Tuesday, September 14, 2010

There's more (so much more) to Christian witness in Gainseville than, you know, THAT...

Picture at left: Rev David Fuquay and four Wesley Foundation stalwarts. Below, three more student leaders.

Today was one more example of why my job rocks. Or, I should say, my JOBS rock.

My "job", or course, is "freelance writer". But my regular "jobs" are: weekly correspondent for the Tampa Tribune; monthly reporter for the Florida United Methodist News Service; monthly columnist for FOCUS magazine; twice-weekly columnist for All Pro Dad; featured commentator for the Presbyterian Outlook; and author for Upper Room Books.

Today was "If it's Tuesday it must be United Methodists" day! Consequently, I tooled up I 75 in my lovely Saturn Aura to meet with David Fuquay at the Gator Wesley Foundation Center adjacent to the campus of the University of Florida.

David is the resident reverend (R-R), and we enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation about all things faith. I also had the privilege of interviewing seven students who hang at the awesome shiny-new complex. The young people were bright, enthusiastic, and articulate; they'll be excellent sources for my article.

Most importantly, the students represent what I believe is a promising new wave of Jesus-followers. Right across the street at the Presbyterian/Disciples of Christ student building, my friend Traci Reynolds is also committed to "live faith out loud" ministry; she, too, is sharing Jesus with enthusiasm and love.

I've got to tell you, and the R-R agrees with me, there's new generation of faith-filled young people emerging, and they own the energy and the passion to help re-define what "The Church in the World" looks like... if only we'll let them. But if the church doesn't encourage their passion, then they'll simply take their action-charged relationship with God in another direction and the world will be blessed by their witness in spite of us.

That's why I'm excited about what the Methodist Church is willing to do in student ministry in Gainesville. They are investing in young people and they're doing it for the sake of the Kingdom - not just individual local congregations. These students will most certainly be blessings to local congregations somewhere down the road... but, right now, the effort is pure mission - money spent that may never make it back into the donors' home church.

There are more than enough students in Gainesville to keep the Presbyterians busy too. University campus life is an open mission field. So why on earth do so many people say, "Let's just them go. One day they'll start their family and they'll be back."

No, they won't... Not more than maybe one in ten. But more importantly, young people who have stepped away from faith are missing out on the cutting edge of abundant life right now! Jesus is the best party anyone will ever see, in college or beyond.

Praying for our twenty-somethings. Why don't you join me - DEREK

I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1)

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