the college ministry epic, pt 2

I’m trying to get you caught up on the story of MERGE, our college-age ministry at GCC.  The most consistent advice I heard before I started blogging was SHORT POSTS!!!  I know it might seem like I’m really dragging this thing out, but I promise I’ll give you plenty this week… just in short installments.  Here’s the next chapter. 

For the first two months of MERGE in 2006, we were inconsistent with our goals.

We wanted MERGE to connect 18-25 year olds with each other, but we had everyone sit in rows facing forward listening to a guy (me) talk.  And maybe that would have worked in spite of its inconsistency with our intent, but I wasn’t that good.  My jokes weren’t funny.  I said ‘um’ a lot.  (Some girl was so put off by it that she counted how many times I said ‘um’ and wrote a blog post about it.  Maybe that’s when my ambivalence toward blogging began.)  

They say when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  Well, most of the ministry I’ve led has been as a worship leader or teacher, so I hammered away at the task of connecting 18-25 year olds by teaching and asking the other worship guys to come do their thing. 

There was another problem with those first two months.  When we were researching, we observed a trend we didn’t like.  It seemed like a lot of CAMs had become separate churches meeting in the same building as the primary church.  When you provide a separate venue in which 18-25 year olds can worship, learn, serve, evangelize, and minister to their peers, you’ve created a separate church.  We didn’t want to create a program that was redundant with what else was happening at GCC, but that’s in some ways what we did. 

September and October of 2006 taught me one of my first lessons about how ministry can ‘thrive’ without honoring its values.  200 18-25 year olds were coming each night, but we weren’t consistent with our own intent. 

Next time, I’ll tell you about the first of many adjustments we’ve made along the way.