids who go and listen to sermons because they think they're supposed to, they do their job for the students who wander into large group because their friends are going and they have FOMO, or because they heard it was cool and they don't have anything to do, or because they don't understand what their faith means and they want to know more. Those are the students who ministers are working for. This week I also thought about how so many campus ministers were not raised by Christian parents or came to faith in college after an encounter with other Christians or ministers.
If you're ever wondering if campus ministries are open to people who aren't sure about Christianity, the answer is OF COURSE. Chances are, the leader and many other students have been in your same position. You are always welcome to come in, sit down, ask questions, and talk to people. In most large groups, seminars, and church sermons I've been to, the speaker has either welcomed visitors and invited them to return, or given their talk as if the listeners have no prior knowledge. You don't walk into a church gathering and automatically receive an epiphany about what faith is and what yours should be like, but it does help. Even if you are simply curious, being around other Christians in various denominations can give you an idea of the fellowship and enjoyment that is involved, not just the rules and the standards. I hope that if you've ever felt unwanted or closed off from a church or ministry that you see this as an invitation to reconsider. There are lots of different fish in the sea, and every group has different things and people to offer.