Dear college student,
I want you to know how much our church loves you and wants to support you in following Jesus. We are so glad you are at High Point Church. We want to make sure that you grow as a disciple, a disciple maker, and in learning to obey everything Jesus commanded.
Let me explain how I have tried to lead High Point Church to love you, because it might be somewhat counter-intuitive: We don’t offer ministries for your demographic. We don’t have a college student ministry — and we aren’t going to start one. Probably ever.
First, we support the parachurch university ministries. Some of our missions funds go to staff of Cru, Navigators and Intervarsity. We have no interest in supporting a ministry and then competing with it at the same time. If these campus ministries are worthy of support, then they don’t require our competition. So long as they have a strong doctrine of the local church, we will help them minister on campus.
The second reason is that in the local church, to be a grown-up means you don’t need a ministry just for you that keeps you from having to be with the other grown-ups. In Christian faith, being mature means you have become a person for all people, of every age. It means that you have entered into intergenerational adulthood, because you are no longer a child. In order to make space for you to engage in intergenerational adulthood, we give you as few alternatives as possible.
I tell the Grad and Career ministry all the time:
You will know you are a Christian adult when you come to church and you talk with a 24 year old, then a 5 year old, then a 36 year old, and 82 year old, and a 14 year old, and you don’t think anything strange has happened. When you see all adults as colleagues and resources, and children as all to be loved and shepherded, you might be a real adult.
That is, when you mostly stop caring about the age of the person you are relating to, you are becoming a real adult. Until then, you’re just looking for the next youth group. A little harsh? Maybe. But, our culture and technology has done everything it can to split us up into discrete viewing and marketing segments. It takes a good sized push sometimes to face the things of adulthood, like:
1. Becoming intergenerational in attitude
2. Seeking out an older mentor
3. Getting serious about finding a suitable spouse and getting married
4. Learning to like children and accepting that most people should have children if able — and probably more than two
5. Learning to affirm and inhabit long-term singleness not as a dating failure, but as a vocation used to serve God in ways not conducive to family life
6. Getting a job that is not sexy, glamorous or “world changing,” and finding satisfaction in doing good work that produces and provides
7. Forming a post-college life in an off-campus world that is not built for your play and desires, in which your opinions are not that important, and your bosses do not provide the insulation of tenure and government subsidies
Yet, the transition into adulthood is not something most early twenty-somethings have been prepared for in their homes, schools, church or college ministries.
That’s where Grad and Career comes in.
You’ll notice that we do have a Grad and Career ministry for grad students and graduates starting their careers and post-college lives. I really believe in this group.
Hypocrisy? I don’t think so. The first few years out of college are a tough road of transition. I get that. Of all the moments when you can use a church ministry, this is a key one. And it’s where most churches don’t have a ministry.
Grad and Career has one goal: Help younger adults transition into intergenerational, ordinary, robust adult life. This group is all about navigating that transition within community, which is why it focuses on the seven transitional issues listed above. It’s why it does things to serve other generations in the church and encourages its members to be in intergenerational small groups. It has periodic Sunday classes to focus on key issues, but not its own permanent class — so that you can go to intergenerational classes or serve in intergenerational ministries at other times.
So, it is in these ways we have tried to structure High Point Church to minister to college students in the most effective ways possible.
1. We support your college ministry and don’t try to replicate it
2. We create an intergenerational church in which you will develop a fully orbed adulthood
3. We treat you like adults — as part of the full collage of adulthood and not a discrete cohort
4. We help during the post-college transition that is so dangerous to your faith — the number one time you’re most likely to fall away from the Christian faith in your twenties.
I believe that if you embrace the biblical vision for adulthood, you’ll find High Point Church a helpful place to transition into the intergenerational church — built not for your shallower preferences but with your deeper godliness in mind.